Category Archives: marriage

a dweam within a dweam

I admit that I have some mixed feelings on marriage. Having seen some marriages that were less than ideal, I grew up thinking that I probably wouldn’t get married. Marriage wasn’t really a goal of mine. I’m a firm believer that a person can be happy and whole without being married.

When I first met John, I certainly didn’t entertain ideas of marrying him. It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, we were each dating other people when we met. (If you must know, I was dating his roommate.)

But I think I can pinpoint the moment I fell for John. It was over a year after I first met him, and some time after both of our earlier relationships had ended. The moment I fell for John was was, remarkably, right after I fell on my butt.

It was the winter break of my Junior year of college, late December. I had just returned to the US from a semester abroad in Brazil. I went over to my by-that-point-ex-boyfriend’s house to catch up. John was still one of his housemates, and hearing that he was home, I went up to his room say hello. His door was open, and I poked my head in to say hi. Then I glanced at the papers he had taped up on his door, a long vertical banner of dot-matrix printouts. (Did I mention this was 1991?) First was a set of Dan Quayle quotes. Below that was a bunch of quotes taken from insurance claims. I started reading. I snickered. I laughed some more. I read some more. I bent down to read the pages lower down on the door, eventually squatting to read those at knee-level. I read: “I saw a slow-moving, sad-faced old gentleman as he bounced off the hood of my car.” I tried to read it out loud, but was laughing so hard I couldn’t. I laughed so hard I lost my balance, squatting there on my heels. I fell right onto my butt.

You might think that this would be somewhat of an embarrassing turn of events for a reunion with an acquaintance. And perhaps it would have been, except that John, seeing me laughing so hard at things that he had found funny enough to print out and hang on his door, was laughing along with me. And while he may well have been laughing at me for falling on my ass in his doorway, I didn’t mind. I was laughing too hard. And when our eyes met, both of us laughing at the quotes and my clumsiness, I’m pretty sure that was the moment that I knew I had found someone I wanted to know better.

We didn’t get married that night. But we did start seeing more of each other. Then we moved in together. Got engaged. Bought a house. We made some attempts to plan a wedding, but were foiled by various scheduling conflicts with key family members.

We ended up getting married by a Justice of the Peace eight years into our relationship, and shortly before I planned to quit my job. (Die-hard romantic that I was, I wanted to have health insurance.) We’d had a long engagement, and what with living together and owning a house together, even, I felt that we were largely as committed as we needed to be. What with my luke-warm views on the institution of marriage, I didn’t see how being married would change our relationship. I remember commenting to an acquaintance, a married woman a few years older than me, something to that effect. She replied: “Marriage does change things. It gets better.”

I have to say that she was right. It was a subtle shift, but having our commitment be officially recognized made things a bit more settled, and a bit more comfortable. And when we had our party (several years later), the wedding ceremony to celebrate our marriage surrounded by our friends and family, it got even better.

Sometimes, when you are lucky enough to find someone who shares your sense of humor and your worldview, someone you love passionately and who loves you right back, someone who lets you feel at home with yourself, that conventionalized connection marriage gives you makes you feel just a little bit more together and a little bit more at home. It’s a declaration to the world that you know who’s going to be there to help you up when you fall on your butt.

This post is dedicated to Flutter, a remarkably strong, strikingly beautiful woman with a great sense of humor, to share in her joy at getting married. Flutter, I wish you and Clay many happy years full of love, health, comfort and humor. May you laugh your asses off together with abandon. (Emily has invited those who know Flutter to join in on the celebration. To see more of the well-wishing, go see her post “Mawigge is what brings us together today.”)

This post is also dedicated to John, love of my life, who has been there for me, on more occasions than I can count, when I have fallen on my butt (either literally or figuratively) over these past 20+ years.

celebrating 5+ years of marriage in Massachusetts

ring_exchangeFive years ago today, John and I stood before a room full of our friends and family to express our commitment to each other, exchange rings, and celebrate our love.

We didn’t get married that day, though. This was a day of ceremony and festivities to supplement our rather unceremonious entry into the state of legal marriage almost 5 years earlier.

The reasons for our 1999 wedding-that-wasn’t-quite-a-wedding are a story for another day, and one that I have briefly told before.

While we had planned to have the wedding ceremony soon after the legal marriage, it wasn’t until 2004 that the pieces finally fell together. Meanwhile, in May of 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legally recognize same-sex marriage. We were very pleased with this news, and I feel real pride in my adoptive state about this issue.

John and I are not exactly religious. (This may actually be an understatement.) As such, we don’t belong to any church or other religious organization. However, as religion is an important part of the lives of many people who are important in our lives, I wanted to have our wedding be at least spiritual, if not overly religious.

When it came time to pick an officiant for our own wedding ceremony, I also wanted to find a person who supported marriage equality.

