I love being able to introduce Amy as "my wife". It's only a word, but it holds a lot of power. Introducing the person you share your life with as "my partner" frequently results in a follow-up question of "Oh, you work together?" Followed by the now necessary explanation that no you don't work together (although we do which is a story for another day) but rather that you live together as life partners. When you introduce the same person as "my wife" you may get some interesting double-takes, and occasionally lengthy pauses while the person on the other side of the conversation processes the information and realigns their world view, but there is recognition and understanding. The word wife fits into a classification category in our society and brings common understanding.
Amy and I celebrated our third anniversary yesterday. Well actually we didn't so much celebrate as acknowledge that it was in fact our third anniversary. Why, you may ask, was this not an occasion for great rejoicing and leather (the traditional third anniversary gift)? This is one of three anniversaries we have. Yes, three.
Anniversary number one is the date we have celebrated for 24 years. It's in February and is the important anniversary.
Anniversary number two is the legal wedding date, yesterday. It's the day when we gathered with a couple of friends, my aunt and a justice-of-the-peace in our living room to make it legal.
Anniversary number three is the date of our "re-wedding" in October. That's the day when our friends and family gathered to celebrate our wedding. Vows, flowers, photographer (If you're in the greater Boston area and need a really good wedding photographer let me know and I'll pass on her contact info.), cake, and a bar tender who was only too happy to keep one ear on the first game of the 2004 World Series and relay the scores to the friends and family who gave up the opportunity to spend the night screaming at the tv to be with us. We do have one friend who had to leave early to get back to her job in the Red Sox ticket office (thanks Sarah!).
The legal wedding happened because I panicked. There is an image burned into my memory from the coverage of San Francisco's foray into issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It is of a slightly older woman standing in the hall after being informed that the state had stepped in to halt the issuing of licenses. She looks devasted, but rather than the string of profanities which might have issued from my mouth, all she is saying is "Oh darn, .. darn, darn, darn." I didn't want to be that woman, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to be Amy's wife.
Amy would have been happy to wait. She didn't feel the same urgency that I did. But she does love me. So we found a JP, called two of our closest friends, called my parents (who wanted to be there but couldn't rearrange previous obligations, and my aunt. The day before the wedding we prepared the entree for the wedding feast (greek meatballs), made cupcakes, and made sure the living room was presentable. Tuesday, June 8th rolled around and we headed to work. Yup, that's right we worked the day of our wedding. We left work early. We'd planned what to wear, but a sudden heat wave, 98º that day, changed those plans. But we did dress up.
We didn't have bouquets but we did have flowers. Amy had picked out some - to make sure we had flowers at our wedding. My parents sent a gorgeous bouquet of cream colored roses. Our friend Karen brought red roses, and my aunt bought a beautifully colorful mixed bouquet.
Karen was the first to arrive and we put her to work as photographer. We took a couple of pictures of the two of us using the neighbors yard as backdrop. She also took pictures throughout the ceremony and during the celebration afterwards.
Our friend Katy, not to be confused with my aunt Katie, brought her children R and A. Katy and R were dressed for the weather in simple dresses. A, however, had insisted on wearing his tuxedo complete with bow tie and cummerbund. (We'd even gotten email earlier in the week asking which bowtie he should wear - we chose the purple one.) I thought the poor kid was going to melt. He stayed in full regalia until we started dinner.
The ceremony was uneventful. There was some levity when Karen made us kiss a second time because she'd missed the first. It was sort of surreal to be saying those words. It didn't sink in until later that it was real.
We popped open a bottle of champagne, took some more pictures - including one that R took for our college alumnae magazine (all of the adults except the JP went to the same college), and had a great dinner. The next day we went to work. We hadn't told anyone there that we were getting married, but word got out and we received lots of warm wishes. We sent out announcements. And then life went on much as it had.
Being married hasn't changed the day-to-day of our life, although it has complicated our taxes (The feds don't recognize the marriage. The state return uses numbers from the federal return. We have to file state as married and federal as single. So we complete three federal returns - two (one each) to mail along with a letter explaining why we are submitting a return that says we're single when we're married and one to get the numbers for the state return.) What being married has done is given us a great sense of security. We have a license that gives us legal status in each other's lives. We don't have to rely on luck and geography to live our lives.
So we didn't celebrate our anniversary yesterday. But we celebrate being married everyday.
And finally, one more anniversary to make note of. Today is my parent's 51st anniversary. Their idea of celebration - watching the Yankee's win and babysitting my nephew so his parents can go to tomorrow's Yankees game.