us! getting married! legally! (look at our cute friends!) photo by Christopher T. Assaf, Baltimore Sun / March 17, 2010
was that there was going to be a news crew there. (i keep a good secret, right??)
i’ll admit, i wasn’t really feeling the fact that there was going to be a Baltimore Sun reporter and photographer/videographer at our st. patty’s day outdoor ceremony–hell i had enough trouble having my photo taken at the first one, and we hired her (hi jaime!)–but holly talked me into it. after all, we’re a media-friendly couple, and i realized that our story could actually change some minds out there, so i decided to take one for the team.
so for all of you not living in the baltimore area (or that aren’t facebook friends), may i present to you…our legal wedding. (cheers to reporter scott calvert for doing a really great job. i’m a tough one to please, and even *i* teared up!)
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.
well, folks, the day has finally come. holly and i are getting legally wed tomorrow in DC. i am still pinching myself! it’s just too fabulous.
what’s additionally fabulous is the fact that we’re actually looking forward to this wedding (unlike our last one). we’re doing this for us and only us. and we. are wearing. jeans. [actually i’m topping off the jeans with even more denim: my favorite jean jacket. (a birthday present from holly many years ago)] no stress. no wedding dress. nothing fancy. just me, holly, uncle ben, and a handful of friends. then off to an irish pub to celebrate–hey it is st. patty’s day! this was holly’s request: to get legally hitched on st. patty’s day. how could i tell such a cute irish girl no??)
so yes, uncle ben. my 88-year-old great uncle ben (my late grandmother‘s younger brother; she had four, he’s the remaining sibling) is in town from florida for the ceremony and festivities. he waited at the au bon pain across the street from the courthouse today while we gave the marriage bureau our officiant’s name. (we set him up with soup and bread and coffee while he was waiting. so cute.) when we came back, we walked up to his table with our certificate in hand, nestled in a big white envelope behind a piece of cardboard.
we took it out to show him and his eyes just shined with pride and joy. it was all i could do not to burst out into tears.
he called his friend joe earlier tonight, an old friend from his florida condo complex (much like the one jerry seinfeld’s parents live in–i must admit it has a fantastic pool).
“joe!” he said (loudly) into his cell phone. (yes, he has a cell phone. he also does email and searches on google.)
“joe, tomorrow’s the big day! my nieces are gettin’ married!”
he was smiling so wide. he’s like the male version of my grandma. and he is crazy about holly. we both feel so lucky to have him here. he’s been one of our biggest supporters.
it took us a solid few days to find a non-denominational officiant (we already had a big jewish wedding once; don’t need another one!). he’s abbreviated his usual six-page ceremony down to one. i absolutely love it. it’s so simple. it’s so direct. it’s touching and it is legal. its simplicity it what makes it so special.
We gather today to marry ________ and ________. it begins. This is your time; this is your day. Today you once again declare your love and commitment to each other: this time sanctioned not only by your love, your vows and your solemn commitment, but by the law.
“but by the law.” the law! just like i said the other day, the whole thing’s so extraordinarily ordinary. the next time you hear from me, after nearly nine years with my partner, i will be legally wed!
it’s kind of like, if you didn’t know what you were smelling, or weren’t looking for it, you might not realize the smell. but since we do and we are, we smell it. this is disappointing after so many days away and the work the city has done (see previous entry) but we remain hopeful. the painters/carpenters are coming back tomorrow morning to finish the moulding and caulking (when you gut a house down to original bricks and ancient joists and then rebuild it, there’s always things to finish). soon we’ll have our exposed brick sealed. if the house still stinks after we do all that AND they remove parts of the first floor/basement ceiling next door, i….i don’t know what we’ll do. but as i was just telling nicole, what *can* you do?? we own this house. we live there (for now). so…we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
amtrak was crazy today. i still managed to nab a window seat tho. oh i do love a good train ride. esp. w/some good new music to listen to. so funny how i used to stare out those same amtrak windows while attending umcp going either to or from dc. i used to sort of gawk at all the boarded up, bombed-out looking houses when we passed thru baltimore. and think all the broken down industrial sites looked ugly. but now they’re sort of comforting to me, despite all the crap we’ve endured here. kind of wild now, all these years later, i’m married and living not all that far away from those neighborhoods…
while i’m thinking of it, i’d like to mention that the new music i was listening to was none other than the new lady gaga album, the fame monster, which, for the most part, is so good it literally gives me goose bumps. i shall wax poetic about lady gaga some other day, i suppose, but i must say it’s nice to have a real musician–all musician and just as much performance artist–making pop headlines these days. not since madonna has someone pushed the envelope this far. not that there will EVER EVER be a replacement for madonna, mind you (you may know about my undying love for her, winkwink). but it’s about doggone time we have something really fresh out there. plus she is a major friend of the gays (also a tad gay herself). also ppl pop out of pods in her new video (below). and she loves ellen (also below). love you, gaga! glad you hung in there. keep it up, girl. you are totally boosting my spirits.
i’m going to ignore my negligent blogging ways of as late and just launch right into things:
last night we saw an awesome new band (war tapes, photo above; check them out, srsly, they’re fantastic) for a free in-storeperformance here in bmore. they did a really great acoustic set (and were very cute, i may add, what w/the lopsided haircuts, skinny black jeans and brother/sister duo–i just *love* family band stuff, esp when it’s punky). personally, i think they’re going to go far, so i considser myself really lucky to have been a part of the small crowd there to see them. but it was talking to them after the performance, esp. their drummer, william, that got my mind ticking.
from the looks of their video (i’ll embed it here in my post) and their sound–also the fact that i heard them on a local, well-known radio station–i thought they were already the bigtime. turns out, they’re really just starting out. when i told them that, a couple weeks ago, i waited in my car until their song was over (i had just parked for the evening near our house) so i could hear what band did it, they were floored.
