In a half hour, we will be married.
The Marriage Commissioner and photographer have yet to arrive, Krista time still to firmly, lovingly harass me into the gown, but just now, after an 18-hour ceaseless lashing of rain and wind, the sky has suddenly gone sweet and dry, and we burst onto our soon-to-be altar with grateful jigs, snapping pictures of the sun lasering open clouds into the lapis Strait of Georgia, turning the camera on one another. We are so happy in these pictures, so in love. And this moment epitomizes the key events of our relationship: mostly unplanned, or seat of our pants, in unwittingly direct violation of every social coupling norm, and just when it seems like it’s all going to hell and we’ll just have to chin up and make do, the skies crack cyan and gulls laugh and everything is perfect, lovelier than we could have imagined.
* * *
I had a handkerchief made for the ceremony, in Irish linen, monogrammed with my new initial and our wedding date, and I took to calling it my “weepy rag.” (Having children has fired a rawly emotional sentimentalism in me, and while it’s embarrassing enough to weep troughs over Mother’s Day crafts and dance recitals and the shelving of training wheels, I’m also a futile practicer of sentimentalizing the future : First day of kindergarten absolutely gutting? Imagine what high school graduation is going to be like! Distraught over both children heading into school age? Envision that echoic, brittle, empty nest! Heartbroken when the baby still clings on your exits? Really up the devastation by envisioning their grief at your final exit!)
Hence the weepy rag, because when it comes to future sentiments, my cry-hole is expeditious and proven, and the vows of marriage — religious or civil, traditional or modern, flowery or terse — are efficiently engineered to sentimentalize the future. We had written our vows, and I cried and cried every time I rehearsed them in mere (sentimental) expectation of actually voicing them to Michael. At some point, I actually wondered if the weepy rag was enough; should I have ordered a weepy blanket?
* * *
It is 30 June, 2012, and the moment I have spent my entire adult life actively fleeing is here, sun-gilded on sea, breeze-ruffed, anchored by boulders at the base of an ancient forest, and I have never been more at peace. We have been together nearly eight years, born and raised children, gasped along financially, endured medical crises and personal trauma, faced legal threats and familial strife, a whole biblical catalogue of ills… And despite this, every year, life for us has exponentially eased, bettered, streamlined and cohered us in the way that adversity does, if it doesn’t ruin you.
Sickness/health, richer/poorer, joy/sorrow… Krista has nicked my bouquet and weepy rag so I don’t fumble the ring exchange, and suddenly I’m vowing, gladly and assuredly… tearlessly. These are not the vows I imagined, the bridal promises of what-may-be; we have been doing this for years already, this better and worse. My eyes lock unblinking with Michael’s, and each vow is a silent reminiscence of what we have already endured and overcome together, and the promises loosely this: “What I did back there? I will always do that for you, for Us. Beyond the bitter end.”
(It’s somewhere after the Kiss, after the official Provincial declaration of our marital binding, that the tears come unloosed: the knowing that after these many years — and no small amount of discussion over whether marriage was even necessary for us — we have stolen away to another country like love-wild teenagers to be wed, arriving at this carefree, transcendent union. The sun glitters on the strait, gulls circle off the deck in a hora, and never in my Florida-raised Disney Princess fantasies did I imagine a wedding so quietly sweeping, or so fiercely sacred. The tears sluice free now, sweet and clean as afternoon rain, what our 6-year-old calls “joy tears.”)
* * *
May we always do it thus… all wrong, counter to everyone and everything we know, and somehow stumble into the surprisingly wondrous, joyfully and uniquely us, more sublime than we ever could have planned, exactly what we never knew we wanted.
Originally published in HouseOfClams