Wednesday, December 10, 2008

(another chapter from The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage)

Thank You Everyone

Friends hung around until the end, eating up the sushi, nearly finishing the cake. Terri and Marty dragged McKenzie away around five o’clock. Terri had been our official photographer. At one point, we lined up all the relatives on our front porch: cousins, aunts, grandparents, siblings, plus Jeanna and Ellen’s daughter, Jordyn, who didn’t realize it was a family photo. It was a huge crowd standing on our front steps who’d managed to show up with two days’ notice.

Through it all, our marriage license hung on the wall. Our friends, Liz and Nan, had it framed as a wedding present, just in time for the reception. Jannine had set up a revolving slide show on her laptop with pictures of the wait in line, the licensing office, and our wedding, as much of it as we had documented. She put it together knowing that with something this spontaneous, this unexpected, it wouldn’t be real to people unless they could see it for themselves. Even for us, it was an amazing, unbelievable, ephemeral event we knew we would have to work to hold onto, legally and emotionally. Who’d have thought we’d see this day?

Despite there being two mothers- and one father-of-the-bride, none of them took the opportunity to throw a diva fit and demand things done his or her way. If they had any opinions about the way we went about the reception, or decorated, or did our hair (I ironed mine for the occasion), they kept it to themselves. Jannine’s dad was just happy to help out, hang with Graeme, and chat with Marty, who is a walking cornucopia of useful and obscure facts. Grandma had sequestered herself with Auntie Maureen in the kitchen at one point and caught her up on how the other grandchildren were faring, the upcoming Union strike that would affect Jannine’s sister, Cristy, and the latest work she’d been doing to the house. My mother kept close to Aunt Maggie, chatting up the guests, and having a long conversation about international travel with Jason’s roommate, Christopher, who’d recently returned from Malaysia.

When all the guests and relatives had gone, filled with cake and our gratitude, our friends, Amy and Brian, stayed behind with their daughter, Jessica. They were crashing for the night, and then leaving at the crack of dawn to go back to Seattle.

I have known Amy since sophomore year in high school, when we wore a lot of eye make-up, dated a lot of boys, and wore white jeans—even more appalling than the boys. We are far from the girls who used to hang out in the halls of Lincoln High after school with Terri, who came out of the closet when he was fifteen. Terri is dead. Amy is a twice-divorced mother of two. I am a newly married, lesbian mother of three.

Our spouses were busily planning a cupboard they wanted to build together during a longer visit, and had begun to pull out power tools, while I opened wedding presents at the kitchen table with Amy and ate leftovers—I’d forgotten to eat all day—until the older kids put themselves to bed, and Graeme could stand it no more, demanded to go to sleep—with me.

As I lay there in the darkness, the door to the kitchen closed to Jannine and Brian’s dialogue on power saws, and miter boxes, and god only knows, the snores of our two older kids came from the foot of the bed and the alcove under the stairs where they’d bedded down for the night since their rooms were otherwise occupied. Graeme had gone down in minutes, his head nodding over book number two, and by book number three, he was out cold, his pink lips parted, his rosy cheeks warm and soft.

We’d done it. They were happy for us: our friends, our family, the people who mattered to us most in the world. The wedding and celebration we thought would never happen because it wouldn’t be real, or legal, had happened. With a little help from our friends, we had pulled it off. It had been a labor of love.

Thank you, world.

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