“did you hear that??” william said loudly to his bandmates. “she waited in her parked car until the song was over!”
“really?” they all said in unison.
i proceeded to tell them that their music really helps me write and gives me that much-needed inspirational boost to do things like my BFBP (Big Fat Book Proposal) b/c, you know, coffee doesn’t work on its own, no matter how much i drink (and i can drink a lot of it). this, too, made them incredibly happy.
william proceeded to tell me a little about their history, and how this was their first in-store performance. he was just so excited. and it got me excited for them. when i woke up this morning and got on the road to work, i was still excited, but the excitement had morphed into this general, huge excitement for the people i know, all my wonderful friends, who are working so hard, just wanting it so bad, chipping away, tirelessly, at all their creative endeavors. and then i got excited for myself, b/c i feel, truly, that i am riiiiight there. things are finally starting to fall into place for me–things i have worked years and years and years for. the same goes for my lovely holly.
things have been tough for us lately, and that’s the main reason for my recent absence(s) (and yes, i will tell you all about it, but you’ll have to be patient and wait for the book, winkwink). it’s just amazing how the human spirit can persevere, even when the lifeforce is being sucked out of you (dramatic-sounding, i know, but sometimes, unfortunately, quite true). even when you’re finally up and you get slapped down. i mean, gosh, i think about my lean years, so to speak, in the years after college, first as a reporter, then a temp in dc (omG as a temp, for a year and a half. now there’s some stories for ya. again: the book), then a reporter again in dc. i wanted it (journalism, opportunity) so badly. i could taste it. and while i’m much further along (i don’t have that early 20s desperation thing going on anymore) i can still taste it. the difference is now that i’m actually tasting it. as in: i know what it (success, reaching your goals) tastes like and, in those fleeting moments, i can say with full certainly that it’s damn good.
back in those lean years, oh and they were very lean. so lean, in fact, that dear sweet nicolina would take me regularly to the diner and treat me to whatever it was i was eating. we would sit across those wooden booths and tables from each other, swirling spoons in our coffee, and talk about all the things we wanted to do. i was having a helluva time back then.
“your ship’s going to come in,” she’d tell me with full certainty. “and when it does it will be laden with jewels.”
we say that to each other still, more than ever, as we’re both having a helluva time lately.
OMG THE SHIP! WHERE IS IT???? she emailed me on a particularly painful day earlier this summer.
the ship? i emailed back. ahh, the ship. let’s see…last time i saw it, it was stuck in some sludge in the inner harbor, like near the cheesecake factory and urban outfitters? i heard on the news that its rudders were jammed up with like, soda cans and bra straps and other junk. the mayor’s not returning my phone calls either but i’ll let you know once i hear something…
oh but the ship. it is there. and it is coming, so you’d better watch out. it will be laden with jewels for sure, also whiskey/rye (tho i am not a drinker this sounds hardcore and pirate-y), dark dark chocolate, gold coins and many many freshly roasted coffee beans.
so here’s to just a few of my peeps wanting it bad and working to make it happen: nicolina and temim and j. green and john, jaime and andrew and violet and carrie(and lots more that may not have websites, like, hello! j.miller who’s working on her dissertation and is going to be a one of those kickass famous infectious disease researchers who bravely goes into faraway lands in scary white suits).
all of us have–me, holly, my friends, maybe some of you that i don’t know out there reading this–have walked up this mountain and we’re almost at the tippy top. when we get there, which will be soon, we’ll part the trees and stand at the edge and look out the sprawling, majestic green green land and hills and sparkling blue sea before us–can you see it??–and breathe deeply and take it all in b/c it will be ours for the taking. and we will look back at all the struggling, all the hustling, the sheer want of it all, and it will feel all that much more spectacular.
i want to mention one more thing: i was looking thru this huuuuge andy warhol book in the library the other day and they printed copies of these two letters he received back in his lean years. one was from the museum of modern art rejecting a piece of art he had given them, saying they just didn’t have enough room for it, please pick it up. the other was from, i think it was the village voice, an art critic who basically wrote to the young andy saying: i don’t know what you think it is, but what you’re making is not art and you’re never going to be successful. now, say if you have a friggin napkin signed by andy warhol it’s worth thousands of dollars. how you like them apples??!
and with that, my inspiration for this blog post, the war tapes, who will be at the mountaintop (along with the shondes, ‘natch) with us, skinny jeans and all, providing the soundtrack for that spectacular view: