Getting married is strange. No, not the part where you make a promise to another person, or the part where you pay 90 dollars to sign your name on an official court document. That part was easy, actually–if you have the means, the willful intention, and the right person, I highly recommend it! And the institution itself has some inherent strangeness, sure, but I’m not here to open that can of worms. I’m not even here to tell you to get married at all! But I am here to tell you it’s a little weird. Because even though you’re The Bride (as I was, in this case, and in your case that designation might be different), at some point it’s simply not your big day anymore–not even your big moment–and you have to return to a world of coffee baristas being short with you and bartenders ignoring you and grocery store cashiers still laughing at you when you insist that you really are old enough to buy alcohol. Even though you’re holding onto this thrilling secret, one that you’re convinced everyone knows, they actually don’t. That’s not their fault. There’s no reason they should know that a complete stranger just got married . But still. Maybe I should just, like, tell them? Give a little hint?Because once you get kind words and well wishes from one stranger (“Any special occasion?” “Yes we… just got married!“) the possibility of kind words and well wishes from ALL strangers is too delicious and tempting not to poke at. I am a monster and this is my truth.
To get ahead of the unsolicited advice, no, I am not describing “the post-wedding blues,” which various blog posts on the internet tell me is a thing. I’m not blue at all. In fact, when people ask how I feel now, or what it’s like to be married, I say, “the exact same, only better.” I mean that. And I am frankly relieved to have pulled off getting married in the first place. If you talked to me in the weeks leading up to the wedding, then you know that my biggest stressor was that we were “doing something wrong.” I was never able to articulate what that meant, but I just felt sure that I had incorrectly booked our space, or incorrectly filled out our marriage license, or incorrectly understood the California marriage laws, of which there are very few and they’re pretty loosey-goosey anyway. I had the same feeling when I studied abroad in Italy. I was absolutely sure that I would report to the assigned meet-up spot in the Rome airport and someone would have to break it to me that I wasn’t actually supposed to be there, sorry. But maybe that’s what it boils down to with our getting hitched: it was all so easy. Too easy. This is the state that brought us all 9 of Zsa Zsa Gabor’s marriages, certainly the system is in place to promote fast and efficient service. What was strange then, and what continues to be strange now, is the seamlessness of it all. The very dramatic way that it has disrupted nothing. We are still who we were before we got married.
I think that’s a good thing. I think that means Tony and I were doing something right in the first place, and that we put in the work to know each other and ourselves and to maintain those respective identities. But still, flight attendant, excuse me, it seems my husband and I have been assigned separate seats that are not next to one another, is there any way to….there’s not? None at all? Of course I understand, of course, sorry, never mind, sorry.
Here’s something strange: After we had our wedding ceremony, our small party walked from the courthouse to a nearby restaurant for our lunch reception. Keep in mind, I was wearing a wedding dress and holding a bouquet, Tony in his suit and boutonniere. We had very clearly just gotten married. While walking, a woman sitting on a bench stopped us. She waved an envelope in the air and said, “Can you mail this for me? The mailbox is just over there.” She was not old. We asked, “How far is it?” She pointed across the street. “It’s just across the street and then down aways.” We told her we would not be mailing her envelope and then politely excused ourselves. She grumbled after us. Isn’t that strange? Given everything I know she knows about wedding decorum, and I know she knows because she is from the United States of America where we cram wedding culture down your collective throats, I am struggling to understand why this was her plan A. And I fully cop to not knowing her full story, for not being privy to myriad legitimate reasons why she might have needed assistance. But how strange! One of my first post-marriage interactions with a stranger was not one of congratulations, but one that reminded me that this day is just one small part of a whole life. That even though I had been married for 15 minutes, I was still expected to participate in the world. Do I thank her? Do I resent her? I don’t know, but I hope someone mailed her letter.
Here’s something else that’s strange: Over the weekend I was at a bar, a spot we go to pretty regularly, so there shouldn’t have been any surprises in terms of facilities, staff, clientele, et al. We had the good fortune of sitting with a table full of people who we kind-of knew, so we were able to tastefully reveal our recent nuptials and then bask in congratulatory remarks and well wishes. At one point I excused myself to go to the bathroom. The only available stall was one with a broken lock, the kind where the horizontal bar just kind of wedges into the wooden frame but doesn’t actually latch onto anything. I decided to take my chances and shoved the horizontal bar as deep as it would go into the haphazardly carved out notch. And besides, I told myself, people who use bathrooms regularly know that a closed stall door means that the toilet is occupied. Well. Seconds later I heard the call of the Los Angeles drunk girl, Moon Juice coating the vocal fry, still hoarse and high from Coachella. I said to myself, someone is going to open that stall door. I should also mention that the stalls at this bar are pretty large, so a broken-into stall would be a vulnerable situation, no real way to shut it again unless I kicked it. In my memory, the two girls kicked open my stall door, but I’m pretty sure it was just an aggressive strong arm. They both fell into my stall, my pants literally around my ankles, and they crumbled into a pile at my feet. “Guys, come on,” I said, like an annoyed substitute teacher or a timid step-dad. Once they regained some semblance of composure, they stretched out their arms, pointed their fingers at me, then proceeded to laugh–at me! On a toilet! “Yes, yes, very funny.” I said. “Just, uh, go ahead and close that door.” But they didn’t. They just stood there, laughing, unable to get any of their shit together. They laughed themselves out of my stall, into the bathroom proper, leaving me to sadly swing at a just-out-of-reach stall door. When I accepted that they were just going to continue laughing, I took my time, accepted my fate, finished up in there. But when I finally made my exit past the felt-brimmed hats I was filled with the sudden urge to tell them I had just gotten married.
(But of course I didn’t–then I’d have to talk to them! And that would have been awful. Talking is the worst! There comes a price with revealing secrets about yourself.)
Getting married is strange because there is a society-enforced expectation that everyone should be looking at you and making a big deal out of you, and when they don’t do that, you don’t know how to ask for attention because that feels insane; when they do give you attention, it’s because they want you to mail a letter or because they’ve caught you peeing, and then you decide it’s the “wrong” kind of attention, so what does that mean? To borrow a phrase that I’m sure the bathroom girls have tattooed somewhere on their bodies, Good Vibes Only, you know? But I’m understanding that there is no one right way to be a bride or a newlywed or a recent grad or new in town or in a bad mood today or a human being. It’s all kind of strange. But it’s also a lot of fun and really joyful and LOTS of people say all the right things even when you don’t ask them to. They are what make it feel seamless–people reminding you that they loved you before, and love you a whole lot after.
Tony and I were recently guests on the Rogue Bottle podcast! We drink a lot of champagne, talk all about our wedding day, how we decided to have a non-traditional ceremony, and basically just how much we like each other. The episode is currently in post-production, but will post as soon as it’s done!