Saturday, May 24, 2014
There's no real way to mention getting engaged without coming across like a smug jerk, so here goes: I'm an engaged smug jerk!
About six weeks ago, Mike and I went for a walk. It was a gorgeous early spring day. The leaves were just starting to bud, I had just come from a brunch with a friend, and the sunshine was epic. Mike suggested a walk up to Casa Loma, which is one of our standard let's-get-out-of-the-house walks, so we hustled up the ten flights of stairs, paused briefly to take in the view of the city, and then settled in on a bench outside of the stables. I spent the next fifteen minutes making silly jokes about David Caruso's CSI: Miami cold opens: coming up with puns and then sliding my sunglasses on my face, screaming "yeaaaaah" into the blue spring sky.
Despite this, Mike still got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
We're getting hitched in September. City Hall ceremony, then a reception at my parent's farm the following day. It's a whirlwind, really and truly: there seems to be five thousand moving parts to consider, about eight thousand people to meet with and emails to draft, and many thousands of dollars to spend. From the big picture (feeding 100 people for less than five grand should not be impossible, but it seems like it might be) to the fine details (what do our wedding favours really say about us?), there are hundreds of decisions to make, with factors like taste, time, and cost all coming into play. Just now, Mike turned to me and said, "What do you want to do about cake toppers?" I gave him a blank look in return. Cake toppers?
This is our life now.
A friend asked why we were getting married. He said it, like, why bother? It's a good question: we already live together, we're both Canadian citizens, and the current cultural landscape wouldn't judge us if we decided to have some bastard children in our rented apartment. So why get married?
Well, first and foremost, because we love each other. Mike is a wonderful partner, a wonderful man. He makes me feel better when I'm blue, and good about who I am. He is funny and passionate. He's a genre-movie savant, which both delights and confuses me. He is caring and generous. He does not let me get away with shit, and that's a good thing. He'll say things like, "I want you to have all the creative outlets you need," apropos of nothing, when we're just lounging in bed. He'll text me from concerts he's been looking forward to for months to say that he misses me. He reminds me to water the plants, and he still checks me out when he sees me on the street. He brings out the best in me: challenges me to be kinder, sweeter, less acerbic and more generous. He is genuinely sweet, and I am sweet for him. He's my best friend.
But there's more to it than that. We want the same things: we both work at non-profits, for example, because we both like feeling we're making a difference in the world©. We both want kids, and to raise them in a city we love (Toronto, duh). We have similar life goals: happiness over riches, appreciation for both the natural world and a city's cultural offerings, strong family and friend-community ties. We talk a lot about the future: the places we'd like to visit, the names we might give our children, the types of houses we would live in, and a million other things. Even just the pancakes we're going eat next weekend.
Plus, marriage just isn't the same as co-habitation. Living together can happen almost by accident. Maybe you just need a place to stay after your lease expires, and I happen to be getting tired of my roommate, and we'll just see how it goes for a few months while you look for something more permanent. Next thing you know, it's been a year, and we could technically claim common-law status if we wanted it. And there's nothing wrong with that, but it's almost like slumping into commitment. It doesn't seem intentional, like shouting from the rooftops, "Hey, this is my chosen person!"
Weddings are often showy, weird, ostentatious, incomprehensible, and wildly expensive. I've been to receptions where every single speech was about the bride, and only the bride; the groom barely had a cameo at his own wedding. They're also deeply personal, traditional, formative, and demonstrative of how the couple chooses to present themselves together. Our wedding is trying to reflect our deep intimacy (the private ceremony) and the commitment we also honour with our large and far-flung social circle (the larger reception). I'm trying to balance feeling like a bride and feeling like a greedy princess; so far, I've done this by avoiding all wedding magazines and wedding blogs except this one. I'm trying to remember that cake toppers don't say anything about us, per se; that not every wedding meal needs to be an elaborate buffet; that registering for things doesn't mean we're assholes.
Frankly, I'm much more excited about being married than I am about having a wedding. I once read a quote from a wedding photographer, who said, "you realize that photographing [a wedding] is like photographing the coin toss before a football game: Nothing’s actually happened yet." I firmly agree with this. I think our day will be an important day, but not The Most! Important! Day! Moments like graduating university, stepping off the plane to Europe, and the birth of your children had better be on that list, too. Celebrations, all.
And getting married will be fun. We're in the process of picking out songs, and talking about decoration, and finalizing our guest list. It's all work, but it's sort of fun work—like camping, or redecorating your bathroom. And it's going to be worth it: when the sun goes down and everyone is full, after speeches are over and before the dancefloor kicks up, there will be a moment, a sigh of contentedness, that will make all this worthwhile.