Wednesday, July 4, 2012

to have and to hold

Today marks our anniversary. What year are we on? I really cannot tell you readily. I have to stop and think. I have to go back in time to the year I moved to the US; 2003. Then, I can tell you what year we got married; 2004. From there I can do the math and figure it out; we are on year 8.

I am not good at remembering dates; I still do not know my parent's birthdays. But I am good at preserving memories. Knowing that about myself, I have kept track of the years of by thinking of them as "before September 3rd, 2003" and "after September 3rd, 2003." I specifically picked my birthday date to leave one life behind and start a new one fresh. That year, I celebrated two birthdays on the same day; one before I left and one after I arrived.

So, I have been here going on 9 years and have been married for 8. In these 8 years, so much happened: We lived in Portland. I started, and stopped, a Ph.D. program in Urban Studies. We moved to Washington, DC. Jeff graduated from an M.A. program at JHU. We moved back to Portland. Bought a house. Left the house back to Washington, DC. Jeff started a Ph.D program at GWU. We had JR. And, somewhere in time we got married.

Our wedding was our own "creation." We planned it ourselves, and executed it ourselves. There were no wedding planners, or fancy decorations. There was no overdone hair and makeup and no elaborate dress and suit. And, there certainly wasn't a lengthy wedding guest list or an overly priced venue. It was simple, it was fun, and it was memorable.

We held the ceremony on the roof-top of the apartment building where we used to live, 1969 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR. We covered the fence with blue satin and the tables with white linen. I did my own hair, bought my wedding dress off the shelf, and got my shoes from a consignment store (for something "old"). A friend even made my veil.

We did not have a tiered wedding cake. Instead, we had an assortment of personal cakes surrounding a larger one, Big Cheryl's "Ghetto" Cake best described by the pastry chef who created it: dense, moist cake with a touch of orange and rum, and filled with pastry cream and mixed berries. There’s nothing “ghetto” about it except for the bad pronunciation of the French word “g√Ęteau!" On top of the "Ghetto" cake stood our Polly Pocket bride and groom figurines; they now live in a shadow box on our wall.

Best of all, we did not have a man-made boquet. Instead, we have a hand-made one; one made by our very own hands. And that, to this day, remains the best and most memorable part of the wedding. We got married on a Sunday morning. On Saturday, we strolled through the Portland Farmers Market at PSU, as we did every Saturday. But this day was different; we had a mission. We were looking for flowers. We stopped at all the stands that carried them, but nothing caught our attention. Not until we arrived at the last one did we find them. There, sitting in buckets of water, were the prettiest Calla Lillies. They called out to us, and a few bunched later, we headed back to start working on the center piece. The final result was just what we were after; a collaboration of both our efforts, a memory to cherish, and a bouquet to hold.

I love telling the story of our wedding to friends who come over and look at our wedding photos on the wall. But I have never recounted it in words. While the above summarizes it in words, it does not capture the joy that floated that day, nor that that continues to float every day. The past 8 years were simply amazing, and I am looking forward to many more to come.

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