Until I saw our friend Chiemi’s “happy anniversary” message on Facebook, I had not remembered that it was four years ago to the day that Lynne and I married. It’s not that we don’t celebrate our anniversary, but we have been observing it on a different date, in January, since 1980.
Our state legislature voted in June, 2011, to allow same-sex marriages, but we didn’t rush to tie the knot. We both had jaundiced views of marriage, neither of us is affiliated with a religion, and we were doing just fine without the state’s blessing, thank you. After mulling it for a few months, though, we decided that the legal and financial benefits of licensing our relationship were reason enough to do it. Chiemi and Ruby, our goddaughter, agreed to be our witnesses, and we settled on a day later that week for the ceremony. We invited them to lunch for their trouble.
Lynne and I rode the subway downtown on the appointed day, wearing the sort of slightly dressy pants and blouses that we always wear to concerts, good restaurants, and such. At the Marriage Bureau, we took a number and sat on a bench to wait our turn. Chiemi and Ruby both arrived within minutes, both wearing stunningly beautiful dresses, each bearing a bunch of flowers. Anyone looking at the four of us would probably have thought the two of them were the brides to be, and that we were their rather dowdy mothers.
Walking to the restaurant after the ceremony, we realized with alarm that Chiemi had just posted the news of our marriage on Facebook, with a picture of us holding our license. We hadn’t thought to notify several close friends and relatives of our plan, so we whipped out our cell phones and spent the rest of the walk breaking the news before they saw it online.
“You two acted like you were there to get your car registration renewed,” Chiemi said later. And that’s pretty much how we felt about it. But her enthusiasm, and Ruby’s, was infectious. As the word got out and congratulations poured in, my own spirit began to soar. Marriage couldn’t make us any more committed to each other than we already were, but it did indeed feel like something to celebrate.
Still, the anniversary we observe, and the one for which I feel the most profound gratitude, is that date when, nearly 36 years ago, we threw our hearts over the fence. The rest, including a marriage we didn’t know we wanted and would never have thought possible anyway, has followed.