What I read
Roy Hamilton and Celestial Davenport are on their way up. College educated young professionals in Atlanta they are confident and accomplished–Roy, in the business world; Celestial in the arts. Theirs would be a good life, stepping from one rung on the ladder of success to the next.
Their marriage isn’t perfect: there is her fierce independence and his flirtations. Their marriage is young: only eighteen months give or take. But love? They had it. Passion. Check. Commitment. You betcha.
And then Roy and Celestial’s world turned on its head after a night in a small town hotel when Roy, a good Samaritan, is accused of rape, arrested, and convicted. But innocent, no doubt.
What happens to that marriage when the couple is separated? Roy’s sentence is twelve years, but Celestial’s lawyer uncle gets busy appealing the conviction, and, for a time, weekend visits and letters seem to hold the marriage together.
Until it falls apart. Celestial’s hand-sewn dolls–and the artist herself–gain some fame. A woman has needs. Not only for sex, but for companionship and a co-created life. It is in the human soul to want a partner. So Celestial finds herself a married woman engaged to another man.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones also tells the story of parents who drop the ball and parents who never even caught it. Of parents who play the game with skill. Jones explores love and loss and the glue holds men and women together. Or doesn’t. Hers is a tender perspective on that old proverb that the greatest act of love is letting go.
What I lived
I’ve done this marriage thing twice. It’s complicated. Even more so when the principle players don’t have their shit together and must explore the idea that they might have built a house of cards.
When it comes to love and loss, I tend to side with Glennon Doyle’s Love Warrior philosophy. But that requires a whole lot of vulnerability and willingness to trudge through the muck. Sometimes that just ain’t happening for one of the players or another. Sometimes the warrior becomes a conscientious objector.
Like I said, it’s complicated.