16 Days Until
Well, the time is definitely ticking away now! Months have become weeks, and weeks are turning into days. It will soon be just a matter of hourse before I greet her at the Oklahoma City airport . It’s exciting, but it’s a little scary at the same time, more so for Marline than for me.
We have talked about our fears and worries, and potential problems, and it’s not a small list. Besides the normal potential problems of any couple (let’s be honest, all right?), there are extra ones for Marline and me.
Probably the main one is the Distance Factor . She’s moving halfway across the continent to live in a state she’s only been to five times (for a total of about four weeks, all told). The culture is different, the climate is varied and unpredictable, the people are strange and alien to her. Sure, the South isn’t like “Deliverance” any more than it’s like “The Dukes of Hazzard.” But it can be an odd place if you’ve lived your whole life in New York City (apart from a couple of years in Connecticut).
And Oklahoma is an anamoly unto itself. Unlike most of the “southern” states, it was never part of the Confederate States of America . It didn’t have the plantations and slaves, like you see in ” Gone With the Wind .” And, to be honest, it was never much like the musical ” Oklahoma! ” So, it’s a difficult state to understand or explain, compared to some of the others, which might be more easily explained to a stranger.
The eclectic mix of people here might be more familiar to Marline than in some other states, but it’s the way of life that will be so different.
Another potential problem is the Driving Factor . She’s already a little nervous about it, and she’ll surely get more stressed as time goes on. She must learn how to drive, in order to get a job in her field. A quick learner, I doubt she’ll have any problems, but it’s still something that most married couples don’t have to deal with.
Of course, for anyone who’s ever been to both places, you know there’s the Shopping Factor . Because she’s not moving to Oklahoma City; she’s coming to Seminole, where the list of chic stores starts and ends with the number zero. You can’t step out your front door here and visually see several places to shop. Here, shopping — even for simple things like groceries and clothes — requires driving time and expenses, and sometimes a daylong trip to “The City” (OKC).
And, let’s be honest with ourselves here. There’s the Race Factor . It’s something that a lot of “nice” people would be afraid to even mention, but let’s face it: I’m white, and Marline is black ( photo ). Even in modern times, with modern attitudes, there are people who can’t stomach such a thing as interracial marriage. I have met people who (I’m not making this up) will say, “Oh, I’m not racist or anything; I just don’t think a white person should marry a black person.”
Some of them can’t explain this belief of theirs, and others mistakenly back up their idea with mis-understood Bible verses (like Numbers 36:8, Genesis 28:6 and especially Deuteronomy 7:1-6). These people ignore the context of those verses, and indeed the entire rest of the Bible, which is filled with stories of holy and righteous people marrying outside their race, such and Noah and King David (criticized by God for adultery, not for marrying a black woman).
Aside from religious references, though, there are plenty of people who just don’t like the idea. Until 1967, there were actually laws in the United States forbidding such a practice! Thankfully, the last of these was struck down by Loving v. Virginia in 1967. Still, it’s scary that it took a Supreme Court decision to come to this conclusion, and the decision left quite a few Americans bitter about it. A bunch of them are still alive. They have special names for people like Marline, and even more derogatory words for people like me.
Fortunately, as mentioned above, Oklahoma wasn’t a part of “The South,” in traditional terms, and was always a place where interracial relationships were common, especially between the white settlers and Native Americans . So it might not be as bad here as in some places.
And even if people aren’t out-and-out against it, the idea can still be unusual for some people. For instance, Marline will be the first known black person to marry into either side of my family. (I emphasize “known,” because geneology hasn’t proven that it never happened before. We do know for certain that some of our ancestors were Native Americans.) The living members of my family have never known a time when a black person was a member of our family. It will be unusual and different for them, because it just wasn’t something they thought about before.
Having listed these problems, though, I’m still extremely confident and excited about the days ahead. Every married couple has situations to deal with, some more serious than others. Just because ours aren’t the garden variety type doesn’t mean they’re not insurmountable.
Marline already knows more about Oklahoma than many people who’ve lived here all their lives, because she’s the type of person who likes to research and learn things. She’s already had several driving lessons, and I predict she’ll be holding an valid Oklahoma driver’s license before she’s lived here a month. She’s also innovative, and will find places to shop that I never would have seen.
And, as for the Race Factor, it’s something that would have been with the both of us, no matter who we fell in love with, because of our tastes.
Unlike some people, I have never had the thought: “I wonder if this is who I’m supposed to marry.” Not with Marline. Since she first posed the possibility, back in August of 2005, I knew it was the right thing. There has been no deviation in my thoughts or belief since that day. When I gave her the engagement ring in December, it was a mere formality, because we both already knew that we would someday be married. Sometimes, Destiny just hands you something like this, and every fiber of my being knew that it was right, that it was time, and that Marline was the right person for me.
Looking ahead, I could say, “No, it won’t be easy.” But, it would be more correct to say, ” It will be easier WITH Marline than without her .”