Thursday, September 04, 2014

glow it all a way

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Twenty-one years ago, September 4th was the Saturday before Labor Day.

It was hotter than the hinges on the gates of hell.

I know, because on 4 September 1993, I was wearing a long sleeved dress that weighed 30 pounds and that is something you remember.

When I put it on, the dress weighed 20 pounds. The extra 10 was sweat.

Wait, no, Southern women don't sweat. What's the saying? "Horses sweat, men perspire, ladies glow."

Ten pounds is a lot of glow.

And my, how I did. Glow, that is...

Throwing the Bouquet at St Stephens Episcopal Church

Our wedding was rather unconventional.

It looked conventional on the outside - church, organ, priest, reception, flowers, photographer, best men, bridesmaids, family, rings, white dress, handsome groom, blushing bride. Things you see every day at every traditional, conventional wedding.

Things are not always as they appear.

We decided to get married on September 4th because it was the Saturday before Labor Day, which gave everyone a long weekend to travel and celebrate. Including us.

We decided this in August. Of the same year. No long engagement period for us.

My mom and I went into overdrive. Lucky for me, it's a speed she lives in most of the time.

I called the church in Ansonborough where I sang. Yes, it was available Saturday morning. No, there was no charge. Check.

I called H. Don the organist. "Dahling, let me plan the music, it will be fabulous, don't worry about a thing." Check.

I stopped Rev Houghton after services. No, he wasn't available, but Fr. Richards, the retired priest from Barbardos, was. We started marriage classes with him the next week. Check.

Reception spaces were expensive and rare. Could we have an outdoor reception in the courtyard behind the church, the courtyard surrounded with 200 year old brick, ivy, and trees? Of course, and the parish hall was included. Check

Food, flowers, photos, and cake. These days you better plan months in advance or forget it. Those days, I was thankful for theater friends with professional careers who said "yes/and." Check.

The best man was our Son #1, fetched from Brevard on Friday before the rehearsal. Our wedding trip was planned around returning him to college after he dropped Son #2 and SportyGirl back home with their mom. Check.

Everyone has heard the business triumvirate - cheap, quick, or good, pick two. My mother laughs at that, choosing all three time and again, and proving it by making the bridesmaids dresses beautifully and cheaply at supersonic speed. Check.

All our parents - ages 86 and 85, 54 and 50 - were alive and nobody boycotted the marriage of the older couple's baby boy (45) and the younger couple's eldest child (29). Check.


We needed rings fast and cheap. Someone suggested WalMart. I laughed, ridiculed, and said no way. Several jewelry stores later, the 14k gold rings at Wally World won us over. Check.

Tuxedos are easy but, according to TLC, buying a wedding dress is hard. Except when you are the kind of person who, faced with boredom and free time, shops ahead for the most remote of possibilities. With no boyfriend or fiance in sight, I shopped for wedding dresses. You know, just in case. My dress - bought two years earlier at the most Charleston of shops, Condon's Bridal - was hanging in my mother's closet. Check.

The groom was a handsome but poor father with three children. The bride was blushing and unemployed, with only love and graduate school to keep her warm. Check and check.

We had wedding gifts and no threshold to carrying them over. We relied on the kindness of strangers and friends and family. We had no idea what the future held.

We knew only that we loved each other. We trusted the glow from our love would light and warm the way.

We were naive.

We were right.

Twenty-one years with one person is a long freaking time. Lots of things happen in that amount of time, good and bad, exciting and mundane. The glow doesn't stay alive all by its lonesome. It has to be nurtured and honored and fed. When the darkness comes, it may be the only thing that reminds you the light will rise again. And when the sun is shining, if you've nurtured it properly, the glow isn't eclipsed. It's expanded.

The glow makes 21 years seem like just a drop in the ocean.

"I Have Loved the Place Where Thine Honour Dwelleth"
We've talked about replacing those WalMart wedding bands. People are astonished they are still holding up. Some might be embarrassed that they didn't come from Tiffany's or Kay's or Jared's. But we figure if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Besides, we know our union isn't held together by those gold bands any more than it is by a license or a certificate or a photo album or a dress in a box in the top of my closet. It isn't even held together by goodness; we both often quote the Confession: "there is no health in us."

We hold together by sheer will that is more steel than gold. By having love and passion, of course. But also by choosing to improvise and say "yes/and." It is important to be patient. It is crucial to have humor. We try to be unpredictable while always doing the one same thing through tough and good, boring and exciting, year in and year out.

Letting it glow.


  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you already had your wedding dress! Happy Anniversary to you and Morgan! And I wish you 21 time 21 more years of happy.

    1. Thanks Anna! Sorry for the late delay - I took a sabbatical from my blog to get organized for the next year and just saw I had comments! <3

  2. I'm a sucker for a good love story. So wonderful. Made me cry.

    You're right, the yes/and is critical, and so is "I apologize" and what my husband said to me the other night, "feelings just are." After a particularly difficult day when I was irritated at everything...things I could not control and feeling like I was in a free fall. At the end of the day, he reminded me why I love him, but accepting my apology and allowing me space to have my feelings, not making me wrong for having them and encouraging me to keep on expressing them (without damaging anyone in the process.)

    1. Isn't it great that we're both married to such wonderful people who happen to be men! :) I know what you mean about the free fall and am so thankful to have a caring person in my life who will reel me back in without squashing me or guilting me. Thanks for sharing!


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