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PROVO — Watch any entertainment news show this last week of the year, and you're bound see Kim Kardahian's failed marriage to pro basketball player Kris Humphries listed as one of the top stories of 2011.
Upon first hearing about this story, I was tempted to join the throngs of public stone throwers.
"IS THERE NO SANCTITY IN MARRIAGE?"
"WHAT ABOUT COMMITMENT?"
"THIS MARRIAGE WAS A MONEY-DRIVEN SHAM."
Ever since the divorce papers were filed, there have been jokes with punchlines answering, "What lasts longer than Kim Kardashian's marriage?" (My favorite: leftover Halloween candy.)
It was a 72-day affair from vow to filing. I'm sure there were still presents left to be opened, thank-you notes left to write, ink to dry on the marriage certificate.
But at some point in getting caught up in the press releases and the births of new Kardashian-themed hashtags on Twitter, I was humbly reminded that I once had a short marriage myself — a roller-coaster relationship made official in June and ended in December, and which, like Kim's, had been preceded by a swift engagement of four weeks.
I will never forget going to my last semester in college just after I had ended my marriage. I ran into two high school friends at the same time.
"Hey! I just found out you got married! I didn't know! I can't believe you got married and didn't tell me," said one.
"You're married? I didn't know either!" said the other.
I took a deep breath and exhaled the pride I had left.
"I was married and now I am divorcing."
Sober news to follow up such happy campus-ringing congratulations. That little instance will go down as one of the most embarrassing few moments of my life. Though my friends were kind to me in their reactions, I walked away feeling socially and emotionally defeated.
For the months I was married I had juggled a job, college, wifery and full-time thank-you-note writing. I was narrowly fixated on making sure everyone who had given us a gift, a monetary donation, a bridal shower, a wink or a kiss got a proper thank-you note. I'd go to the park in the afternoons and sit on a bench, writing and writing notes of appreciation until my hands were cramped. If marriage wasn't what I had expected it to be, it might have been my duty-bound insistence to get all those thank-you notes written.
And like Kim's wedding (but not entirely like Kim's wedding), we had planned and executed a pretty pricey affair for ourselves. There was an engagement barbeque at my parents' cabin with flowers and outdoor dining, and an engagement cake and lots of family and friends. Our wedding announcements were engraved with old-time elegance. The night before our nuptials we held a dinner at Sundance Resort for our wedding party where we had gifts for all the attendees and a session of mountainside photography.
At some point in getting caught up in the press releases and the births of new Kardashian-themed hashtags on Twitter, I was humbly reminded that I once had a short marriage myself — a roller-coaster relationship made official in June and ended in December.
After the ceremony we hosted a luncheon at the country club and followed up with a beachy Carmel and Monterey honeymoon. Then, a few weeks later it was off to another wedding celebration in my groom's hometown across the country. We flew out some of my family to be there and spent a second honeymoon showing the family around places like Niagara Falls and hot Mormon tourists spots like Palmyra and the Hill Cumorah.
But after the glitter and the glamour of the wedding, there was ominous reality to meet, and the reality we faced was not pretty. While we were great at hosting parties, we really weren't so good for each other. And by the time my last thank-you note was written, stamped and sent in the mail, the marriage was over.
Then there came a landslide of awkward moments. Like hugging my oblivious neighbor, after I had quietly moved back into my parents' house, as she asked, "And how is the new bride doing these days?" Besides the humiliation and despair of a failed marriage, I felt an immense amount of guilt. She had given us such a generous donation of money and I had nothing to show for it. I knew the right thing to do was to give back all the presents and money, but because we were on such a tight student budget, we had spent most of it on living expenses.
I had that awful sensation of feeling as though I had let everyone down.
A few months after my divorce was finalized I graduated from college and started dating again. I picked myself up and brushed myself off. In the years that followed I realized I could be proud of myself for following intuition and facing the humility of getting divorced after a few months of marriage. It was the best decision for me. There were no children, few financial obligations and a very short shared spot of life to put behind me. (And, at least everyone knew I was grateful for what they had contributed to that short marriage because there was a black-ink, engraved, handwritten note to prove it.)
Of course, like Kim, I should've had the courage to bow out of the marriage before it happened. But that is another essay entirely.
It should be noted, as well, the next time I married (a year and a half later), I eloped to Las Vegas. I had also learned my lesson about stressful, pricey, showboat weddings.
So I say, good luck to you, Kim Kardashian. In your world of luxury, it's nice to know you can take advantage of one of the finest: the ability to try, try again.