Thursday, February 14, 2013

Smartest Thing I Ever Did

When I mention that my anniversary is on February 14, people often give me the "Awh... that's so romantic!" so I usually feel compelled to tell the story of how it happened that on Valentine's Day in 2008, I stood in a tiny office in the law school library in Portland, Maine and married my husband. I tell them I am not, in fact "romantic."  I tell them it was actually spur of the moment-- well, spur of the week-- as we had to get the license a couple of days in advance. 

We had been living together for six years by then, and already had one child. I was eight and a half months pregnant with our younger daughter. And then a string of events led us to decide to just, you know, get it over with.  Julie, a dear friend who was a Justice of the Peace as well as a law librarian, said she would marry us whenever we wanted once we got the license.  That meant a trip downtown, to City Hall.  it was February 12.
Portland City Hall, slippery staircase
We took our eighteen-month-old daughter, Delia, and her double wheeled stroller, downtown and pushed our way through the grey slush that builds up outside City Hall off of Congress Street.  The elevator in the lobby was out of order, so we carried the stroller, with Delia in it, up the marble staircase to the City Clerk's Office, Vital Records Department. While there, we could have also registered a small business, gotten a hunting license or paid the fine for a parking ticket.  We each filled out a form and stepped up to the desk, where the nice lady behind the counter eyed my big belly and the baby eating goldfish in the stroller.  Then she typed the license on an official form, told us it was valid for the next 90 days, and dryly wished us the best of luck.  The discovery of a working service elevator, which spared us schlepping the stroller back down the slippery stairs, seemed to bode well for the next phase of life as a couple.  I took it as a good omen, because I am always looking out for that sort of thing, even though I am no more superstitious than I am romantic. 

The next day, Mike called me at work.  "How about tomorrow? Julie can marry us at her lunch hour."  "Tomorrow is Valentine's Day."  "It is? Okay, that way I'll always remember our anniversary."   My husband is so very practical.  I thought it was just too corny, but given our weird, multi-job, school based schedules, it turned out to be the only day that week we were both free when Julie was free.  I was due in two weeks, and then everything would be up in the air.  So we got married the next day, even though it was Valentine's. 

Maine Law School building. 
We got married in Julie's office on the third (or was it fourth?) floor in the silo shaped part of the building.

Both Mike and I worked in the library while we went to school there, so word had gotten around that we were getting married at lunch time. Maine Law is a small school, with fewer than a hundred people in each year, so it had been easy to get to know everyone.  The crowd in Julie's office spilled out into the hallway, even though there couldn't have been more than a dozen people. I was busy trying to corral Delia so that she would stand a little bit still while Julie performed the short ceremony.  We were pronounced man and wife in under ten minutes.  There were tears, even in the eyes of people out in the hall. 

Someone brought cupcakes with flowers on them from the Hannaford's down the street and someone else brought a bottle of sparkling cider. There were cups and plates from the break room.  Of course I remember what I wore-- brown maternity cords, a white tee, and the only cardigan that still fit me, pale pink with tiny beads at the neckline-- almost exactly what I wore every other day of that last month of pregnancy. I think Mike wore a blue sweater.  I remember going to my Secured Transactions lecture that afternoon with a gigantic smile on my face.  I was late, so I tried to slip in at the back, but the class turned and applauded.   Then the lecture resumed, because, after all, it was law school.  I remember being really happy.  And a little tired-- even good excitement is tiring when you are two weeks away from your due date.  I had to borrow notes from class, because somehow, even though I'm not romantic, not much of the lecture made it into my lawfully wedded brain.   Most of what I remember today about Secured Transactions, is that it was the class I went to right after I got married. 
I graduated law school that May.  For a girl who had always thought more about her cap and gown than her wedding gown, that was kind of a big deal.  Mike walked at the back, bouncing the three month old Fiona, who cried during the commencement speeches.  Delia sat in her stroller.

Delia's in first grade now, and Fiona is signed up for kindergarten this fall.  I still feel happy, and just a little tired, when I think about the day we got married.  A lot has happened in the last five years, and even though we can't say with straight faces that we love every day of our life together, we love being together every day.  And I certainly wouldn't want to do this life with anyone else.  Maybe our daughters will have big weddings. (Maybe we'll win the lottery to afford it.)  I certainly wish them all the pageantry, if  that if it is what they want.   But what I know about weddings is that, no matter how romantic or fantastic or just plain convenient the day may be, they don't ever matter more than life together every day.  

So what I really wish for our children and the relationships that they commit to, is the feeling I have about our marriage, today and every day:  smartest thing I ever did. 

Happy Anniversary to us!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations mom, on all you've accomplished, you should be very proud, I am!