I remember driving past Unitarian Universalist churches displaying rainbow flags and messages supporting same-sex partners. Living in rural Massachusetts, in an area where churches and even some homes will sometimes display sayings of hellfire and damnation, it made me smile to see the progressive messages so boldly and proudly displayed.

Not only did the UU church support marriage equality, but members of the Unitarian Universalist church fought actively to bring about the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

Choosing a minister from a Unitarian Universalist congregation seemed a clear choice, and it was one that I was very happy with.

Our wedding ceremony added something to our relationship. To have a joyous celebration that we shared with our friends and family, a public acknowledgement of our commitment, was a rite that I appreciated in ways that are hard for me to pinpoint. Our legal marriage, on the other hand, added things to our relationship that are easy to identify. The possibility of being able to share a health insurance policy, for a start. Plus many other rights and benefits:

There are over 1,400 rights that come from being legally married in the eyes of the government. (source)

I am happy to be married, both for the symbolic union with the partner that I love, and for the benefits that this union affords us.

I am also happy to live in a place where couples are not denied the right to marriage based on their gender.

                    777px-Gay_flag White Knot

happy third second wedding anniversary

alejna_john_wedding_135.jpg Today is a happy day. It’s the anniversary of our wedding. Our second one. Wedding, that is. Not the second anniversary. It’s actually our third anniversay. Of our second wedding. (We celebrated the seventh anniversary of our first wedding back in December.)

I was glad we managed to have a fall wedding. (For the second wedding, that is.) I love the fall. I love crisp smell in the air when the days turn chilly. I love the way the angle of the afternoon sun makes the trees glow with their reds and yellows and oranges. I love the riot of colors, and the way the scene changes from day to day. I love to find fallen leaves in all their varied colors and shapes.

I had a beautiful drive on Monday, when I went to and from the farm to pick up my vegetables. I take some winding country roads, and go past quite a few farms. Over and over again I was struck by the scenery. An old tree-lined cemetery on a hill. An antique Colonial house, painted white with traditional black shutters, surrounded by towering maples of red and yellow. Red barns. White rail fences. Cows in the pastures. I drove past postcard scene after postcard scene.

I zipped along in my little car, heading towards home. I was singing along to music I like, with a trunk full of fresh vegetables. My eyes were feasting on the scenes around me. And I thought about how happy I am with my life.

I have so much, and so much going on. I get paid to do work that I love, and I work with pleasant, intelligent and fun individuals. I have a wide range of interests and activities, and the resources and health to enjoy them. I have a loving mother and sister, who are both also my good friends. I have a great family, and wonderful in-laws that have really made me feel like I’m part of the family. I have lots of good friends, some nearby, some far away, but each of whom adds something unique to my life. I have a comfortable home in a beautiful location. I have a healthy, wonderful, smoochable baby girl. And as if that weren’t enough, I’m married to the love of my life and my closest friend.

I am so very lucky it embarrasses me sometimes. How did I get so damn lucky?

A Message from the Ministry of Pants

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you the following important message: Pants are everywhere. We bring you this pair of pants images:

changed-my-life.jpg

big_win_for_pants.jpg

John and I saw these pants window banners at the mall a couple of weeks ago at Banana Republic. Neither of us had our cameras with us. I’ve been meaning to get back there to take a picture before they pull down their pants. But I haven’t had time. Yesterday, John, love of my life, heart of my heart, stopped by the mall again on his way to a meeting. Just so he could get me these pants.

opportunities

Phoebe got a cool toy as a gift for Christmas. (Actually, she got lots of cool toys, but I’ll spare you the details. For now, at least.) The toy I’m talking about is actually more of a set of toys: it’s the Fisher-Price airplane with Little People.

plane_people.jpg

The set came with 3 people: the pilot and 2 passengers. You have no idea how thrilled I was to see that the pilot is a woman. How cool is that? I mean, seriously. The small step of representing a woman as a pilot in a miniature toy represents a giant symbol: a woman is shown matter-of-factly in a prestigious and traditionally male-dominated pilot.jpg job, and this mass-produced representation is being sold as part of a mainstream popular toy. This is huge. (I once wanted to be a pilot, by the way, but that is a story for another day.)

So there we were, Christmas morning, looking at Phoebe’s new toys (once we finished wrestling to free the toys from their elaborate packaging). And I saw the pilot, and felt my thrill. And when I looked at the other two little people figures, I said to John “hey, the passengers are women, too. They must be a newlywed lesbian couple heading off for a tropical honeymoon.” I was joking when I said it, but honeymoon was what came to mind when I saw the two passengers all decked out in their Polynesian-inspired garb. I live in Massachusetts, one of only a few US states to have legally recognized same-sex unions, and apparently the only US state to recognized such unions as marriage. (By the way, when working on my wedding anniversary post, I discovered that the definition of marriage was under dispute on Wikipedia. That in itself tells quite a story. But I see now that the flags announcing the dispute have been taken down. I’d be curious what the changes made were…I found one older version in Google cache but haven’t had a chance to look.)

