Here we are…It’s that nostalgic end of the year wrap when you can’t help but look back and see how the year in the rear view measured up. This is not some collective 2022 in review, I’ll leave that to those with a broader understanding of what’s what in the bigger picture. This is just me glancing around my tiny little corner of this great big world, and in my minds eye I see flashes of a highlight reel of what stands out for better or worse. Speaking of “for better or worse”….About that thing I did…
It’s not the first time I did this thing, but it’s the first time I feel like I knew what I was doing when I did it. I said “I do” and this time I really really meant I will. I do and I will for the good days, I do and I will for the less than good days. Not that I didn’t mean the other I do’s when I did, I just didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing and in one case, who I was doing it with.
I’ve wanted to write about these magical nuptials and capture every fairytale feeling on a page, however as the paragraph above reveals I find it difficult to think of this most recent legally recognized union without recalling the two previous. That’s right- this one makes three and if one more person says “third time’s the charm”, I’ll finally get around to writing that book just to throw it at them.
Anyway, my whole life’s been charmed in a sense. How can that be you say when I’ve written such horrific tales of abuse and abandonment?! Easy …I’ve survived 100% of every bad thing that’s happened to me and so has the little coven I birthed. We’ve taken our fair share of brutal life sized beat downs but here we stand. Together ~ reveling in the happy moments, carrying one another through the challenging ones, and with the ability to consistently move forward. Sounds pretty charmed to me in what can, for many, be a cruel ugly world all too often. I feel as though I may have written these almost exact words before. Well, they bear repeating.
So about that first wedding – oh my sweet, handsome, looking like a young Brad Pitt, of a boy first husband. A million apologies to him for all the times I drove us off of cliffs during our stretch on the road of life, buuuut in all fairness, he willingly came along for the ride. I suppose what we had was the classic “married too young” scenario. We were so pretty and we liked other pretty people. We were caught somewhere between those youthful wild streaks and a desire to look like our idea of a classic family. We checked off those grown up boxes right down to babies, bills, working too much, and feeling stuck. By the end, for as pretty as we may have been, the family life was not. The wedding itself I guess could be considered a fair representation of what would come to be. We were children in dress up cloths, in a big fancy church we had zero connection to. The reception so Nassau County, in a big ol’ Irish restaurant. There was a template for a basic wedding and I dutifully mirrored that as best I could in the planning. It was devoid of my personality, which was probably for the best. The after party back at the honeymoon suite was more the essence of my personality and that entailed pool hoping by way of a strangers hotel room and scaling a balcony, security escorts out, a misplaced rented tuxedo jacket (presumably left behind in the pool area), elevator fights, the groom trying to flush his ring down the toilet, and one of his hometown homies professing his love to me…..Oy vey, what a way to start a life. We shouldn’t have been remotely surprised by anything that followed.
Ahhh marriage number two. I’ve already written in painful detail about the marriage itself but the wedding was somewhat lovely. I still didn’t really know who I was, but I did know I was on a path of becoming who I would be. I would have to say perhaps that although I was actually almost to my mid thirties with four children in tow, since my previously lived lifestyle had somewhat stunted my emotional growth, this trip down the aisle had all the first time feels. While I was still following a traditional guide of what the day is “supposed” to look like, I was simultaneously exercising my own opinions in the finer details. It took place in a small town country church where we’d begun to establish roots. The pastor a man we respected, who I believed truly knew us (though later we all would come to learn none of us had ever known the groom). Many congregation and community members on the guest list and a large lavender wedding party of our closest friends surrounded us. We celebrated under a sprawling white tent in a farm field where we looked like we could have stepped out of a magazine, with a hundred plus people running around in their Sunday best. A few things went wrong that day but they were swept under the rug before anyone could notice. The perfect appearance maintained. Actually, with the honesty of hindsight, things had been going wrong throughout the planning – a fight with a bridesmaid, some weirdness with the caterer, over extending the guest list just to appease. A super suspect bachelor party. An underlying feeling of everything being just a tad bit forced. Perhaps this wedding day too was a foreshadowing of the marriage to be. A constant struggle to maintain expected appearances. Surface accomplishments. An intuitive sense of foreboding I hadn’t yet learned to listen to. A ten year process of letting go of my idea of looking like perfection at all costs. And what a cost we all paid for that…I can never say “no regrets”, for I will always regret that wedding day. I will never wish away my earlier days with him, as my youngest could never never be a regret, but he and I had ended shortly after her birth, before the wedding. There is a path I could have chosen where I could have had her and also kept ALL my children safe from him. So yeah, it might be a lovely concept to say “no regrets” but that is not my story.
