I remember as a kid — a not-yet-out-but-knowing-I-was-different kid — telling my mother that I would never get married, but I would have a maid to take care of my kids.
How things change; as I remember that story, I think it was my first shot at coming out — as a six-year-old, I think — because, even then, I never thought I could get married, would be allowed to get married, but I always thought I could have children, if that’s what I wanted.
Years later, years later, after meeting Carlos, falling in love with Carlos, and moving three-thousand miles to be with Carlos, I still never thought I could get married, and, while I like children — deep-fried with a side of ranch dressing … I kid — I knew I didn’t really want children.
And now, fourteen year s after that, I realized I could get married — perhaps not in South Carolina, yet — and that I would get married. We both wanted to do it, and we planned it a couple of times, but it never seemed to work out; things happen, life happens.
I wanted to get married on our anniversary, October 17, because, and he’ll hate me for saying it and then he’ll quickly forget I said it at all, Carlos is bad with dates; I figured the last thing he needed was another “us” date to recall.
So this year, this past summer actually, we decided to go for it. We’d planned a trip to New York City — one of our favorite spots where equality has landed — and planned a week of sights and shows and drinks and just plain fun. I called my father and told him the good news; he said he was so happy for us but that he wouldn’t, couldn’t come, because he doesn’t 'do' big cities. I thought, Oh that’s okay, Dad and let it go, but every time we talked about it, he’d always say that same thing.
And then it hit me: I’m an idiot.
My father was saying how much he wanted to see Carlos and I marry; he’d seen my brother get married, he walked my sister down the aisle, and he wanted to see Carlos and I marry as well.
New York was out, and Bellingham, Washington was in.
The only difference was that in Washington we’d have a three-day waiting period from getting the license to the actual I do’s rather than the twenty-four-hour waiting period in New York. But, it meant that much to my Dad, and it meant that much to me to have him there for this big life event, so it was worth it.
So, Washington there we went; up to Sumas, in fact, a literal hop and skip — no jump because it’s that close — to the Canadian border. Dad’s house is about thirty minutes from Bellingham — a smallish beautiful city along Bellingham Bay — and that’s where we went last Monday to fill out the marriage license.
One hiccup? I’d forgotten Monday was Columbus Day and, as I tend to do, I was freaking out that, if the government buildings were closed, we might miss our three day window to get married on the 17th and since we were leaving on the 18th to come home, we might completely miss this chance.
Damn that Columbus and his bad sense of direction; had he made it to India, we wouldn’t be taking a day off in America!
Luckily, though, for whatever reason, all government buildings were open, and off we went for the license; the first step and it was a snap. Sign here, show an ID, and hand over some cash; bing bang boom, done.
Then it was off to lunch with my Dad and while driving we wondered about the three-day waiting period. I told Carlos it gave people a chance to make sure this was what they wanted to do and he replied,
Yeah, three days! Because fourteen years isn’t long enough.
I almost drove off the road.
But the wait was on; we spent time with my Dad; we spent time touring the area; we spent time making sure we had the rings, the jackets, the kilt, the shoes, the address, the judge’s name. I guess we did need to three days.
By Friday we were ready and anxious to get this thing done. Since the only person we know in Washington is my Dad, and we needed two witnesses, my father asked a friend of his to join us. I’d met Casey before, and liked her, and, well, witness this already! Casey brought along her boyfriend Tyler, so we ended up with a spare, you know just in case.
At four-thirty we ran into the Bellingham Courthouse — through security … do I really need to take my belt off — and upstairs to where Judge Henley was waiting for us. Then it was short trek down the hall to an open courtroom, followed by a few instructions, a quick chat …
Judge Henley said the ceremony calls for the use of the words ‘spouse’ or the use of the words ‘husband’ and asked what we wanted to do. Carlos and I said, in unison, Husbands!
Anyone can have a spouse, we wanted a husband.
I don’t remember too much about the actual ceremony, really. I remember giggling a little and giving Carlos a side-eye during the richer-poorer part because I thought he’d say, Hmm, poorer? Maybe not so much.
And I remember getting teary-eyed listening to him repeat his vows because Carlos can be very serious and he rarely gets weepy; but he stumbled over some words, and his voice cracked, and my eyes watered, but we made it through.
A quick exchange of rings — again, that’s them up there on top — and it was kiss the groom.
Kiss.The.Groom. Who knew? Bing bang boom, married.
Afterwards, my father took the wedding gang out for dinner at a great restaurant along the bay, where we could watch the sunset over the marina, and drink a little and laugh a lot, and just let it all sink in. My father, some new friends, and my new husband.
It was all so simple, really, and yet such a long time coming; from the days when that little kid never thought he could get married to last week when a much older kid realized he could, and would, and did.
Fourteen years down, the rest of our lives to go.