I’ve spent the last thirty days speaking to all of you about Ann. I’m sure many of you have questions and have formulated opinions about who she is as well as who I am. This is a natural outcome, one of which I fully expected. But before I begin, I’d like to touch on a few things…
I believe we can all agree that the world we live in is far more cynical than we’d like to let on. Without getting into a philosophical debate over true love and marriage, I think it’s important to note that one doesn’t have to go far to see the distain and inequality that surrounds such an institution as well as the ideal. Whether I like it or not, marriage and its purest of intent is being eradicated, little by little, before our very eyes. If this sounds like poppycock to you, please feel free to look up the latest divorce statistics. I have little doubt the results you’ll find will be just enough to make your stomach do at least a half of a turn upside-down.
I’m not one to point fingers or pop a quarter in the slot to play the blame game. Marriage is tough and finding love is even tougher. That doesn’t mean that an ominous cloud is required with purchase, but it also doesn’t change the fact that “It takes two to tango!” I can say this because I know firsthand how difficult and how beautiful of a journey both can be. But for every wilt, a hundred blossoms bloom. As with anything in life, the good and the bad go “hand in hand.”
Eighteen years is a LONG time. A lot can happen in just a few days, let alone 6,574 of them. To believe that all that’s been expressed here is all that there is would be a mistake, which leads me to my next point… What’s the point of all this then? And why am I really doing any of this?
I’ll answer the first part of that in a few minutes, but while I have your attention, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of things. My intent will come into question in a couple of months, it’s inevitable and hopefully I’ll be able to keep my mouth shut until this day is launched.
Last month, during my solo show at Park View Gallery, I met one of Ohio’s most revered artists. She asked me who my acrylic work was created for and I explained the backstory behind the collection. Afterwards she asked me if I had ever considered creating works through the eyes of and in regards to someone I loved.
I told Ann about the conversation and she immediately thought of this project. This was actually one of those many moments where we were both on the same page, speaking to each other in silence, but as I’ve talked about before, Ann is extremely reserved, so she had to be the one to green light it.
Proclamations are a common occurrence in our home and have been since the day we met. She cracks up every time I sing an out of tune “ode to Ann.” Thankfully though, I haven’t broken any glass or been the root cause of any unrelenting howling in the neighborhood… at least that I know of. (Insert bursting of my bubble here)
As you can see, my intent is pure. Instead of singing to her in the grocery store parking lot or in the background while she’s on the phone with her mother, even surprising her with a poem or a simple “I Love You” on a napkin left in between the pages of the current book she’s reading, I hit the ground running, ready and willing to speak from the heart from the tallest mountain and for all to hear.
Will such purity be challenged? Absolutely! I wouldn’t expect anything less. In fact, I expect this whole project to be challenged. After spending all this time getting to this very moment, I’ve realized something.
In the beginning, I firmly believed that this project would touch more hearts than I could imagine. I mean, who doesn’t love a good love story?! But once I got through last week and after about a thousand conversations with Ann I came to the conclusion that in a couple of months when this project launches, I may do more harm in the public realm than good.
Everyone wants to win the lottery! Everyone likes to hear who won, but speak to those who have won and you’ll get a different, more darkened story pertaining to how their relationships with those around them have drastically changed. I have a feeling love works the same way. I suspect good old love stories do so well, because they are so far removed from the admirers’ lives that fantasy can easily coincide with a bearable and allowable amount of hope.
But put that same love story into someone real and stand them next to these same admirers and what you get is a display of what seems to be unobtainable prosperity to them, an insulting one at that… a cheapened reminder of just how empty their glass really is.
I’ve seen this played out in the past with old couples that have been married for an incredible forty plus years. Singles and even newly formed couples “ooh and awe” at their remarkable longevity and commitment, but walk away with somewhat of a sour taste in their mouth. I’ve overheard and even been a part of some lingering conversations where statements such as, “that’s so cute, but that will never happen for me, “or my favorite, “I’m not impressed, it won’t last anyway. I know someone who was married for (insert number here) years longer and they just got a divorce,” are made.
But, the best examples of this can be seen during any Valentine’s Day and the weeks leading up to it. Simply watch couples openly express their gratitude for one another around those who are single and presto! Am I playing with fire for having launching this project during the 14th?! No! I can’t help what day I met Ann on, that was life’s doing.
I could be absolutely, unequivocally wrong in my forecast and I hope that I am. Regardless if this project is accepted by the world or not, the only person I care about smiling after each day’s work is displayed is Ann. I can say that now with the utmost conviction. I may have gone into all this with some semblance of an artist’s reference, but in the end, I willfully and proudly choose wholesomeness.
In closing, I need to even the scales a little bit. I’m one that tries to help another when and where I can. In this case, I can’t help anyone to find love or expose any secrets that will ensure a marriage remains intact. What I can do though is provide a hint of insight on how I’ve come to be in this moment…
You will never find true love by looking for it! I know this because I spent a longtime doing just that. It wasn’t until three weeks before I met Ann that I had reached a point in my life where I was completely and utterly content on being alone for the rest of my life. In fact, I was so happy about facing a future with no one else but myself, that I lived each moment without regret, doing exactly what I wanted to do and LOVED to do.
