Another anniversary. We’ve been married so many years that I now have to tell people we married when I was ten.
We’d do it again in a heartbeat. Sooner. Maybe in the womb. Once I heard an author say, “I loved him before I was born.” I knew exactly what she meant.
Here, once again, is another telling of That Day. Tissues ready?
“Why am I referred to as Dearly Beloved?”
Gee, he must have looked at my blog because this is the only place I ever call him that. He never reads it. Since he’s retired and home all the time, he assumes that he can’t be missing much.
Well, because when she said, “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here. . . “ you were the only other person there besides me.
He shrugs. “I knew where it came from; I just wondered why you picked that.”
He would prefer Handsome or Studmeister, but it’s no big deal. He settles in to read the paper and I am left thinking that my statement about the day is not exactly true. We were definitely not alone; there were throngs of people there that day.
DB has a romantic streak but sometimes it goes very wrong. Dreadfully wrong. Like the day we were married.
Neither of us wanted the hassle and stress of a big wedding. I mean, just how many crazy relatives would we dare to invite? I still had some he hadn’t met and was hoping to keep it that way as long as possible. (He was definitely not ready to visit the cousin with the huge “Jesus Died Here” neon sign on a pole in front of her house. )
We weren’t really eloping; we just decided on a quiet civil ceremony. . . just the two of us. He would plan everything.
At first he was talking “cruise” which sounded perfect to me. A wedding on the high seas? YESSSSSS!!! I fantasized about it for some time, but then he said he’d nixed that and was thinking “beach resort.” (Read “golf resort” because that’s what he was REALLY thinking, although I was clueless back then.) That cruise had really sounded nice, but okay, this option was fine.
That he had to move his golf clubs around to get my suitcase in the trunk of his car when he arrived at my house that morning should have been a hint.
We stopped for breakfast at a diner in the middle of nowhere, our dress-up attire and my corsage looking odd among the bibbed overalls and jeans. He spilled tomato juice on his pants.
“We aren’t going to be able to get married ON the island,” he clarified. “The county seat is on the mainland and that’s where the courthouse is. We have an appointment there at 1.”
The trip took several hours, but I felt like we were flying. I kept braking involuntarily on the passenger side, trying to slow the breathtaking speed. I needed some more time to make sure about this, needed time for second thoughts. I looked over at the speedometer. . . 50. . . 45. I looked at his face.
Serious and pale. Very pale.
We found the courthouse in the tiny county seat without any difficulty. Old it was… scenic, it was not. Pickup trucks and cars were parked all over the courthouse grounds and people–mostly men– were milling outside. What was this–a hunt club? Everyone there had at least one dog by his side.
Then we saw the sign: RABIES CLINIC 1 – 4 PM.
Picture it, please. . . the two of us: I in the new dress I’d accidentally hemmed too short, he in his spiffy blue blazer and tomato juice-stained pants, walking through what seemed the entire county citizenry and their critters. The bib overall industry continued to thrive in this neck of the woods.
The judge, a woman, had apparently decided against separation of church and state and had written her own ceremony, for she proceeded with vows to delight the most devout Baptist congregation. What we both remember most about the ceremony was being mesmerized by the ceiling fan directly above us. It seemed to be lowering ever so slightly with each s-l-o-w revolution. Edgar Allen Poe had surely overseen its installation.
We departed as newlyweds, walking out through the two lines of dogs and owners, most of whom were enthusiastically supporting the tobacco industry. Blowing smoke, not throwing rice.
At least it wasn’t a spay/neuter clinic.
I was thin then (really!) but as he carried me over the threshold and up the stairs, he accidentally hit me in the mouth when he tried to kiss me. My lip deteriorated from “normal” to “beestung” to “Lucky you’ve still got your teeth” in seconds. He staggered from bedroom to bedroom, still hauling me around, trying to decide…. It seemed that the four bedrooms in the deluxe villa were all furnished with twin beds. Even the master.
We slept on a single twin bed the entire time.
Dinner in the candlelit restaurant was embarrassing: we could barely eat our steaks with one hand, but it seemed the polite thing to do, since our matching gold bands gleamed so brightly we feared they would disturb the other patrons. We kept our left hands in our laps.
The next day, we walked along the beach and I waded out to sit for a moment on an unusual large rock in the surf. He stood facing me as the waves lapped around his calves. Years later he confided that he’d looked at me at that moment and seen a complete stranger.
He said, “I was thinking, “Who IS this girl?” and asked if I could recall that moment.
Oh yes, I remembered.
I was thinking, “What have I done? Who IS this guy?”
Have we figured that out yet? Maybe.
This I know: he is, indeed, my Dearly Beloved.