The day proved warm and filled with promise--the promise of rain. I loved and love the look of deep purple and blue clouds, rolling overhead.
Inside, green garlands subtly accented spaces. A woman played "Trumpet Tune", a piece by Purcell. Had I been free to choose, we would have had one of Satie's "Gymnopedies".
The day remained warm and filled with promise. The warmth increased.
Words were spoken, with trembling timbre. No sermons burdened love with law. No solos sought to impose upon a spoken duet of promise and unity. We gathered with people who filled the spaces.
We remember them still--even those who left us, years ago.
Our mothers, being escorted to their respective places. They are each gone now, each from the same condition. Other people we love, present, with us then and now, and yet gone from us now.
I can count back ages and remember faces and imagine moments I had and could have had. Happy memories are often laced with the rich brogue of sadness.
Everything was well-planned, thanks to a kind step-mother-in-law. Everythng was traditional but not stultifying, gracious but not ornate. I can think of individual missteps--a word of devotion unspoken during a speech, a trembling quaver during an affirmation--but the whole of the thing was wonderful.
I'd been to many before. I've been to many since. I believe in them. I don't insist upon them any longer, but I believe deeply in them. Rituals help me approach that idea of words made flesh. I like both the traditional and new-created rituals.
We stood outdoors, at one point, beneath skies pregnant with rain. No rain fell. The wind swept through hair, and ruffled corsages. Afterward, I ate small bland sausages in tiny hamburger buns.
A white dress. A gray morning coat. A white cake. A chocolate cake.
The quartet played "Ode to Joy". A tangy punch. A night in a renovated turn of the century hotel.
The rituals which begin a marriage range from the deeply meaningful to the vague and misplaced
snippery. Solemn pledges. Bach, but not Mendelsohn. Give knives only with a penny attached.
This idea, of building a family, works well as a solemnized occasion. Yet in so many ways, each morning is a ceremony. We arise, and the passing of sixteen yeaars simplifies but does not change
the basic vows. "With this ring, I thee wed". The cake slice with a frosted rose on top is replaced by a bowl of breakfast cereal. The nervousness and doubt of the first moments melt into the certainties and trumpet tune of moment upon moment.
We boarded a plane for an island. We swam under the surface of the water, while tiny jellyfish, too small to sting, swarmed about us. We dined on lobster. We lived in the present.
Life presents these moments of idylls. It also presents challenges and frustrations--asynchronies and longings, discords and dissatisfactions. But the days fade and wander, and paths smooth.
Our lives are not picturesque. We are not unduly lovely or unaccountably wonderful. We do not live in a distinguishing or distinctive way. We'll dine tonight at a restaurant which bills itself as a "Japanese bistro". We'll try not to notice that it is, apparently, in the second floor of a mini-mall.
Our lives are not picture-perfect. We could recount lacks and hopes and dreams as yet unfulfilled.
But we know that the life we chose is the life we continue to choose. We each think, sometimes, how we could have acted better. But we never think that we should have chosen differently.
We live in the companionship of words and quiet comfort. We share a grilled salmon. We walk through parks where flowers grow. We talk, incessantly. We vent, we smile, we love.
Sixteen years ago today we gathered with people we love and we performed a public ritual. We dressed in clothes we never wore again. We exchanged rings. People stood. Then we began a ceremony that has lasted years.
In our marriage, there is the tasteful garlanding, the splash of flowers, the promise of rain.
There are the days and people remembered, and, fortunately, only a few days best forgotten.
Each day we create a new set of memories. Each morning we awake together, and each evevening we rest together. In a thousand other churches, on a three hundred sixty five days, the "Trumpet Tune" plays. The congregation stands. The process begins anew. The skies hold the promise of rain.