On that note …A brief pause here before I highlight what was my favorite happy day of 2022 to give an honorary mention to January 3rd for a damn close 2nd of a favorite day. Though it’s not so much “happy”. January 3rd holds a whole different kinda feeling. It’s a bittersweet pill, but hard fought for none the less. If you know, you know. #justice
That brings us to the best, best day ~ 7/21. I’ve been a June bride, a May bride, and now a July bride. July – sweltering heat, always a lingering threat of a storm unexpectedly materializing and passing through just as quickly, evening sea breezes cooling off the hot day. ~ sounds about perfect for us. And 7/21 was perfect. It couldn’t have been anything but since it was done with zero expectations of what perfect should look like. The only thing that mattered was that at sunset (rain or shine) this perfectly imperfect life partner of mine and perfectly imperfect me, would officially become Mrs & Mr. We put some loose plans in place and left enough wiggle room for the universe to work it’s magic, always willing to improvise. And as it turned out, magic was the specialty of the day.
We picked a date. We changed the date. We asked the groom’s brother in law to please get ordained and officiate. We asked the groom’s sister to bake the cake. We asked them both to allow us to hold the reception in their backyard. There was driftwood dragged off the beach to create a wedding archway that was assembled and erected at the spot overlooking the water. The spot which neighbored the reception property. The spot which may technically be a public park. The spot which we may or may not have had a permit to use. Mismatched thrift store chair finds with some former funeral home chairs sprinkled in, created the intimate guest seating. I didn’t so much walk down the aisle, as frolic over to the spot after announcing in a loud voice to all gathered in the adjoining backyard to “follow me, I’m going to get married”. My oldest NoFo friend by my side. The groom’s son by his. As luck would have it, Mister Softee came by just in time to provide the processional music. The newly ordained officiant knocked it out of the park, especially when beginning the ceremony by quoting Prince. 💜 The sunset sky was brilliant with a momentary threat in the form of a rumble of thunder and flash of light across the sky. Just the perfect amount of drama.
We ate gourmet sliders served up from a food truck owned and operated by dear old friends, sitting around swiped picnic tables from the marina lined up in a row, under lights strung through the trees. We drank sparkling water from blue bottles out of iridescent wine glasses. We were toasted, we laughed, we smiled, we took a gazillion Polaroid pictures with silly props, the groom broke out his guitar and serenaded me with an Elvis song. We cut and ate that gorgeous, delicious cake. My beautiful babies surrounded me with their attention and love from beginning to end on that day. There wasn’t a person who was a part of it that didn’t show up and help in all the ways.
The finale of the night ~ Fireworks! Fireworks on the beach. Totally brilliant and illegally purchased by my youngest. She’s her mother’s daughter! And then, when it was all over, the groom and I retired to our boat. Our boat which had been delightfully decorated by a crew of incredibly thoughtful, loving, sneaky ones.
Everything about the day was my kinda perfect, and I honestly don’t know that the future of a married life can be dictated by what’s essentially just a party, just one day, but if it can, I’ll take it. All the elements of the life ahead I hope for are there.
Now I suppose one might wonder why at this stage of the game and with those two untied knots behind me, would I even find it necessary to take one more plunge. I wondered this myself as I mulled it over. I guess it comes down to that of all the beliefs I’ve formulated as I’ve moved through this life of for better or worse experiences, is that a celebrated union does mean something. The words husband and wife, in this case feels like who we’re supposed to be. I didn’t know I could fall in love with a whole family, or that it could be so significant to give a name to who he is in mine. We now have our own relationship names directly with these other people we love. Not just mom or dad’s girlfriend/boyfriend. We’re step parents and in-laws and our families are connected officially. And that is worth believing in, and creating, and celebrating. So yeah, I did it…I did it again!
For whatever a mixed bag a year can be, I do hope 2022 brought it’s fair share of cherished moments to all y’all, and that 2023 has even more happiness in store for each and everyone of us ♥️