Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wedding Bliss

By now you may have heard that Matt and I are engaged and getting married. A wave of odd embarrassment flows over me when ever anyone says "Congratulations!" Not because I am not proud and excited about our upcoming nuptials (because I am, truly, very happy) but because I don't know what to say other than "Thank you." The congratulations always makes itself out to be a conversation starter, but really it puts an end to any conversation at all and both myself, my fiance and the congratulatory party are left looking at the ground or the wall or anywhere other than at each other hoping to God some more interesting topic resumes. And, inevitably, everyone feels happy they brought it up, as if it were a duty or chore to be discharged, but now are at a loss as to how to strive forward.

The first question that usually occurs next is "When is the date?" Thankfully I know that this will mean the end of the conversation is soon because, right now, there is no date. And even if there was, there really isn't any rejoinder. "Oh? My parents got married in December. How nice." "June, in San Antonio, it will be hot." "February. A Valentine's Day Wedding?" Then it's over. There is only commentary...and it wains and falls away until we can talk about playwrighting again. If it's not the date it's the engagement itself. "How did he ask?"

"How did he ask?" What a very personal question. After having been subjected to it, I don't think I'll ever ask it again of anyone else. It was an extremely beautiful and intimate moment. It was the culmination of ten years of being together. It had it's ironies, it's comedies, it's little tragedies, it's wonders and it's miracles. I could write a novella about that moment. It was one of the single most beautiful and honest moments in our relationship. It left me feeling faint, and after 10 years, I really wasn't sure if it was possible. Romance. Real, tangible, honest, aching romance.

"He pulled me into our office after a long weekend. We were both tired and had just finished watching "Point Break" and eating pizza. He lit a candle and told me it was the 10th anniversary of our first kiss. I had no idea. He pulled out the ring and 'against the clutter and gloom' (his words) he got down on one knee and asked."

The story doesn't to the moment justice. And, in fact, if you've seen our office it sounds silly and awkward, even though I feel it was anything but. I tell the story and they focus on the first kiss thing and giggle and chordal and then...the pause. Then they ask when we are getting married.

I have been asked a few times what my colors are and that brings up some conversation. I have been asked where and that always leads to the "Why San Antonio?" Conversation. No, it's not really a destination spot for weddings. And, in fact, I think most San Franciscan's hate all the states that reside between California and New York (this includes the central part of California). Most people forget Matt and I are from the Southwest. Or they remember and there is an unfortunate moment when they think they've forgotten some vital part of our family histories and they stutter and stammer and try to answer their own question.

We're getting married in San Antonio because, as much as I love Albuquerque, it doesn't feel like my home town anymore. And most of my family would have to travel in no matter where we got married and we both felt it was unfair to make them pay for hotels in San Francisco. My mother lives in San Antonio, and soon Matt's family will also reside not far from there in Killen Texas. My sister and my brother both spent their high school lives in San Antonio. It's where my brother met his wife and married her. It represents a very happy part of my mother's life. My father, for his part, isn't fond of San Antonio and he has good reason for it. It pains me to hurt him by having the wedding there, but in a phone conversation he said "You should do what you want for your wedding, not what's best for other people." And, truth be told, I want to get married in San Antonio with a licence from San Francisco. This, it seems to me, is what is truest.
This is too much to explain. So, I just say "My mother lives there now and Matt's family is only two hours away." Can you just see me throw the excess over my shoulder and slap my hands clean?

But, it isn't other people I blame, it is myself. How perfectly odd the whole arrangement of a wedding and nuptials and receptions seem now. What a strange country of dresses and cakes and rituals I've traveled into. I've always wanted to come here, I've always imagined I would, but it turns out the distance is further than I thought it was and the people here are strange and they don't speak my language.

I am at a crisis right now in my career. I'm a playwright and for the first time I'm really giving it a go. I've quit my job, applied for unemployment and I'm trying to write. A daily task that seems to need the obstructions of a 9-5 so that one can yearn to sit and type...not endless hours of emptiness stretched out before you like so much empty paper calling out to be filled. What a pickle I've gotten myself into. Just at the moments when I feel least theatrical, I'm being asked to put together the most ancient and theatrical of events.

And to top it all off, I am an atheist. Matt is a Christian, and I support his faith fully. This does cause some problems. Do we get married in a church? Do we get married by an ordained believer? Do we bring God into our vows? I told Matt that I would make my promises to him, my family and friends, and to myself. That was all the higher power I needed. That if I promised to something I didn't believe in then it wouldn't be true. Yes, I celebrate Christmas. I, unlike other Athiests I know, think there are beautiful parts to Christianity. Besides, Christmas hardly has anything to do with Christ anymore. And I love giving gifts. And I love chocolate. And there are some Christmas songs I can't get enough of. And I gave Matt a cross for his birthday one year. Why? Because he believes and his faith gives him strength and guidance. I wanted to celebrate that and show my support for it. I don't even have anything against getting married in a church. It is just a building built for a purpose of community and love and faith. Sounds good to me. It's the God part. The specific higher power and the vows that get me.

And then, there is the last thing...the name.

To Gunnison or not to Gunnison. That is the question.

Who am I?

3 comments:

paulinemaple said...

You'll be happy you put this moment down in words when you and matt are all creaky and wrinkled. Name change is a funny topic. I guess it always surprises me when people DO change their last name in this day and age. I expect the kids' to take Victor's last name, but I have no intention of changing mine...and NO, it doesn't have to match.

anon said...

I don't believe I speak the language in this foreign country, either. I had a classmate, who is also getting married, invite me to a bridal convention or expo or something like that. I asked what that was. She explained it was a big thing with lots of photographers and dresses and cakes and...I said, "No, I don't think I do those."
-emily

Cute Banana said...

I appreciate your insight into the world on the other side of engagement. Because:I always sort of refrain from asking that genre of questions as, frankly (not to detract from those who do truly care) I don't feel the answers will ever lend much substance to the conversation! I'm certain I seem rude or uncaring to some folks when I *don't* ask, but in reality, I just prefer not to cheapen otherwise meaningful discourse. It gladdens me to see some (you) who are being asked feel this same way.
And thanks for recounting the how-he-asked story, it was actually one of the questions I did have for you. I can see by the words you chose that any words you might have chosen could never do it justice, and that hint at the extraordinary conveys beautifully the true meaning of it all :)