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!
we did something so ordinary today that it was absolutely extraordinary:
we applied for a marriage license. in DC. we went to the courthouse, found a parking spot, went into the building, got scanned at the metal detector (got my camera temporarily confiscated but that’s ok) and…asked where we–my partner, my longtime female partner, and i–could apply for a marriage license.
“fourth floor,” the security guy said as his metal detector beeped over my wedding rings. “and congratulations,” he added with a smile.
i smiled back and said thank you. i felt like pinching myself. it was just…so ordinary. so normal. so everyday-weekday-just-another-couple-applying-for-a-marriage-license. i felt so happy (absolutely elated, in fact). i felt like part of the crowd, like everybody else. i felt…respected.
as a same-sex couple in america, you just get used to feeling–in “official” situations and everyday situations, too–less than. as not valid. i mean, for crying out loud, i still have to mark “single” on medical forms! and taxes! even tho we had a *huge* wedding and holly and i have been together almost nine years. but today we weren’t less than. today we were on equal footing like all the other couples in the marriage bureau. we had the same paperwork. the same people processed our information. we have to wait three business days for our license like everyone else. just like everyone else. oh my gosh how i love saying that. just like everyone else.
we got up to room 4485 and got in line. luckily there wasn’t a crowd (or protestors outside) like there was wednesday, when DC began issuing marriage licenses (or, rather, taking applications; regardless of gender, all couples have a three-day waiting period until a license is actually issued). there were a few couples in front of us, and then, eventually, behind us. we all stood on the institutional tiles together, waiting. i kept joking with holly that she could still back out. b/c, until this point, we have been, as i like to say, “unlawfully wedded.” i played a lionel richie song for her on the way to DC, “stuck on you” (i’m sure you know the one, even if you don’t realize it–good song!).
“you ready to be stuck?” i asked holding her hand, smiling mischievously as baltimore’s industrial scenery whooshed by.
“you ready to be stuck?” she asked back.
we both laughed and sang along a little. yeah, we were ready.
eventually it was our turn, and we were called into the tan-carpeted, downright drab government office. it could have been the taj mahal as far as i was concerned, i was thrilled just to be there. we signed in and handed off the necessary paperwork (which we got online and filled out at home to save time), our drivers licenses and sat back down. then a worker with a thick accent called us up. he asked us to check out the forms to make sure he had inputted all of our information correctly. we told him it was and then, without warning, asked us to raise our right hand and pledge that everything we had written down was correct.
we raised our right hands and pledged yes. just as he was reciting his lines, i noticed they had a radio on, close by, it sounded like. it was that great new train song, “hey soul sister.” everything felt so perfect. even tho holly was so tired from a trying week (see my previous entry; we just got back yesterday afternoon) and was a little grumpy. and it was hard to understand exactly what the guy was saying with his thick accent. and i was hungry (hey it was past 11:30 and i hadn’t eaten lunch) and there were still little mounds of dirty snow piled up on the sidewalks here and there all over the city and i had the hangover of a five-day migraine…i swear it felt so perfect. more perfect than our wedding day, even, which was so rife with stress and worry. i started tearing up. i looked over at holly to see if she was, too, but quickly averted my eyes just in case the guy thought i was trying to hide something. i practically had to bite my lip to hold back tears.
we left and stopped to pay $45 at a cashiers office. then we went downstairs and picked up my confiscated camera.
“you do what you came to do?” the same security guard asked.
“we sure did,” we said.
and with that, we walked out into the cold and back to our car, which, thankfully, wasn’t towed or even ticketed since we parked it in a spot that we weren’t for sure certain was 100 percent legal. a miracle, i thought. a special present for our marriage license application day.
as we were driving away, i was like, did you hear our song? they were playing our song! holly asked which song. “hey soul sister,” i said. that’s not our song, she said, annoyed. i thought you were talking about our wedding song (technically, we have two, since we each dedicated one to each other at our wedding reception). i explained that although it’s not our song per se, it’s a song we both like and sing along with. and since i’m basically still five years old, i consider this one of “our songs” and figure she does, too.
“it’s one of our songs,” i said.
