So, I've been a rather busy sort for the past few months, as some of you might know. The level of busy-ness began to reach a fever pitch until this past Saturday. It was on that day, under the most beautiful, sunny skies, where Mayhem Acres was transformed into a beautiful garden park, in the company of our most beloved friends and family, accompanied by beautiful music, where Jeff and I literally tied the knot in marriage. Yes, after fourteen years together, through good times and bad, sickness and health, comedy and tragedy, mellow and mayhem, you name it, we did it. We wanted this day to come for the longest time, as hints of civil unions and then legal gay marriage began to show in the US, but rather than go off to some other state (or country, for that matter), we were holding onto hope that the state of Maryland would one day allow same-sex marriage. On November 6th, 2012, MD voters were to vote on a statewide referendum that would allow same-sex marriage to become the law of our little, merry land. Jeff and I stayed awake after doing our civic duties with our eyes glued to the television as the votes were tallied. At about 2am, it had become clear that Maryland had become the first state to legalize SSM through the popular vote and marking the turning point in the fight for marriage equality. It was at that point, with tears in our eyes that we decided to get married ourselves. Our little hopes and dreams blossomed that night, and they slowly began to take shape.
Fast forward about a year or so. We began doing work on the house and yard that had been long neglected because of my ongoing health issues. While we made progress, we ran into roadblocks. Some were serious, like me reinjuring my back even worse than before, and Jeff's parents' house fire. I managed to get back into the grind, albeit very limited, but we kept on doing things. Jeff had nailed down a date that was compatible with work, the weather and the potential for having as many friends and family to join us. Jeff, party planner he is, pulled some strings with a caterer, found a nice florist, we contacted our little, local, gay-owned bakery about the cake, set up rentals for a large tent and tables & chairs. By the middle of spring I had recovered enough to feel like I was actually adding to the process, and in the last couple months, I've been knocking myself out. In June alone I did the most I could with the house and yard. The carport, the driveways, and even the concrete work area in front of the Garage of Mayhem became clean enough to eat off of by the waving of my magic (4000psi pressure washer) wand. I wanted to replace the terrible looking old entry door for years, but with my physical condition being what it was, I kept putting it off. When I tried to order the new door assembly, the lead time was too long by now. At the last minute I threw on a coat of paint and made it look beautiful once again, just in time. Our little wedding had gotten more bells and whistles added on in the last month or so. A DJ. A dance floor. More and more flowers and landscaping. A cellist. Music, music, music. Lighting. More tents. We added so many unique and cool ideas, often from suggestions from our friends. Jeff began to panic wondering if things would work out. Some snags were hit, but most if not all of them came with silver linings that only added to the day. Once Friday afternoon rolled around, and friends began coming in from out of state, our preparations were solidified, anything else that was missed would have no more consideration. It was, as they say, showtime.
I've been to a few weddings in my time, as has Jeff. We didn't want your "typical" ceremony. There was to be no "gods" involved. This was to be a very personal event, one that involved everyone attending. I mentioned in the beginning of this entry about tying the knot. Like so many over-used expressions, this comes from an ancient Irish or Celtic rite also practiced in Great Britain, and has recently gained a bit of a modernized revival as a Wiccan or Neo-Pagan custom. We tweaked it a bit more to make it work within our special day. As happy and uplifting as we wanted our little ceremony to be, there was an unavoidable, deep feeling of sadness about the otherwise happy day. My Mom is no longer here to experience a day she had given up hope early on to witness. Jeff's mum is currently in the ever-increasing grip of Alzheimer's and is just about immobile in a nursing home, unable to see the last one of her children married. As it turns out, both of our mothers had a special love of butterflies. So, to honor our Moms during our wedding day, we incorporated butterflies. Rather than a cake topper with two grooms, a pair of butterflies representing both our love as well as the spirits of our mothers sat proudly on top of our cake. The cake itself was decorated to describe us through our interests and hobbies. The bottom-most layer illustrated the things we each love that aren't common to one another. Me with the cars, tools, electronics, Jeff with sports, cooking and culinary arts. The second layer is something we have in common, yet still different. Music, with Jeff being country at heart, and me being the rocker (and being so before the smarmy Osmonds sung that song). The top layer depicted our love of camping and the beach. Our good friend Doug Poplin honored us during the ceremony by playing cello. I had ordered a "handfasting cord" to be used during the ceremony. We hit a big snag when the supplier of the cord failed to ship the thing and refused to send another. When we talked to our good friend Tim Snider, who was to perform our wedding, of our dilemma, he said other items could be used in place of the cord, including a scarf. I still have some of Mom's belongings, so I took out the drawer that still held her beautiful scarves. After pulling out a couple scarves, we found the one she had which depicted several colorful butterflies along with their scientific names. We had found our perfect solution. At the bottom of the drawer was a booklet showing various ways of wearing scarves. The booklet was titled Tying the Knot
. It was almost as if we were being told something.
