This post will not be.
In fact, if I get over 90 hits, I shall have officially told more people about my wedding anniversary than actually attended my wedding.
Mate and I moved in together for a year before we got married–and together, we grossed not quite $13,000, and even in the late 80’s, that’s not a lot of money. Our wedding was… well, a community endeavor to say the least.
We held it in the park by my parent’s house, where, about four and a half years prior, my dad and stepmom were married. (They’d lived together for eight years before the wedding– something about not wanting to get married because people thought they should and wanting to prove they were getting married because they wanted to. Which, in my forties, I totally understand.) Because it was June, it was 104 degrees that day, and I was wearing a satin dress with a tulle overlay. I remember almost thug-jumping my stepbrother for his glass of punch.
In fact, Mate and I were the most dressed up people there.
The bridesmaids wore sundresses– we bought them the fabric, they had somebody make them, and the pattern was one of those classic patterns, A-line, ruched straps, full-ish skirt, in a pretty flowered print. I remember that after I had Chicken, my stepmom had enough of that fabric to make her a little baby dress out of the same fabric– she wore it to a bridesmaid’s wedding. The groomsmen wore off-white slacks, an off-white shirt, green suspenders and a green bow tie. I remember that somebody had to tell me I should get my bridesmaids a gift–I think my stepmom picked them out for me and said, “Here–you need to give them these.”
But there was so much we didn’t know.
See, at 21, Mate and I were the first to get married.
I had no idea what people were supposed to do or get or have during weddings. What did I know? My stepmom made dresses for my stepsister and I when she got married. I still have that dress (nobody I know could fit in it now) but it was just such a lovely green brocade fabric, I couldn’t stop touching it. For my parents’ wedding, they had a party in the park– one of their presents was a matched set of live turkeys that we called Thanksgiving and Christmas, because that’s when we ate them.
I remember that a lot of the pre-wedding drama was because I had difficulty balancing work, school, and wedding planning– and cars that broke down and money I didn’t have and an inability to ask my parents for more than they gave us. Mate and I were still a little raw from “If you’re going to move out with him, we’re not paying for school!” and that line of what to ask for and what we needed to bring to the table ourselves is always such a weird one. We wanted to bring it all ourselves, but, well, did I mention we had nothing to bring?
That being said– my stepmom’s friend made the cake (which I took for granted then–I am ashamed of that) and her friend’s husband took the pictures (ditto) and the day before the wedding, I showed up at my parents’ house and worked with my grandparents and relatives–most of whom are no longer with us now– and we all sliced cold cuts and made cheese trays and vegetable trays that we put in the refrigerator and brought to the park in coolers.
The day of the wedding the bridesmaids and I all gathered at my friend’s parent’s house and stressed about getting ready. I remember that I was helping all of them getting ready, and suddenly I was running late. I almost hit a squirrel driving my AMC Pacer from Julie’s house to the park– I drove myself to my own wedding, go figure! My ‘hairstyle’ consisted of wearing it, dry and down on my back–because I never wore my hair down. In all of the pictures, it’s HUGE– just a giant writhing red mass, with a little crown of synthetic flowers. (Oh yes– my friend’s mom did the flowers–synthetic, most of them, although I think my own bouquet was real.) Remember, this was the 80’s, so the whole “virginal white” dress was still a thing, and I was obviously not a virgin, so I went with off white. I figured it was just as well– I look sort of awful in white– ecru was obviously the way to go. But I remember pulling into the parking lot of the park running late, and running into Mate’s aunt and grandmother as I dashed to the trailer where my dress sat.
“I almost hit a squirrel.”
Yeah. I’m more articulate now.
My dad walked me down the aisle, to Mate, who wore his mullet (!!!) back in a ponytail, and who insisted on wearing the full off-white tux with tails. He weighed about 140 lbs– I think there was more tux than boy, but God, he was so pretty.
I was supposed to be the English major, so I picked out poems for us to read. I could not have picked out worse poetry if I’d been five, flipping through my literature book with a crayon– I didn’t know what in the hell any of it meant at that time, how could I? I was an infant. But that’s okay– during the ceremony there was a baja-cut Volkswagen bug that cruised up and down King Rd. about sixty-zillion times– I think they were laughing at us, getting married under the big tree in the corner of the park while their glass-pack muffler rattled through our vows. Fuckers. That’s okay– nobody heard the badly picked poetry and nobody heard my voice shake or saw Mate’s hands, clammily, shakily entwined with mine.
Our sound system was a boom box, and it played Journey’s “Open Arms” as I walked down the aisle and “Faithfully” as we walked back up.
And there we were. The first marriage of our peer group. So many mistakes. So many mistakes. Our honeymoon was a well documented disaster– three cases of food poisoning, two tires replaced at half our spending money, freezing to death on the floor of a two-man tent because the ocean in June isn’t warm. It was all we could afford, but, well, we had more better sex on our own bed when we got home to our shitty apartment. (Although we were lucky the bed was not stolen as, at some point in time, the bedding and our books and the change from our car and our stereo were. It was not a great apartment, oh no it was not.)
But for better or worse (mostly better), richer or poorer (mostly poorer), in sickness and in health (mostly health) we were married.
The two of us completed our education but we never did things the way we were supposed to, and finances are just not our strong point. (As one of my bridesmaids and I recently discussed, I still can’t spend money for shit, but she can strangle a dime.) Our partnership, our house, even our children, are unconventional and special–in fact, sometimes I think the best reason for having children was that we actually have other human beings that speak our language. Seriously–until the past few years, wherein I discovered other writers, I was pretty sure Mate and I were all alone in our madness. I don’t know whether it comforts him as much as it comforts me, but it is a comfort to know that, as we progress what has become a true partnership, that we are not alone. Not just as people in a rather diverse society, but as believers.
Both of us came from divorce–both of us came from two couples that, Goddess as my witness, never should have been in the same room together, much less produced progeny. (Did I mention Mate’s father didn’t make the wedding? His mom said she couldn’t be there if he was there, so he said he was going to be there and then at the last moment sent a ginormous bouquet of flowers instead. I’d never been so angry at two adults in my life.)
But somehow, we still believed in love.
Somehow, through some great years and some really shitty ones, we still believe in love. And children. And doing what makes you happy even if nobody else gets that.
And each other. We believe in each other.
And in simplicity. Our wedding was simple. And for all but one of the last fifteen years, our anniversary has been a thing that happened in, under, around and through the kids’ dance recital, which is a two week, all encompassing event that swallows our lives.
But, you know, it’s the 25th such occasion for us, and although neither of us can believe it’s been that long or that we’re really that old, I thought it was a moment to remark upon.
We were going to plan a party. We swore would. There was going to be dancing and catering and pie, and all of the organization and finery that we didn’t make happen at our wedding. I even looked into booking a planner and a we checked out community centers and had a dance list planned out and…
And life happened.
Because in 25 years, that hasn’t changed– we’re still better at real life than big occasions.
And we’re still better with each other than anyone else in the world.