“no it’s not,” she said.
we agreed to disagree, and i told her to stop being such a grump. i couldn’t help laughing a little bit inside. we were really annoyed with each other for about 30 seconds there, not even 15 minutes after we, for all intents and purposes, were finally were legally bound to each other. the more things change, the more things stay the same. i’m smiling now as i write this.
so our day wasn’t perfect (we had other “moments” on the way to the courthouse; holly had some…road rage issues, we’ll just say–love ya, babe, no worries), but what day is? marriage isn’t about perfection. it’s about patience and love and understanding, even when you’re tired from a long week and the chips kind of feel down b/c life has had more climbing than coasting lately.
we wanted to have a celebratory lunch. i told holly that it was up to her, just not chinese, and she really couldn’t decide. we finally settled on raku in dupont circle. i surprised myself by ordering actual sushi, like with (a small amount of) raw fish inside (tuna–always a benign choice–and no seaweed; they now have a soy paper option, thank goodness) and topped it off with a tofu salad. holly ordered a huge japanese beer, which took the edge off and had her relaxed and smiling. i silently cheered once more as we got back to our car, which, again, was parked in a spot that was…mostly legal. another gift.
we stopped at our kosher butcher (they catered our wedding) and got a hug and a mazal tov from one of the owners that we’ve become friends with. we bought some chicken, one of the workers gave us a good deal on a couple nice steaks, and we picked up a few cookies at the bakery. we stopped at starbucks to get some coffee to enjoy them with, and drove home, the sun warming our knees along the highway. we were in maryland, and i felt a certain peace in my heart knowing that once our license is issued, we’ll be able to drive back and forth from dc to our home in maryland and still be married. what a huge couple weeks it’s been for us. i don’t take any of these victories for granted, and realize that there’s still a chance they could be taken from us. but for now, we won’t think about that.
no, for now, i’m going to sit here on our couch–next to my partner, my soon-to-be-legal spouse–who’s sleeping at the moment, actually, and keep living like we have, keep blogging, keep climbing until we can finally coast a little. i’m going to savor these victories we can one day tell our children about, who will, upon hearing about them, shake their heads with wide eyes that same-sex marriage wasn’t always legal in this country. the same way we shake our heads with disbelief that segregation even existed in this country. tonight i’m going to sleep well knowing that today we were part of a very significant time in our nation’s history. small victories, i keep telling myself. b/c rome wasn’t built in a day, you know? we each have to do our part to build it. we built our tiny little part of it today in a drab, tan-carpeted downtown dc government office sometime between 11:45am and 1pm. and all for $45.
(oh and for the record, yes, holly was tearing up, too. and whether she wants it or not, we totally have a new song now. sing along if you know the words! haha. goodnight!)
holly and i watched our wedding video for the first time last night. i’m not one that likes to even look at photos of herself, much less moving images. so let’s just say i wasn’t one of those recent brides who was bubbling over with excitement at the mere *thought* of watching her wedding video.
after viewing it in its entirety, i must say the following:
1. yes, the camera really does add 20. i’m not kidding. this must be why tv personalities are so skinny in real life. b/c if you’re, say, a normal, average-type weight (which i consider myself to be) you will no doubt look like a blimp on the tube.
2. boy i really looked like i was gonna throw up under the chuppah! (that’s the jewish marriage canopy; the couple stands under it during the marriage ceremony) also, my eyes were moving around a lot! i looked a little weird. but it could have been worse: i could have barfed. or fainted. which i didn’t. and for that i give myself three snaps in a z formation.
3. holly and i kept talking to each other during ceremonial things. what were we talking about?! ya got me. (tho, if memory serves me right, we were just trying to keep each other from aforementioned barfing and fainting.)
4. clearly i blanked out. from nerves, i suspect. b/c doggone it! all that stuff the rabbi was saying? yeah, totally forgot what she said. don’t even think i heard it in the first place. nice ceremony, tho!! glad i finally got to hear it!
5. we have good-looking friends!! haha! no, i knew that already. but all you guys, if you’re reading, you looked fabulous. really and truly.
6. for some reason, i didn’t realize the sheer mass of ppl dancing the horah with us and around us (that’s how us jews celebrate–we dance around and around in circles til we’re dizzy. then newlyweds are hoisted up on chairs and bounced around in the air by drunk ppl! i must say, i surprised myself by how much i enjoyed this!) holly and i were in the middle of the circle. then my mom and i linked arms and danced. and it’s funny, i mean, i knew there were ppl around us, but i was so focused on holly, then my mom, that i didn’t notice. our cameraman (our friend peter! hi pete!) must’ve stood up on a chair and he got this spectacular aerial view. and i was awestruck by all the friends circling around us. i mean, it was unbelievable. so much love, so much support. all these bodies and smiles swirling around and around us…finally seeing that on video was worth every wince of actually seeing myself on camera. it really was. thank you, wonderful friends, for surrounding us with so much love.
