“how does it feel to be a married woman?”

that’s what my 88-year-old great uncle ben asked me–with a bright, wide smile, his blue eyes shining–early thursday morning as i padded into the kitchen to pour myself a cup of coffee. it suddenly occurred to me it was the very first time, after nearly nine years with holly and huge jewish wedding a year and a half ago, that i woke up fully married–under the law. vindicated. respected. protected.

i smiled back at him and held back tears.

“it feels good,” i said. “it feels really, really good.”

it still does. the glow of our simple, st. patty’s day ceremony in dc’s dupont circle–just feet from the very bench we sat on during our very first date in early may 2001–has not left me. despite my mind-altering pms. and the stress of our day-to-day. and the fact that we’re really not sure about how our dc marriage will be recognized by the state of maryland (health insurance, for example), the glorious sunshine (the whole city seemed aglow, like it’d be under a dirty window wiped clean with windex for the first time in years) that seemed to fill my entire body, warm all of my skin at once and reenergize my winter-weary mind hasn’t left me.

i am still so happy. i am still pinching myself to check if this is real. am i really married to my partner? did i dream this all up? but then i see the big white envelope that holds our marriage license, the one with both of our names on it, and our joint address. and a big silver seal stamped (tuesday afternoon) by a grumpy dc marriage license worker (the same one that did our oath while “hey soul siter” was playing on the radio) with a piece of ancient manual machinery just before he handed it to us and said in his island-accented monotone, “congratulations.” i see that envelope and i know what’s in it and i know i’m not dreaming and this is all real.

i thought i saw a smile–not a half-smile, even, maybe a quarter-smile–creeping on his very unsmiley face, if only for the fact that it was the third time we’d been there in a week (once just to ask a question about officiants–yes, we drove all the way from baltimore simply to ask who, exactly, could marry us–b/c the office has been so busy no one’s been answering the phone).

yes we want to be married that badly, that visit said. we want to be married so badly that we drove the 45+ miles here and got stuck in who knows how much traffic just to ask you guys a question.

we held up our signed marriage license for photo after photo wednesday afternoon, a few close friends and uncle ben in the wheelchair we rented for him surrounding us. yes this is ours, i kept thinking. no, i can’t believe it. man this was so much better and more fun and less stressful than our first wedding. 

we brought that license with us where we are now, holly’s hometown in western pee-ay, to show her family. and yes, uncle ben’s with us! he is a road warrior. we’ve been taking him everywhere. in fact, he’s sitting on the guest daybed right next to the computer i’m sitting at right now. he just asked what i was doing, and i told him writing a blog entry on the wedding ceremony.

“oh,” he said. “well, why don’t i see you writing anything?” then i showed him how the screen scrolls down and he totally got it. we’re both still up and the rest of the house is asleep. we both eat constantly. we both share his mother’s, my great-grandmother’s, blue eyes. it’s really really nice to have him around.

we watched “slumdog millionaire” tonight (i had never seen it) and i’m just feeling so inspired. i feel like my life–our lives–are off to a brand new start. it’s like this big, gaping hole has been finally filled with this legal marriage and we can move on now. like all the hurt of our last wedding is over and the slate’s been wiped clean. i feel like everything and anything is possible. i never thought marriage could feel like this. i never thought a piece of paper with a stamp and a signature could change my life so much.

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