We got married on July 1, which as any Canadians out there will know is: Canada Day. That's like their July 4, except different. It's about confederation rather than independence...but still involves fireworks. John reasoned that if we got married that day whenever we were in Canada for our anniversary we'd have free fireworks - plus he got the day off work so could travel down to NYC to marry me. Seemed like a plan.
We have been engaged for a long while now, but I have not mentioned any of this publicly for a number of reasons including my pending (now completed as of 6/20) divorce in the UK. Once that divorce was completed, John and I were free to marry, which we did as soon as we could. All of this happened quite quickly and was in process from about my birthday onward, which is why I was keeping radio silence on the blog. We have begun immigration paperwork (a long and winding road of 7-8 months - the realities of post-9/11 life in the US) so John can move down from Canada.
In the whacky world of US immigration law, my now-husband had to go back to his home country after we got married so as to file paperwork so he can get a visa to live here. There are less legal ways to do this and people generally get away with it, but we chose to go the ultra-legal way...which means of course it'll take us longer. Because the law is written in such a way that it's actually easier to break it than follow it. I doubt any immigration reform will address this, but kinda wish it would. We have a great immigration attorney, however. A fellow named David Katona (in case anyone's looking for one) who is known for high ethics and only taking people who he knows are getting married for real. We are hoping this coupled with the entirely obvious fact to anyone who looks that we are getting married for real will speed along the application. However, the word speed and US visa application are not synonymous and unlike in the UK where there is a possibility of expedited service for a fee, there is no such thing here....
So, wish us luck! There is one possible visa that if it comes through on time John could move down in 4-5 months, but due to weird technicalities that one usually doesn't come through on time before the other one wends its leisurely way through the Montreal Embassy (a known site of visa gridlock for obvious reasons)...
OK, so back to the fun part, the wedding!
First of all, in case you are on the fence about how to get married, let me assure you that a NYC City Hall (technically City Clerk's Office) wedding is as good as it gets if you like the idea of being surrounded by lots of happy people of every possible description about to get married. We took this route for efficacy's sake but it turned out to be an incredible experience in and of itself. While we are going to have another ceremony after John settles here wherein we can plan and invite people, write our own vows and all that, this one turned out to be far more special than we could have dreamed.
The many reasons for this are: the aforementioned NYC experience, which now - happily - includes gay couples - so it's kind of like if you took everyone out of an average subway car and lined them up to get married. This is a great feeling.
The next reason was my extraordinary friends, 8 of whom showed up with only 4 days notice on a Monday at 1pm: one friend, our witness (and my chief friend/ally-in-life), Julie, who came in from East Hampton for the day, two other friends, who I am referring to as bride saves (steeper qualification than bride's maids), Alyson and Rachel, who took half days off from work and managed to make me a bouquet, adjust my dress, take photos and help me shop (Rachel) and do my hair, make a Just Married Sign and be an amazing support (Alyson) and both of whom carried the rings for John and me. Other photographer/videographer friends included Nina (professional photojournalist - you will see some of her photos below), Robyn (international editor and excellent friend), Elinor (beloved friend and ally), Christian (friend since 1986 - mentioned in this blog back in October 2011 when we went to Occupy Wall Street marches together - chief witness to my life since then and all round amazing human) and Diane (lovely friend who happily for me just finished the semester teaching and took a great video of the ceremony). Without these extraordinary people, this event would have been special and wonderful because John and I are so in love, but it would not have been So Astonishingly Special and Wonderful. Because of them, we were not only two people in love who knew we had finally found the one true love of our lives, but we were two people in love surrounded by a loving Community of people who wanted to share in this most precious moment with us and who enhanced that moment with their presence. (Photos of all mentioned will appear below, never fear!)
Then, as if that wasn't enough, we ended up with James Mitchell, the extraordinary officiant who was profiled on Valentine's Day in the NYTimes. You can read the article about him here. He loves his job and perfectly captured the joy and solemnity of the vows with his oracular yet friendly presence.
We had found perfect rings in Portland, Maine at Cross Jewelers that frame our jade engagement rings (photos below). Then, I found the wedding dress and shoes at Second Time Around on the Upper West Side - in about 5 minutes (Nanette Lepore dress and Prada sandals for $200 - amazing). We found John's tux at Century21 - a Kenneth Cole for $250. Only in New York...