what you’ve all been waiting for! (us, too!) i haven’t seen all of ’em yet, just what our ridiculously awesome photog posted to her blog. but here’s a few of my favs:
i promise, there’s more to come. my goal is to walk you thru the day with photos and text. jaime (our photographer) wrote the most beautiful recap of the day here, under the heading “love conquers all.” and honestly, i think it does. even as our economy kind of, well, collapses (and we’re suffering from that, too) and our one-day plans to go to cali and “make it legal” sort of, yeah, also collapsed, we need to remember how important our loved ones are in our lives. i feel so blessed to have found someone to love me unconditionally–despite all of my neurosis (oh, and i have many) and my headaches and my occasional (maybe more than occasional?) badass jersey ‘tude–for the rest of my life. the great news is that our lives are just getting started. with holly by my side, i’m so much stronger–so much. we will take on this world together.
happy friday, everyone!! here’s to a restorative weekend. i think we could all use one of those.
ok, so b/c of the stupid flu-type thing i had earlier this week, i couldn’t post an entry for our one-year engagement anniversary. i wrote a cute blurb, gosh, probably over the summer, for our wedding website (c/o theknot.com) recounting the “event,” if you will.
nyc was a winter wonderland when we got engaged. it was just amazing. the cold weather, red starbucks cups (love those!), jingly holiday music and twinkling lights that have suddenly popped up everywhere bring it all back. to all of my friends who have already read this, ummm, read it again? or skip it? to everyone else, enjoy! i still crack up every time i read it.
WHEN WE GOT ENGAGED December 1, 2007
HOW IT HAPPENED Although Holly tried to hide it, Jessica knew it was coming. The couple planned a weekend trip to Manhattan, and Holly was obsessing over finding the perfect horse & carriage ride (or, as Holly says in her charming Pittsburghese, “horse ‘n buggy” ride) around Central Park. Jessica was suspicious, but—for once!—said nothing.
They made the brisk, blustery walk from their hotel that Saturday night, past the glowing Christmas store windows on Park Avenue, past the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, weaving in between shoppers and reveling at the sparking city all around them. They chose a horse & carriage with a friendly Irish driver who absolutely insisted on pointing out cinematic landmarks as the two of them shivered under a blanket Holly placed on their laps.
“That was where Kevin saw the ‘Pigeon Lady’ in Home Alone 2,” he chirped.
Jessica felt Holly’s nerves. She got nervous, too.
“That’s the ice skating rink from Serendipity!” he said.
Oh my gosh, man! Jessica thought. Shuddup!
Holly told Jessica to stand up, turn around and take a picture of the shimmering skyline peeping out above the trees. When she sat back down, Holly retrieved a glass gift box from under the blanket filled with shiny red ribbons and a little blue box. Holly lifted the tiny box, opened it, took out the ring and, in a near-whisper, said, “I was wondering, if you’re not doing anything for the rest of your life, maybe you’d like to spend it with me?” She slipped a sparkling diamond ring on Jessica’s finger, and Jessica became, as the good Linda Richman of Saturday Night Live might say, a little vaklempt. “Yes,” she stammered, smiling. “I was so nervous for you!” They both collapsed into laughter, moments away from the end of the ride—and completely freezing. The Irish driver remained clueless, and took a photo of the two before they stepped off the carriage. (We’d post that photo here, but we both look like a couple deer in headlights.)
They walked back to their hotel hand in hand, with Holly reminding Jessica at every intersection to “Please stop staring at your ring, honey, or else you’re going to get hit by a car.” They ducked into the nearby Trump Tower so Jessica could revel in the sparkliness of her new ring under its bright lobby lights, but were promptly kicked out as it prepared to shut down for the night. Unphased–but a little cold–the girls returned to their hotel, both a lot less nervous and ready to start planning the bash of a lifetime.
holly & i, towards the end of our reception. (we both changed into "jean chic" to match the rest of our guests. yes! we requested our guests wear jeans. we're really *that* cool. i know i know 😉
and how do i even *begin* to tell you, my loyal blog readers, about our wedding?? how?? this is the question i’ve been mulling over the past week as we took our “staycation” honeymoon. [which srsly? the BWE (best. week. ever.] i don’t even know where to start.
i’ll start out by saying that man! it feels so good to have it all behind us. i mean, i’m kind of sad that it is (i was warned of this feeling) but my relief–our relief–is outweighing this in a big way. also? it’s so wonderful to be married! i feel like such a cheese saying this! but, really, it does. nothing’s changed (we *have* been together the better part of eight years) but…something’s changed. if that makes sense. just to know that neither one of us is going anywhere. not that we were before but you know what i mean. it just feels so good. and also? wearing two shiny rings? LOVING IT! anyone who knows me knows i love shiny. [shiny lipstick, shiny dress. (which omG you’ll see pictures of soon!)] no more planning. no more what ifs. it’s over. done with. we can move on and stop stressing.
