August 19, 2011: Seth Putnam

August 19, 2011: Seth Putnam

Earlier, I sat sat a school board meeting in north Chicago and looked around the room. I saw middle-aged men and women whose lives now revolve around providing a good education for their children.

I looked at the rings on their fingers, simple gold on the men and extravagant rocks on the women, and wondered: Are they happy?

Tomorrow, in the heat of a scorching August evening, one of my college roommates is getting a ring of his own. Soon after that, he'll be heading to a permanent job in London. Over the past 24 hours we've taken part in copious amounts of meat-eating contests, cheering, drinking, laughing and pranking (most of which can't be recorded here, but I can reveal that there was a citizen's arrest involved).

He's one of the last of my college buddies to get married (apparently we send 'em off young at Mizzou), and at the rehearsal, my old soul began putting deeper thoughts on my mind than how many hot dogs we could pack into our bellies at a baseball game.

I sit over a pint of Old Style at the kind of Chicago saloon you would have expected to sponsor a 16-inch softball team in the 1980s, talking with a married friend about how easily the spark can go out.

Nothing is guaranteed. Why does love take blood, sweat and tears? Because starting out with clear eyes and full hearts doesn't mean you'll finish the same way. That part takes unquenchable desire and the promise that you'll keep running the race when your legs feel like noodles.  Love is just as much a struggle as it is complete euphoria.

It's easy to quit, but it's also worth the fight to see it through. So as I watch them holding hands by a river, smiling at each other and dreaming of their future together in foreign lands, I wonder: Will they be happy?


About the author: Seth Putnam ( is a magazine journalist and the editor of The Midwestyle ( He enjoys long walks on the beach, luge lessons, and summers in Rangoon.

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