Thursday, December 16, 2010


Ten years ago today, on a cold, clear morning, Ben and I were married.

We hadn't planned on having a December wedding, our original date had been for the following June, but a semi-unplanned pregnancy had, traditionalists - at least in that respect - that we were, sent us to the altar ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, I had miscarried that baby two weeks before the wedding day. Strangely, instead of being devastated, the miscarriage was freeing. I had felt co-opted, taken over as host to this foreign body, made sick and grumpy. For whatever reason, six months later, when we conceived Mae, I was fully on board and embraced every bit of the pregnancy. And of course, if we had had that baby, we wouldn't have had Mae. And what would we do without Mae?

And so, this wedding, originally planned very quickly to make room for baby, was a mash-up of fast decisions, which, in the end, was perfect. I love fast decisions. There's a lot of art, a lot of fate, in fast decisions (also, of course, a lot of grief - "I know, let's move to San Jose!").

We planned the wedding for outdoors, without any real contingencies for rain. Of course, it poured for a full week leading up to the big day. But somehow, maybe it was just the weight of my confidence, when I pulled open the blind that morning, pale winter sunlight filtered into the room.

We were married in Mill Valley, the town where we both grew up. The actual venue, the Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club, is smack in the center of town. As a teenager, I had sat in my brown and orange polyester uniform in the cashier booth of the movie theater across the street and watched brides coming and going, wondering where and when and who I would marry. Little did I know it'd be a boy I already knew, in that very garden, when I was thirty (which would have seemed outrageously old to me then).

It was a very D.I.Y. affair. Insisting on reinventing the wheel, as we've done with many wheels since, we eschewed the wedding industry and made our own invitations (our high school senior portraits side by side) and our own party favors (tiny refrigerator magnets featuring goofy photo booth specials). My dress was Ben's mothers', a polyester J.C. Penny original from 1960. Our flowers were picked up by my mother-in-law at the flower mart in San Francisco early on the wedding day and then arranged by sisters-in-law. Instead of bridesmaids and groomsmen we had a few friends and family stand during the ceremony and read poetry of their choosing. Ben's mother and my brother officiated. The ceremony itself was a piece of creative writing, a he-said she-said account of why we wanted to marry each other ("Because she's 'sacho', that rare combination of sexy and macho in the best girl way possible", "Because I remember him when he was eleven, a puppy of a boy with a bowl cut and madras shorts"). The wine was poured by more family and friends. Another friend played DJ. The wedding feast was served in the street, from the In-n-Out roach-coach. My mother, who had graciously offered to pay for the shin-dig, asked me, when she heard the lunch plans, if I wouldn't want something "nicer". I wanted exactly what we had. And we took a certain pride in bringing it all in under five thousand dollars.

The day had its hiccups. Somehow, with extra family visiting and our desire to spend the night before the wedding apart, Ben had ended up sleeping in his mother's closet. My sister insisted on sharing my dressing room, spreading her make-up across the vanity, blowing dry her hair, monologuing, compromising my vision of my last moments of maidenhood (at least maritally speaking) spent alone with Megan and Evany, women who were more my sisters than the one I whom I happened to share blood. Ben's step-mom, Eulah, God love her, managed to not only lovingly usher her dog past the "No Dogs Allowed" sign into the architectural landmark (which I'm certain she didn't see, or if she did, assumed it didn't apply to her adored Soo-Ling, who was, in her eyes, more human than dog), but to actually snuggle up with the pooch in the official wedding portrait, unbeknownst to me. That picture now hangs on our wall and, now that I love and deeply know Eulah, it makes me grin every time I gaze on her wide open smile, Soo-Ling cradled in her arms.

It also had it's magic, of course. Ben's mother's dress fit me perfectly (which seemed Freudian, but no matter). And as we were saying our vows, the sun hit the golden star atop the Catholic Church across the street, illuminating it like the North Star, which somehow felt like a visitation from my father.

We had been told that this was to be the best day of our lives. Ben and I both disagreed. We viewed the wedding, the big party where we officially became a family, as merely the beginning of the best days of our lives. And we were right. It was a lovely day, exactly the day it should have been, but every day since, even the dull ones, even the out-right bad ones - maybe especially those - have constructed this thing we call our marriage. It has ten years of texture now, this tapestry we're weaving together. I'm so interested to see the shades of color, the warp and weft, the picture emerging as the years go by.

No comments:

Post a Comment