i’m also happy to report that neither one of us threw up (could have) or fainted (ditto) under the chuppah like i feared one (or both) of us might. our ceremony was better than i could have possibly imagined, and touched our guests far beyond my wildest dreams. my dress fit like a dream. i didn’t cry my eye makeup off. the food was friggin awesome. the cake was, omG, to die for. everyone danced [one of the top moments of the entire day: slow dancing to michael buble’s “home” (my song to holly) with *the most* amazing array of couples dancing alongside us) and basically partied like, well, let’s just say like they drank about $1,500 wortha booze! (hell’s yeah, guys! way to GO!) and now that the dust has settled, i’m also happy to report that we’ve both finally gotten some sleep (i was runnin on E saturday the 15th, our wedding day, w/only about two hrs of sleep the night before and only about four the night before that) and i can finally think in a straight line. (well not that straight. haHA! sorry, lil gay humor there. lil bit.)
ok, now the “heavy stuff.” i’ve been kind of stressing (me? stress? shocker, right??!) about something else. how to say this…
well, i started this blog partially to chronicle our wedding. and now it’s happened. and…i want so badly to tell you all that it was perfect. that everything was absolutely perfect. but i’ve made it my business to be honest on this blog–and honest to myself. and the cold, hard reality of life on planet earth is that (drumroll please!) nothing’s perfect. (but you knew that already) and that includes weddings, too.
i’d really like to tell you that it was a fairytale. but, while it was wonderful, it wasn’t a fairytale. some crappy stuff happened, and i…i just don’t want to disappoint you. and now i’m grappling w/how i much i should say and what exactly i should tell you. one huge, blaring issue i’m facing in this regard is privacy. not my privacy but my family’s. my kneejerk reaction is just to go on a big jersey girl rant about everything and just…let it all hang out. but i can’t and i won’t. so i’m trying to figure out a way to explain things w/out giving too many specifics.
honestly, it’s a lot. the whole thing was a lot. a lot to process. a lot of emotions, many of which i’m still processing. but the last entry i posted, the night before the wedding…about falling, falling into my friends’ arms. i will say that it was my friends, our friends (and our cousins! man we have great cousins), that gave us the support that we needed. and they surrounded us with such love, such unyielding support that we…we shined. we glowed. we rose above everything else and were…brave. we were brave. we’ve agreed we were brave to have this wedding. a lot of same-sex couples don’t have weddings b/c of what they’ll face, mostly from their families. we didn’t just have this wedding for ourselves. we had it as a public statement of our love and commitment to each other. i hope we’ve inspired others to do the same.
(p.s. i’ve decided that the best way to tell you about the wedding–including the jewish ceremony–is step by step thru photos. so sit tight as jaime gets things together. in the meantime, you can check out this preview. lots more to come. ttys 😉 xox jessica)
i shouldn’t be blogging! but i can’t stop myself. i’m getting married today. today.
let me tell you about today (or yesterday, rather, since it’s technically saturday today): today was a rollercoaster. today was not the greatest day. it honestly felt like a bad reality show, like a wedding reality show that makes you cringe. the kind that i beg holly to change, “plllleeeeeasechange it, hunny! please. this is too stressful, i can’t even watch.” yeah, that kind of day.
a lot of tears. family drama that did notneed to go down. and me, just freaking out about everything. but now here i am, in a dimly lit hotel room with my maid of honor. i can hear the gentle whoosh of the dc traffic five stories below. it’s the first quiet i’ve had all day.
does anyone remember that trust game they made you (if you went to camps like me!) play back when you were, say, a teen? like, maybe in your early teens? you would stand with your arms crossed in front of your chest like a mummy, your back against a sea of your peers, all their hands up, waiting for you.
“ready to fall,” you’d say, with every last piece of you not wanting to go.
“fall away,” the group would say.
and you fell….and it felt like forever until you reached that sea of hands (when in actuality it was just a couple feet). and suddenly, for a brief moment, you had let yourself go. you closed your eyes, maybe just for a second, and during those split seconds, were worried that you’d hit the ground. but instead this giant net of human warmth caught your body and pushed you back up.
that’s today. that’s my friends.
it’s so hard to let myself go. it is sohard. and i don’t know why. but i’m learning to do it. today i let myself fall and my friends caught me. even just the hold of your gaze. i don’t know what i would do w/out you guys. i am so blessed.
