I’m getting married again.
The first time I got married, we started planning a year in advance. We had hand-made invitations and complicated seating charts for almost a hundred friends and family members. We tasted cakes and wines and hors d’ouevres. We agonized over the guest list. We booked a ballroom because we didn’t want to stress for a year that it might rain. (It didn’t.) My dad missed the rehearsal because of flight delays, but my friend Bill stood in for him. The officiant was my college roommate, who played matchmaker and confidante back when M and I were still unsure about ourselves and each other and who knows us better than anyone on earth. We managed every detail except for how to get to the hotel after the party was over. (The caterer called us a cab.) It was a beautiful, wonderful, magical evening, full of love and joy and dancing and tears and more love.
The second time I got married, it was a much more prosaic affair. We met a dear friend at the County offices, where she notarized our forms. We shoved them through the little window in the plexiglass along with a check for $60. The clerk was all business, but friendly enough. She said “Congratulations” as she slipped the Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership back through the window. I sent a message out via Facebook, inviting all and sundry to a local bar for drinks once we had our paper in hand. To my surprise, we packed the place for hours. I didn’t even know we knew that many people in town.
Today I am getting married for the third time because it’s finally legal in Oregon and, well, for tax purposes. I’m taking a half-day at work – unscheduled – and we’re picking the kids up from daycare a little early so we can meet the judge at 5:00 at the Courthouse. We thought about standing outside in the park or in front of the Christmas tree in the square, but the very real possibility of our three-year-old running off into traffic while we are speaking our vows overshadows our desire for a romantic setting.
We drafted two of our closest local friends to witness. Eric is our children’s honorary uncle. We’ve known him for ten years and he’s one of the kindest, most loyal friends a person could wish for. Rowan is one of those people whose path you cross a dozen times before it finally hits you that you are kindred spirits. It’s an unlooked-for, irrepressible friendship that still makes me shake my head in wonder. We’re counting on Rowan’s husband to wrangle the kids and maybe snap a picture or two.
As much as I resent that we have had to go through these motions three different times, I can’t help but marvel at the people who have stood by us, witnessing either in person or by proxy the promises that M and I have made to each other. A thread of love winds in and out and around the almost 20 years we’ve been together. But it doesn’t just bind us to each other; it weaves us into all of those other lives. Each time we do this, it’s another chance to step back and look at the beautiful tapestry we’re creating. There’s love, and there’s love, you know? And it’s all beautiful and wonderful and magical. So don’t tell M, but maybe I’m already looking forward to the next wedding.