Six months ago today…
…the sweetest man on the planet said, “I do” when asked if he would take me as his husband.I really don’t quite understand how I got lucky enough to have him in my life. The fact that he’s stuck with me for more than 15 years now is a daily wonder.
Making a big fuss about a six month “anniversary” is a bit silly. For one thing, one of the Latin roots of anniversary means “year”—the literal definition is “returning yearly,” so the phrase “six month anniversary” is nonsensical. If you were to insist on a Latinate word for it you could call it the semi-anniversary, but then someone is going to say, “Don’t you mean semi-annular” at which point you have to explain that semi-annular refers to the shape or form of a half-ring rather than a unit of time and once you’re down that pedantic rabbit hole you might as well give up.
Marking the lesser milestones seems premature when you’re talking about a brand-new relationship, because you’re presumed to still be in the giddy state of having not really gotten to know each other, and where hormones and the novelty of newness makes one more prone to overlook any signs of incompatibility. There is also a fear of jinxing things.
Neither of those would seem to apply to us, having been together for more than 15 years. But that immediately raises the question, shouldn’t we observe the anniversary of the day we met, or our first date, or the day we moved in together, et cetera, rather than the date of this more recent formalization of the existing relationship?
I have several responses to that one.
The less obvious response is that neither of us had the foresight to make a note of the precise date of those other events. We don’t even agree on when we first met. Michael remembers meeting me at an early morning panel on a Friday at NorWesCon (NorthWest Science Fiction Convention). I don’t recall that meeting, but rather remember meeting him at a Saturday room party at the same NorWesCon. Which is why for years Michael said we should just think of NorWesCon as our anniversary. Our first go-out-for-dinner date was in February ’98, a few months after Ray died. I think it was the 7th, but I’m not completely sure. We made plans to move in together, but we were going to wait until after the anniversary of Ray’s death, because it seemed unseemly to do so before that. But a series of bizarre incidents with two of Michael’s roommates made me feel he wasn’t safe there, so we accelerated plans and what with the flurry of events that ensued, we don’t quite agree on which month the actual moving in happened, let alone which day. Our various registrations of domestic partnerships (in different jurisdictions, et al) were dictated by external legal and insurance-requirement reasons, without much planning or fanfare.
My next argument is that the vast majority of married couples have all of those significant dates, too, but the one everyone focuses is on is the date you stand up in front of witnesses and an officiant to say “I do,” even though the emotional commitment happened before that point.
And my biggest argument is that the date for which the even vaster majority of friends, family, and acquaintances of all those married couples consider “real” is the date that one became legally married. That’s when you made things official. That’s when society gave the stamp of approval (or at least recognition). If you’re required to produce proof, that’s the date which will be on the certification you can request from an appropriate agency.
For us, that date didn’t become possible until we had already been together for many years. We did it on the first day it was legal in the state we reside in for several reasons. Yes, one was because we’d been waiting for a long time, goddammit! Another was that it was a date where it was easy to get several of the people we wanted to be there, there (though given how many of them volunteered to stand in line with us at midnight when licenses were first available, if that’s when we wanted to get ours, I realize that easy wasn’t one of their requirements).
But it was also because that day, December 9, 2012, was the first day in America that same-sex couples were allowed to marry as a result of a vote of the people. Yes, three states passed marriage equality on Election Day, 2012, but by pure chance, Michael and I lived in the state of those three whose constitution gave the earliest date such a law became effective. We beat out Maine by 20 days, and Maryland by 22.
If I’d really wanted to be historical, we should have tried to be one of the couples married after midnight by the county judge who came in to do those. Admittedly, it would have been very cool to have our official marriage certificate signed by Judge Mary Yu—isn’t that the coolest name for a judge? Regardless, I’m proud that a majority of our state citizens were willing to recognize the basic humanity and fairness issues involved. Do I think it should have happened years ago? Of course we wish the culture had been less intolerant long ago. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the fact that a lot of people have reached that conclusion—so having our anniversary on the historic day lets us commemorate that event, too.
And I can’t help being a product of my culture. I grew up with everything from fairy tales, television, family, and the community at large saying that the milestone worth marking is the wedding day. Not the day you signed civil union papers. Not the day you realized that his smile was something you would go out of your way to make reappear. Not the day you first signed a lease together. Not the day you caught yourself changing a favorite recipe because he doesn’t like tomatoes. Not the night you bought a major kitchen appliance together. Not the day that you first realized that you never wanted a morning to dawn without him at your side. Not even the day you picked up your marriage license.
No, the date you’re supposed to remember, the date that matters, is the day you got married.
So, yeah, even though I’m a bit of an old man, and we’ve been together for as long as we have, I’m going to keep being a bit of a silly, giddy newlywed. I’m probably going to keep saying “Happy Anniversary” on the 9th of every month for the rest of the year. I’m going to keep getting a silly grin on my face and a tear in my eye when I realize it’s been another month since I stood there, holding flowers and trying not to cry too hard to repeat my vows.
Because six months ago today, the sweetest man in the world married me. And don’t you forget it!