tomorrow (ok, today), i am going to let myself go even more. i am going to try to be a princess even tho it’s so hard for me. it’s so crazy: i feelall of you rooting out there for me. i actually feel it. strangers, even. and friends from long long ago (and you know who you are and thank you for your voicemail; when i said it meant the world to me, i meant it). your notes in the mail (thank you, jen!), your facebook messages, the texts, the blog comments…i’ve needed it all.
goodnight, everyone! goodnight, goodnight. here’s to a new chapter in my life. here’s to love and hope and forever. to soaking up every moment. to every last piece of advice that all of you have passed my way. here’s to my wedding day. here’s to letting myself fall. xxo jessica
then you know i’m really nervous. b/c honestly? as if the name of this blog didn’t already give it away, i’m constantly hungry. like, most of the time, it feels like. and right now? yeah, not so hungry!
i must give the disclaimer that i’m mostly excited. i mean, i’m nervous, too. not about getting married, per se, more just like…being the center of things. b/c i’m not a fan of that. sure, i like cracking jokes (always have). but that only makes ppl notice me for a few moments. and with words–with this blog or my name on an article–no one actually sees me.
ok, here’s something really dorky that i’ll tell you even tho my better judgement is screaming at me not to: my mom had to stop throwing me birthday parties when i was little b/c i would always start crying at them. she says it’s b/c i probably felt overwhelmed. and that’s true, i bet. but my gut tells me, the itsybitsy tiny bit of memory i have of those times, says that i just couldn’t deal with being in the middle of it all.
it’s funny how we develop into adults…that these little bits and pieces of our youth–or our earliest childhood, even–stick around with us. i’m older and wiser now, but i still cringe thinking about all these eyes on me (gulp: the day after tomorrow!). hopefully i won’t break out into, like, hives or something. srsly! don’t laugh! (ok, you can laugh. it is kinda funny) but hey, at least i won’t be in a pointy birthday hat. plus i’ll have a whole team of professionals huddling around me to make sure i look fabulous (no, not just “fabulous.” faaaaaaaaabulous!). and? AND? my make-up artist’s brushes?? totally touched the face of mr. president-elect obama! i know, right?? and if that isn’t good luck, well i don’t know what is…
and what the HELL am i doing up now anyway?? it’s almost 1:30 am and i need my bride-to-be beauty rest! plus i’m too *old* for this, esp. on a ‘school night’! haha.
it suddenly occurred to me all the mischief i’m going to get into w/my peeps when they arrive. (oh and they’re arrivin’ all right: all w/in ten mins. of each other tonight at BWI. welcome to baltimore, girls!!!!) and a certain someonehas promised me an early-morning breakfast satuday at our place, just like old times–when we called the district home, back when we earned hourly wages and dreamed of the things we’re doing right now, assuring each other that yes, our ships would come in, “laden with jewels,” we’d say. oh the ship’s a-comin in, bebe. i’m gonna be jumpin on yr bed, nicolina, early saturday morning so you’d better be READY to go out and get caffeinated! [no jetlag! no GBS (grumpybear syndrome)!] we gots some big days ahead of us! plus we’re gonna git our NAILS DID! yeeeeeehaw, girls!! i can’t wait to see your beautiful faces!!!
so i just ran into my work friend heather at safeway during our lunch break. the bank tellers and i were just finishing up a gush session about the wedding (i know, i’m such a girl; but this wedding stuff is contagious!) and all the sudden, she pops by and is like HEY! i knew i heard you! and so we giggled and before i knew it we were hugging and crying! she’s so excited about the wedding. she’s been excited since the very beginning, and she has been soooo helpful, stopping by my office giving me all these fashion tips and whatnot. she can’t attend, unfortunately, b/c her best friend’s baby shower is on the same day, but man, she was like “omG it’s this weekend! your wedding’s this weekend!” and i was like “omg i KNOW!” and our eyes started welling up. “i’m gonna cry!” she said and starting fanning her face. then i was like, “aw heather! you’re gonna make mecry!” and then we started hugging and crying right there in safeway by the checkout lines. dont’cha just love that??? i mean, this is such a special time. for ppl to just be, like, excited for you. even random ppl that you don’t know, like bank tellers. they find out you’re getting married (women, esp.) and they get this look in their eyes and they’re like awwwwwwwwwww!!!! i love that. i really do. i admit it–and i’m absorbing every ounce, every last drop.
in case you’re wondering, the pics above are a sampling of our latest shoot w/our fabulous wedding photog. i chose these two to share as sort of a joint celebration of our upcoming marriage and our president-elect.
mr. obama, if you’re reading this: hi! you rule! cannot wait to pass your soon-to-be new house on pennsylvania avenue and actually be excited about who’s living there. your wife is faaaabulous. your girls are adorable! i will walk your puppy for you anytime. just email me 😉