Our good friend Jim Martin has suggested on a whim that we should release live butterflies during the ceremony at the moment we have been declared married. As with so many other aspects added in, a box of butterflies, a pair of Monarchs for us and Painted Ladies for the rest of the attendees was ordered all the way from California. Each butterfly was contained in a personalized triangular box. These were passed out to everyone during the ceremony. The handfasting, originally meant to be done "a year and a day" prior to actual marriage, was instead modified as a "seal" instead. Doug played an old Celtic piece on the cello at that time. His emotional playing and deft touch made the cello sound as if it was breathing. The music was alive. It had become time to say our vows. Jeff had written his down beforehand. I, being the professional crastinator of epic proportions, never got around to it. I ad-libbed on the spot from my heart, trying to keep myself together. The rings were given to Tim, we placed them on each others' fingers. We were married! I had one more task, as well as a surprise. I directed our friends and family to open the boxes along with Jeff and I to release the butterflies as I told of the significance of this action. Upon release, the butterflies whirled and spun among everyone. Along with the flash of color and motion was an unmistakeable feeling of energy or presence. I stumbled in my words a bit as everyone quietly gasped. Jeff's butterfly stopped right above his head, landing on one of the flowers attached to the gazebo for a bit of nectar before flitting off with the others. I regained my composure enough to finish with the unscripted surprise. I produced an additional pair of rings, attached to gold chains. These were my mother and father's rings. My Mom, during her last days, had asked me if I was going to marry Jeff. I told her that we probably would marry (if he didn't get fed up with me beforehand) if it were to ever become official. She wanted me to use those rings. Well, Mom was always a petite woman, and dad was pretty damn scrawny, so the rings would barely fit our pinky fingers. To carry her wish into our day, we put the rings, on chains, around our necks as our last action. We were now a married couple, with all the benefits granted thereto, with many wished fulfilled.
Now, I am an extremely emotional old sot. I cry at movies, listening to music, and, of course, at weddings. My biggest fear was that I would become a blubbering, incoherent mess for most of the day. Today was so different though. There was so much love, support and surprises through the day. I did lose it when I saw folks I consider to be my adopted family show up after many years and even decades apart. Same with other friends who came to our big day. But I surprised myself. Somehow, probably buoyed by the love, support and help everyone had given me, I kept myself together and enjoyed everything that was happening to the fullest. I did let myself go a few times, when it really mattered. It was wonderful too.
We did lots of planning. Did a ton of work. We hit snags, often at the worst possible time. But somehow, everything fell into place. Perfectly! I was awestruck and dumbstruck at so many beautiful and incredible moments. People began telling us our wedding ceremony was the most beautiful and touching they have ever seen, including their own. I have endured so much in the way of bad things in my life. I have lamented on countless occasions that my seemingly bad luck timed to coincide just when things might be looking up had made me unable to enjoy myself. If I were to experience happiness, for sure I would have something terrible happen. For one very special day, however, I experienced the happiest day of my life. Well, my luck being what it is, Jeff had picked our big day many months in advance. It took me a while to realized it, when it was too late to change it. Our wedding day was to happen the day before the eighth anniversary of my Mom's death. But here instead, my luck was symbolic. Yes, I had my sad moments on that Sunday after. But if ever I had a feeling that Mom was with me, it was on that day. In the smiles of friends we both knew for so many years. In the notes of beautiful music. In the seemingly impossible way that everything turned out perfectly. In all of the flowers, landscape, perfect weather, blue skies and beautiful, warm sunshine. And in the beats of a hundred butterfly wings.
Nothing can ever top this amazing, wonderful day.
Thank you to all my LJ friends too. You've been with me through thick and thin. I have hundreds of photos and thousands of megabytes to process. I hope I can share more of my big day with you soon. Much love.