OK, so that's the surround. But here's the thing: I was getting married - as mentioned prior - for the third time. This fact alone is incredibly embarrassing (and oddly in line with my family heritage - which makes it even more embarrassing). But it's true. So, how - many of my friends who have known me for a while naturally wanted to know - do you know this is a good idea? You with such a bad track record of marriage. And why on earth are you marrying someone so quickly? Are you (they want to say and almost say but do not quite say) mad??
So, for these friends, here is my answer: I wondered some of this myself, of course, but then I meditated and sat still. Every time I prayed or went to seek counsel from my trusted ally-friends who have some of the same challenges I face in life and with whom I have sought a spiritual solution to same (original typo was soulution, which I kind of like actually), I got the same answer: this is your one true love who has shown consistently through actions as well as words that he loves you unconditionally and without reserve. You love him the same way. There is no reason not to let this happen and receive this extraordinarily miraculous gift of true love.
I told John when he proposed to me (about 2 weeks into our meeting) that I wasn't sure because while I may have another marriage in me, I know I don't have another divorce in me. In case you haven't gone through a divorce, let me assure you, it's soul-crushingly painful. If, like me, you said vows meaning them, the idea that they can be severed comes as a rude shock to the system. I am now of course glad both those divorces happened because it has allowed me to find and marry John, but if I could have my choice, I'd rather never have married either former partner, simply because now that I know what a real marriage feels like, those former marriages feel deeply unreal. I am not blaming either former partner for this by the way. I'm the one that should have known but didn't. True love is so unique and rare than until you experience it, you don't know you haven't experienced it. It's that simple. So it's not a blame thing, it's just the facts.
However, now I know what it feels like to say vows and have them said to me at a time and in such a way that it feels almost redundant. That commitment to each other started almost immediately and shows no signs of abating. Instead, we simply feel more and more committed to one another as time goes on.
Because of my experience of having a miscarriage the day after my last wedding, I was also shit scared that something horrendous would happen on July 2. But it didn't. I was so scared before the ceremony because I felt perhaps I was missing something or making a mistake that somehow I couldn't see, but then as soon as we said the vows and went to Nha Trang restaurant (Vietnamese place around the corner) to settle in for a late lunch, I knew it was all right. My friend Julie says I have never been or seemed happier since she's known me and I know she's right. The photos show the face of someone I barely recognize because I don't remember ever smiling this broadly or feeling so at ease with another human being with whom I am in an intimate relationship.
What makes John so special, among many things, is that when I remembered the miscarriage experience while sitting on the sofa waiting our turn in line to get married, I could whisper this fear into his ear and hear loving words back, be held a little closer and given support I needed so much in that moment. From that moment on, I knew it was all OK. And it was.
Finally, as you will notice, I have - for the first time ever - changed my name. John and I both have changed our surnames to Barclay-Morton. This is a huge step for someone who had three stepfathers and was married twice all without changing her name. This is the outward sign of the deep love we feel for one another and the way we feel our lives are intertwined forever.
Even now that John has gone back to Canada, I can feel his presence strongly. Last night he appeared to comfort me in a dream, so I know it's very deep this feeling - not simply a conscious choice but one that has penetrated my whole being and becoming-in-the-world.
July 1 our wedding day was also the one year anniversary of the memorial service for my beloved stepfather Tom. I did pass this by my mother who said she felt Tom would be deeply happy for this confluence of dates. That he and his patron saint-god Ganesh would be delighted. My Ganesh, given to me by my mother, sits in front of me now on my computer, along with a stone given to me by a friend and a little porcelain frog given by another. I am truly blessed, surrounded by love on all sides.
My mother was very sad not to be at the ceremony, but she is fully in support, having met John in Maine and happy to have him as a son-in-law.
Below are some pictures to give you a flavor of the day (photos by Rachel, Elinor, Christian & Nina):
|love this cheesy backdrop at Marriage Bureau - feel so proud to be a New Yorker importing a Canadian|
|beginning of ceremony with bride-saves Alyson & Rachel|
|friend & witness Christian - since 1986 - seeing each other through It All|
|we've got a ticket to marry - woohoo: C714|
|'showered with blessings' - butterfly umbrellas purchased in Montreal at butterfly exhibit|
|with James Mitchell City Hall officiant extraordinaire|
|John & me with my grrrl posse: Robyn, Alyson, Diane, Elinor, Julie, Rachel, Nina|
|Julie being our witness - officially(!)|
|the ring bit - which was just lovely|
|my ring..as I was saying vows to John|
|I have never seen a photo of me looking happier - after telling John about my fears before ceremony - you can see why he's the man for me.|