Ann coming into the picture actually messed the whole thing up and she’ll even tell you that I wasn’t so keen about what life already had in store for the both of us. The beautiful part was that she was the same way! I messed up her plans just as much as she messed up mine. What a Heavenly mess!
As for marriage, you absolutely need love, but you had better be ready to put the work into it. Both parties must be willing to come to the table and walk “hand in hand” through it all. Hopefully what I have to say in a minute will be enough to pave the way for some of you as well. If not, I suggest watching a few episode of Dr. Phil. He’s not a bad guy and his show is one of Ann’s favorites. His marriage is cute to observe, for what little we’re shown, but I’d have to say there’s a whole lot credibility shining through. Mrs. McGraw’s eyes don’t lie and frankly, neither does the doctor’s.
Thank you all for allowing me the opportunity to share these moments of greatness with you. If you are reading these words, you have my undying gratitude. I’m sure, in a way, there’s an ounce of relief that the long-windedness is over, but unfortunately it’s not! I still have one more question to answer!
I’ve spent thirty days telling the world about you and how much I adore you, but not once in these pages have I actually spoken to you. So, if you don’t mind and if I may…
I had an epiphany last night. I doubt you’ll remember now, but we were watching those couples yesterday, renewing their vows on TLC and you said, “What’s the point? Why waste the money?!” We both giggled a bit and I completely agreed with you, but as we always do, we got all sentimental and whatnot watching them proclaiming their love. After the show, we started rehashing memories of our “formality” wedding for a minute and then I left to come down here to paint. I didn’t think much of anything until I heard you upstairs talking to our oldest about her driver’s permit a few hours later. Then all of the sudden, it was like I got hit by a ton of bricks…
When we were kids and started the journey of obtaining the coveted driver’s license, we had to study hard to get our learner’s permit. We hadn’t stepped into a driver’s seat yet, but in some ways we felt as though we know what to expect.
Before we had our oldest, we both received countless morsels of wisdom and heaps of advice about having children, but we both already “knew” what to expect… we would do it all differently and in some cases there were things we’d never do! But, by our third… well, we both know how much we changed in that arena! Ha!
I made a mistake by agreeing with you that there really isn’t a point to renewing one’s vows. I know you were really against all the money being spent on the whole process more so than the actual act, but I have a feeling you may agree with me on this…
There’s a point to all this so please bear with me, but do you remember when you asked if I was told right before we got married about everything that’s happened over these eighteen years, would I have chosen differently. I hesitated in answering and then said I didn’t know, but then I went into a whole speil about how I doubted that I would have done anything that wouldn’t have led me to you on this day.
Well, I’ve come to realize that you are, in fact, owed something from me. Just as a teenager has no idea what’s in store for them until the first time they hit the gas pedal or a couple finds themselves with a newborn, I had no right extending those vows to you eighteen years ago. I stood before you blindly and without experience, offering nothing but pure faith to and in you. But given all that’s lead to this very second, I fully understand the act of renewing one’s vows.
We’ve logged the hours behind the wheel and we’ve paid our diaper dues! I have endured days without you and felt the warmth of the brightest star in your arms. I have been to Hell and back with you, and then some, but we’ve always found our way home. We’ve seen the best this world can offer and I have had the privilege to have seen your smile. We have lived bountifully and you have never swayed from loving me, even if we thought we’d find ourselves in a box…
I have held your hand in the most debilitating of times and I have seen the possibilities of a life without you. I have watched from the sidelines, helplessly, as God himself was deciding whether or not to bring you back to him. But, I have also laughed and romped through the sunniest days along your side, floating through a world that can only be described as a dream… sharing every precious moment with you, finding myself lost in a fairytale.
And when the time comes, I fear not for I have known you long before now and I know I shall know you for eternity. In three seconds, I knew who you were. I knew because I remembered. So, Ann…
“I, Adam Kiger, take you, Ann Kiger, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
Please let none of this say, “I love you.” Allow my every action to do that. Let every word and every second of these efforts simply say, “Thank you.” And when the time comes, let all this hopefully steer our daughters and their children as close to the right direction as it possibly can... letting all this set the example for them for years to come.
Finally, eighteen years ago, to the day, we crossed paths, changing both of our lives forever. You were the first to show me dignity. You were the first to offer me a world without expectation. You were the first to tell me the truth, always and you were the only person to ever love me unconditionally. You have loved me through every mistake and every falter, you truly are my biggest fan. It’s you and me against the world, it always has been and it always will be.
Again, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Size: 6 x 4 (inches)
Materials: 90lb Cold Press Paper
Frame: Mini Wooden Shadow Box with Glass (4 5/8"W x 6 5/8"T x 1.25"D)
Completed: Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Artist: Adam Kiger
Represented By: Park View Gallery
Artist's Website: www.adamkiger.com
Who is Ann and what is 31 flavors of love?!