So many people have asked about this...and I have touched on it, but only briefly.
It has taken me a little while to get to the point where I am comfortable sharing our story. It is long, detailed, romantic, sad, young, angry, hopeful, wistful, candid and moving, which is why most of it will stay between the two of us.
I am happy to begin to share some things though, some things I never thought I would share because of the way it might be perceived by others. I can no longer do that, life is to short. My heart is overflowing and I want others to see this part of me. Of us. Expect more frequent posts about us because "we" are what my life is. (Please click here to listen to our song while you read)
Marc and I never had a wedding. We had a whirlwind romance, we fell for each other immediately, it was never a question of if but how. We were both young, mature yet naive. I was 17, Marc was 16. A year later we found ourselves living together, our parents objected for religious reasons and because we were still so young but when it came down to it, again, there was never a question of if just how.
It was a very hard time, my relationship with my family was rocky, as was Marc's with his but we did have each other. I knew in my heart it was right but I did grieve over the strife it was causing.
One evening in late August 2008, Marc was out walking with his mom. She told him that she hadn't thought we would make it, but we had and because of that she would sign our marriage license. We had planned on going on September 30th, 4 days after Marc's 18th birthday but to finally have his mothers support meant so much, we agreed. We found ourselves at the courthouse in Opelika, AL the following Friday. September 5th, 2008. I was 3 months pregnant. I was so happy it was, 5th just sounded so even, like a smooth surface. That morning we woke up and started a tradition. Panera Bread for breakfast, it would happen every morning on our anniversary. I remember pulling up to the courthouse. Marc leaned into me and asked if I was nervous, I was...he was too but we knew this was right. The commitment was already there, it had always been there. We were just making it official. His Dad was there, his younger brother and mother. It still makes me sad that my family was not there. I wore a white dress that I had bought for $5. Marc loved it. We have no photos from that day, which also makes me very sad, but I can remember the details clearly. I remember being really nervous, there was still a bit of tension between everyone so I felt somewhat defensive during this time. We had no rings to exchange and we didn't have the means to buy anything but rings meant little to us. The commitment was there. When we were finally in the room, hearing our vows read to us and repeating them, everything felt surreal. I remember holding Marc's hand, he was trembling a bit, both of us were really. When it came time for Marc to put a ring on my finger I just smiled at him but he surprised me. Well, his mother did actually. She had given Marc a ring, what was her great grandmothers wedding ring. I had been holding back tears but when he put the ring on my finger, I couldn't hold back. It was such a sweet moment. Acceptance, love, honoring our commitment. Our kiss was short and sweet, we were so awkward displaying our affection in front of others then. Afterwards his mother treated us to Olive Garden. Marc and I headed back home, so happy to have been acknowledged as a couple, so happy to officially belong to each other.
Two years later, Marc bought me a ring, a beautiful ring from Bario-Neal and gave it to me on our 2nd anniversary on bended knee and all. I bought him one the year before from a beautiful etsy shop and had Ahava engraved into the band. Ahava means "to give love" in hebrew and has always been special to us. While I was pregnant with Luna my rings were too small, Marc took off his band for me to wear during that time. I ordered him another and have been wearing the three rings since. This too, is beautiful to me. Each ring represents so much, so many different seasons of our life together. I love how married I look with my three bands. Marc does too.
Over the years I have struggle with my feelings over the way things played out, sometimes feeling angry that we didn't have a wedding, an engagement...a normal dating experience but over the past year I have come to see how much beauty there is in our story. (Obviously, this is not all of our story, I plan on sharing how we met eventually, but this is a very important part)
Maybe our culture does things a bit backwards. Maybe our celebrations are a bit premature. Commitment can be really hard work. Falling in love with someone is not. (or at least it wasn't for us) Marc and I have dealt with so much recently, things that I will keep between us. Some are very painful things that some couples never have to deal with but we did, and we walked away stronger as a couple. We have embraced impermanence. We have accepted each other, flaws and all. We make a daily choice to be committed to each other, in small things and big things. We have grown together. Our struggles and frustrations, our hurt and anger...we chose to grow together, like a grafted branch.
Through all of these things I have come to the memories of what happened with a different perspective. I can see how much of our story is beautiful, real and honest. I see our wedding at the courthouse, as un-glamorous as it was, and I see two hearts choosing each other amidst all the hurt and anger...the one thing we were sure of and I have seen that same theme play out over the past 4 years that we have been together. There has been so much hurt, anger, confusion, selfishness and sadness but there has always been us. My haven. My security. It has never been a question, if it was we knew the answer.
I am proud, proud that we didn't make a show of us choosing to commit to each other. It wasn't anything glamorous or show worthy, it was simple and real. It was raw and honest.
Marc and I have long planned on celebrating us in some way, but over the years as we have tossed the idea around we keep coming back to this truth...that celebrating what has been and renewing our commitment is a much better idea. I have seen many weddings and I have watched the marriages over the years after...it seemed so anti-climatic to me as a girl. Sooner or later, the romance fades and people forget they have committed to each other. We all find ourselves in that spot at some point. Doesn't it seem to make more sense to celebrate a couple who made that commitment and have fought so hard to keep it?
This is our heart. I can't wait to celebrate us. To look back over our years together and see all of the beauty we have birthed together, to gather with friends and family who have supported us and rallied behind us when things got tough and to thank them for all they have given us. My family has been there for us so many times, even if its just been talking to my mom on the phone. His family has been an incredible help as well. If we have ever needed anything our families have been willing to help where they can, financially, emotionally or physically. We are lucky to have each other and we are lucky to have our families.
We hope to have a vow renewal/celebration of us in the next 4 years (finances and time permitting). We will have weathered so, so much.
- college and grad school...law school at that!
- raising two girls and the stress that it brings
- several moves. new york city, asheville, athens and finally tuscaloosa.
- financial stresses
- our personal issues (we can both be head strong and completely unaware of our emotional state at times and of course, the more painful difficulties we have brought into our relationship with selfishness)
It's a beautiful thing to look forward to remembering. I am so glad we did things the way that we did, I am thankful for the pain because it contrasts with the beauty so perfectly.
So here is to our past and our future. The growing moments, the joyful moments, the selfish moments and the miraculous ones.
(see my pinterest anniversary idea board, here)
(the lyrics to our song, here)
I hope this makes sense as most of it was a free-flow of thoughts from my heart and head, it helps me bring clarity to write about these things and to share them. I hope our story brings some beauty into your day.
*I hope this post does not offend anyone. It is not my intention to be offensive but rather to share my honest thoughts and feelings on this subject. For me, It is a way of honoring and remembering the beauty that was so present in those moments.