Five years ago today we stood in a little backyard and, with four people to witness, we did something that left us feeling at once elated and guilty: we got married.
As one of the thousands of gap couples to get married before the passage of Prop 8, we approached our impending nuptials in a way that no couples we know have had to. We didn’t have a year (or even months) to choose flowers, make guest lists and worry over seating charts. We didn’t tour venues or attend fittings or sample cake.
At the time, we joked about how much easier it was when you were forced to downplay such a major event and were given a deadline – a day by which you had to have everything signed and notarized because the chance for a do-over relied on popular vote.
That day, in a backyard with Sarah McLachlan’s voice drifting from a tiny boom-box, I’ll admit I had the jitters. They had nothing to do with cold feet or stage fright (though I did stumble over my vows; speaking in front of people – even four - is nerve-wracking). The twisting in my stomach came from passing bright yellow signs with blue lettering that lined the streets of our neighborhood as we made our way to legalize the relationship we’d shared for nearly a decade.
Those signs stayed in the back of my mind and, even now, color how I remember that day. When I think about the unexpected charm of such a small affair and the little touches our friends added (though we asked for simplicity), I also think about how it felt like I was sneaking a cookie just before dinner – like I was taking something that wasn’t meant to be mine.
I regret nothing about that day that was within our control. And, under the same circumstances, I’d do it again.
Would I have liked a surprise proposal instead of a quiet discussion in the middle of the night that led to our agreeing to take a chance and hope it sticks (it being the legality of it, not our relationship, of course)? Yes, maybe.
Would I have liked a little more time to plan and to allow more people to share our day with us – to celebrate what we’d built over nine years together? Of course.
Will I always imagine what it would have been like to have my stepdad walk me down the aisle? Would he place my hand on yours and say, with his signature bottom lip poking out and a curt nod of his head, his voice not nearly as gruff as it could be, “Stephie.”? Probably every day.
The chance for some of these things have passed. But not for all of them.
I want to think about what we want and who we want beside us. I want to argue over seating and venue and songs. I want our son to stand with us because he needs to see for himself what people who love each other do: they stand up for and celebrate their commitment. Even if it’s been real for nearly fourteen years. Even if it’s been legal for five.
We said that we’d do it again when everyone is allowed to do it. We said we’d invite our friends and our family (and I’ll probably need to write down my vows because, remember, public speaking freaks me out). We said we’d do it – and I want to do it the right way.
I’ve seen enough movies to know how the right way begins.
So, what do you think? Will you marry me (again)?
Just hit send on this email with the subject Thank You:
This evening, to celebrate the awesome day our four-year-old had at preschool, we decided to have a special family night comprised of a couple of episodes of his favorite cartoon and dinner from McDonald’s - not too bad for a Thursday night after sitting in over an hour of traffic with a toddler who decided halfway through the trip that he needed to pee.