Saturday, August 16, 2008

an even dozen


In six months, that young couple there, visiting White Sands National Monument on a bright and windy Sunday morning in February of 1996, will be married. They'll have an appointment at the Washington County Courthouse for 10 am on a Thursday, the 16th of August. It will be the day after she moved to Oregon. Following a ten month courtship, half of which was long-distance, he will have flown down to West Texas to accompany her on the long Northwestern drive. They rolled into town late, unpacked her crammed little ford escort in the dark.

The civil marriage ceremony was conducted in a drab office. They had no friends and family present; they asked the couple who married earlier to please remain in the room as witnesses. It was a business transaction, say this, sign here, okay. By half past ten they were married. They drove back to their apartment, stopped in at a diner on the way for an early lunch, sandwiches.

They didn't have a party. They didn't have cake. They didn't think to ask anyone to take their picture together. The only picture from that day, just after she got dressed that morning:

wedding day

She looks happy, doesn't she? Can you feel her nerves, her hesitance? Her brave smile? Can you tell that she won't sleep the following night, from worry? In one day she moved to a new place, got a new name, catapulted into a new life where she knew not one person (she wanted to count him, but did she really know him, really? It all happened so fast).

If you're the happier ever after sort, then I probably don't want to hear about it. It's not a cushy litter ride, the bumps and rough spots buffered by a layer of tufted pillows, peeled grapes in a bowl by our sides. It's hard work. But we're still in it, and I think that counts for something.

Celebratory plans involve garage cleaning and yard maintenance. We'll leave the dinners out and special excursions to the sort of people who are comfortable paying teenaged babysitters or have local grandparents. (maybe when the children are older, she sighs). The day will go by generally unnoticed, much like the first one.

Which, as it turns out, is okay. I've seen some big happy parties that fell apart soon afterward. We carefully step over the broken glass and confetti, plodding along.


Blogging Molly said...

your story is the kind of fairy tale i prefer.


Lisa said...

Happy Anniversary.

We are only about 7 1/2 months ahead of you in the long, windy and sometimes difficult path that is marriage.

You know, if you wanted to go out to lunch or dinner or something, just the two of you, we are here. We don't have local grandparents either, so know how it goes.

I hope you all have a pleasant day and no heat stroke with that yard maintenance.

peggy said...

Happy Anniversary!

And thanks for telling it like it is. That other carried off into the sunset together story is for suckers.

Angelina said...

I've rarely read a more melancholy anniversary post!

Although I'm a happily ever after person when it comes to movies, real life is what it is. I know that marriage is a lot of work and packed with difficult moments. I am uncomfortable with couples who coo and get soft focus on me.

Happy anniversary.

I love that picture of you. I think you look younger now than you do in that snap. It's the outfit I think.

april. said...

angelina, shortly after we got married, brian and i went and had our picture taken (at sears!) and then sent the resulting portrait to various family members. anyway, on several occasions, friends of my sister thought it was a picture of her *parents*! i am only 3 years older than her, by the way. i was mature and matronly and wore makeup and used hair products and dressed in a tailored way. now i dress like a twelve year old boy but i have a lot of gray hair and wrinkles. i do it all wrong, i guess.

Green Kitchen said...

It all sounds familiar, in a good way.