So here’s the thing. I’d like Phoebe to grow up accepting diversity in people: diversity in ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Ideally, she would get to know people of such diverse backgrounds and beliefs in person. And hopefully she will. But the reality is that we live in fairly rural Massachusetts. In a town where there is not a whole lot of diversity. It struck me that toys and playing games offer opportunities to supplement the exposure to diversity she might get through school and the media. We don’t actually particularly know any married same-sex couples. But we can matter-of-factly say that pat.jpgthe two women figures in the play set are married. Just as the set matter-of-factly depicts a pilot who is a woman.

Of course, John now has me half-convinced that one of the passengers in the set is actually supposed to be male. I still think of her as female. Just possibly a less girly female than the long-haired lei-wearing obviously female passenger. She, who is wearing shorts and purple sandals, and has a moderately short haircut, is at the very least of somewhat ambiguous gender. We have agreed to call her Pat. Just Post Jan 2007

You think you know someone…

As I mentioned recently, John and I have been together for quite a while. Over 15 years, to be specific. So you’d think I’d know John pretty well. But he does find ways to surprise me.

John has a background in math and computer science. He’s been working in the computer industry since before we met, and in the years since I’ve known him, has become an expert in his subfield of the industry. John also is a technophile. He likes the cool toys, and has a weakness for electronics. So when John bought his first impressive digital camera, it didn’t surprise me. And when John started learning the ropes of photography technique and digital image processing, that didn’t surprise me, either. What did surprise me is that over the last couple of years, John has been taking some really beautiful photos. I didn’t know I’d married an artist.

Anyhow, I’m happy to say that John has started posting some of his photos on his blog. Three posts so far. Hopefully more to come.

I’ve been thinking that one of my new resolutions in the realm of blogging, once I get around to acknowledging the new year and writing them, should be to post more pictures on my blog. So I’ll take this opportunity to post some pictures. Below is one of John’s, of an abandoned mill in the town next to ours.

millshackfront.jpg

The lines of the structure actually reminded me a bit of a Shinto shrine. The vertical supports of the wall and the slightly curving horizontal edge of the roof suggest the shape of a gate to me. I was particularly reminded of a picture I took of a street-corner shrine I came across in Nara, Japan when I was there for a conference in 2004. Here’s a photo of it.

shrine1

And here’s another one, showing a bit more of the street.

shrine2

anniversary present, anniversaries past

Today is John’s and my 7th wedding anniversary. A couple of months ago, on October 24th, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary. Let me explain. John and I have been married twice. To each other.

John and I started dating (or whatever you want to call it) on New Year’s of 1992. We got engaged on December 31st (New Year’s Eve) of 1993. Then for several years, we talked about planning the wedding, but each time we started the plans, there was some sort of obstacle. Work schedules were hectic. Money was tight. Crucial family members were planning to be away on long trips. We once got as far as picking a date, only to find that John’s niece had just announced her own wedding the same weekend across the country. We didn’t want to compete for family members to attend, so we opted not to schedule for that date. For several years, when someone would ask when we were ever going to get married, we’d say, more or less jokingly, “some time before the year 2000.” We weren’t really in a hurry to get married.

At the end of 1999, I was planning to quit my job soon to have a bit of time off before starting grad school. Which meant, among other things, I’d be losing my health insurance benefits. We’d talked about maybe having a civil ceremony, in part so that I could get on John’s health insurance plan, and then later schedule the party wedding where we’d be able to include family and friends. But we hadn’t acted on this plan. Then the last week of December, we decided to make good on our threat to get married before the year 2000. We thought we’d wait till the last possible day to squeak in our wedding before 2000. (Which also coincided with the anniversary of our engagement.) We found a Justice of the Peace in a nearby town who was available to marry us in her home on December 31st. We applied for our marriage license in our Town Hall, and duly went for our blood tests. And so the morning of December 31, 1999, John and I were married. The only ones there were John, myself, and the Justice of the Peace. In her living room. No other witnesses. (Massachusetts doesn’t require them.)

We told close family members, but the plan was to schedule the more ceremonial wedding before we made a wide announcement. We expected to do this within the year. But. Time passed. As it is wont to do. In fact, several years passed. And we more or less casually told people about our marriage along the way. People pretty much no longer expected us to have the “big” wedding. But I was determined. I wanted my party. A ceremony. Food. Music. And I wanted to have our loved ones with us to share in our celebration.

So, on October 24th, 2004, John and I got married again. This time with our friends and family with us.

This past October 24th was, therefore, our second wedding anniversary. It was both the anniversary of our second wedding, and the second anniversary of that wedding. (A nice little example of syntactic ambiguity where both parses apply…)

second wedding anniversary tree