It was four years ago today. I awoke in a hotel bed in Fernandina Beach, FL on the morning of my wedding day. I am a man who questions everything. I move forward with great trepidation and hesitation. I tend to worry first and act later, much later.
August 3, 2002 found me without worry and without hesitation. I awoke feeling strong, confident, and lucky as hell. My son and I stirred about the hotel room for a bit and then went outside to the parking lot to toss the football back and forth. It was a warm and sunny day and all seemed right with the world. Friends and family had made the trip down from Tennessee to Florida (two drove to Florida from the D.C. area!) to witness one of my happiest days. I would pledge and commit myself to the love of my life, and I am happy to have shared that moment with so many kind and loving people.
What still strikes me is how smoothly the whole thing went for me. The stress I carry with me so often through life was completely absent that day. No nerves, no fainting at the altar - I was proud and happy and the day sailed by like so many of the beautiful boats off the shore of that little island town. Standing at the altar, my best man and groomsmen by my side (as I know they continue to be), I got to watch my beautiful bride make step after step on her way to choosing me to be her man forever. With each step, I felt both stronger and more vulnerable.
So often in my life, I had been sure of one thing. I would purposely remain single. The married life was not the life for me. Relatively cool, I just functioned better unwed, unspoken for. My personality is too quirky for another person to have to deal with it forever and ever. Not the big money maker and not the life of the party, a fantastic evening for me could be defined as an evening alone watching IFC or listening to some jazz while reading Charles Bukowski novels. Could anyone really love a guy forever whose idea of a great week is one in which a new issue of The New Yorker magazine arrives and he hears a cool David Sedaris essay on NPR? Surely not. People develop crushes on guys like me, but they don't build lives around us.
But it's been four years since she walked that walk (down the aisle) and talked that talk (she said "I do!") and she still kills me with looks of admiration and love. I watch her move through her days and I am always reminded of why I was not nervous at all on our wedding day. She is my love and having chosen each other always reminds me of a great line from The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It is this: "When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object." I never question that Paige is the woman with whom I am supposed to share a life. With her, my nerves are calm and my heart rests easily in quiet comfort. My heart spoke and I knew not to object.
The vows I spoke four years ago:
I accept you Paige,
as a person, and as my wife,
with your strengths and your weaknesses.
I promise to be loyal to you in health
to share what I have and who I am,
to love enough to risk being hurt,
to trust when I misunderstand,
to weep with you in sorrow,
to celebrate with you in joy,
and to live with you in reverence.
Happy Anniversary! Paige, I love you.