I’ve written about marriage a few times [here and here and here, for example] but the truth is, I never expected to get married. I never imagined myself in the flowing white dress, whipping the veil over my head and kissing my groom or my bride. I never longed for the pretty shoes or the tiara in my hair or whatever brides were doing in my growing-up years. I imagined myself with children, and with cats, and with family and friends all around me, but I never, ever, ever imagined myself as married. Even while I was working directly FOR marriage equality, I didn’t imagine the changing law would impact me directly.
To me, the struggle was for acceptance, acknowledgement that LGBTQ people exist and are strong and hearty, healthy and funny, delicate and creative and awesome … and if most of the U.S. needed “love” as a portal into our lives, needed “marriage” as an entry point they could understand, well then, okay, that was the fight I’d align myself with. But for me, it was never a struggle for my future as a married lady.
I don’t know if I can make myself understood to someone not living this life in my skin – as a lesbian who has sometimes fallen for men, as a child of divorce, as an activist who sees marriage as just one stop along the way to freedom – a damn awesome stop, especially as we see more and more states now for us than against us! – but a stop, nonetheless.
I don’t know if I can make myself understood because marriage has changed me and I don’t yet know how. Something inside me has shifted.
I’ve embraced my giddy.
Because it’s real. The giddy is REAL. Even if I can’t tell you why.
After the law changed in Illinois, after I proposed and Kelly said yes, after we wrapped our heads around the finances of a full wedding with people in attendance and public vows and fancy clothes and bourbon and beer and dancing, lots of dancing, we began searching for a venue.
We considered a brewery, an art gallery, public space with grass and gardens, literally our own back yard – but once we visited the art gallery where I’d helped plan and staff two non-profit fundraisers, and we began to imagine our family and friends, our ceremony and reception with a LIQUOR BAR IN THE FREIGHT ELEVATOR, we had pretty much decided… and when we followed the gallery manager to her back office and discovered the next available date was NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY, we signed on the dotted line and immediately texted friends and family who lived far away: BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW!!!
We had two and a half months to plan.
Following are a few excerpts from My Wedding Journal, which is a tiny blue notebook I pulled out of our kitchen junk drawer and claimed as my own. Because that’s how these things happen, right?
August 13th – Bought dresses. (1) Floor-length white for me, after Grace vetoed – vehemently vetoed – the shorter black dresses I’d been trying on up to that point. Not that I looked bad in them, but, “Wait!” she stopped herself mid-sentence as it dawned on her. “For the wedding?!” She’s more of a traditionalist when it comes to these things – and I guess I sort of am, too. (2) Shin-length sophisticated white dress for Miss E. Hers was the first we found tonight. Makes me wonder: Did I choose mine to match hers? (3) Grace’s dress is a beautiful blue. She is stunning in it. Stunning.
September 3rd – We’ve had our rings off for a week now, in an effort to make the ceremony ring exchange mean something. The first few days delighted me. Every time I felt the spot on my finger where the ring belongs, I delighted in knowing that soon, I would reaffirm my commitment to Kelly Sue – and she to me – and we would be wed. It makes me feel all giggly inside. Now, a week in (or more?), my hand just feels bare and I don’t like it. Not one bit. It feels wrong – not free – not preparatory – it’s like something has been torn from me and I want it back. I feel … not quite like myself.
September 15th – I wrote my vows. The first draft anyway. Do people do that? Do people draft their vows?
September 17th – We have our beautiful shiny rings back (cleaned and dipped at the jewelers) and we bought wedding bands – YAY!!! My finger doesn’t feel ridiculously naked anymore. I’m wearing my ring again, the ring I’ve worn for the past ten years. BIG GRINS!
September 20th –
I woke up this morning thinking how we need to pick music for the ceremony – and I desperately need jewelry! Plus, I managed to kill the orchids for my hair. Already. Of course.
On the other hand, Miss E’s friend is here for a sleepover and Kelly and I just witnessed a double wedding where both grooms had Ugly Doll heads and the brides wore curtain veils.
September 21st – Our niece gave us both marigolds because we’re getting married — honoring our love, sharing her culture. I have no words.
September 22nd – A friend on Facebook posted six weird (odd? unexpected?) facts about marriage. I clicked through to read the article, thinking afterwards: What?! Who AM I? I’m reading online advice about… Marriage.
September 24th – It’s an odd and fantastic life I lead.
September 30th – Here are the text messages I sent to a dear friend this morning:
- Today is the day I don my fancy boots, begin to unhinge from my sanity, and resist the increasingly powerful urge to call the whole thing off. Who has the time for a wedding in the middle of everyday LIFE?!
- I warned my colleagues yesterday that I might be a little “flippy” for the next two weeks. Every time I said the word “wedding,” they clapped. It was like a drinking game.
October 1st –
I have definitely reached the point where I’m making stupid mistakes. On Monday, I nearly covered my toothbrush in soap instead of toothpaste and tonight, I poured laundry detergent all over my nice clean bras, absentmindedly preparing for the next load of laundry. “Why didn’t you just throw your bras in again with the sheets?” my partner wanted to know.
“Different temperature. Different load.”
She just stared at me.
“I like to think – and please don’t burst my bubble here – I like to think that because of how I do laundry, our clothes last.”
“I’m sure they do, Honey. I’m sure you’re right,” she said.
Man, I love that girl.
October 6th –
Morning – I have become a blissful, jittery, teary, sensitive, excitable crazy person who loses words for everyday things in conversation.
We’re meeting at Daley Center to pick-up our marriage license – the same day our Supreme Court decided not to hear appeals in the five state cases affirming marriage equality.
An auspicious day. An auspicious act.
Butterflies fluttering in my tummy, excitement bubbling up from deep inside. Grinning ear to ear, forgetting how to spell. Today is Monday. It’s wedding week and I’m riding on a train into my future.
I asked where to go for a marriage certificate. A woman told me the room number and pointed in the direction I should go. I have never been in this building without the intent to protest. It’s a strange feeling to arrive on real business. My own business. With the state.
October 11th – Wheeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!
And then there was dancing and beer and bourbon and love, so much love …