Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Don't Use the W Word for me.....


Summerfest and the wedding of me and JC

You put all that effort into making a well put together ceremony and then when the big day comes you are going on less than four hours sleep and the sound system isn’t working and you find out there are two event planners at the conference. One of the event planners lets you know you are crazy to try to organize it on your own.
By the end of the day, you know she is absolutely right.
But you let go….finally at the end of the day you look back and say to yourself “I didn’t read my vows…didn’t say what I wanted to say about how much I love JC… and I should have taken his hand after the ceremony and gone to the wine or cake table, we should have planned more (maybe even rehearsed?), we should have toasted our friend Joe who pushed us toward each other, I should have made the time to comb my hair before the ceremony (or at least look in a mirror), should have, could have and didn’t.”….you go over and over the ceremony in your head…then you go over the whole day before the ceremony….and you replay the day a thousand different and better ways…..And every time your mind starts to go there, someone comes up to you and tells you something that makes you realize It Was Perfect As it Was.
The closest we came to rehearsing was me making a deal with JC. If he agreed to not call me "wife" in his vows, I would agree to make my vows less than 200 words. I cannot be someone's wife....and no one is my husband. It sounds too much like ownership. We are a team who choose each other each day.
Here are just some of those comments that brought me to the reality of loving and accepting the ceremony and myself “as is”:
-No fewer than 12 people said that they had given up on finding a loving partner in life, but now, after being at our ceremony, their hope was renewed that there could be LOVE and there could be someone they could make a life with.
-No fewer than 40 people said that it was the most honest and beautiful wedding they had ever been to (Really? We did not have a clue what we were doing, at least not in the official wedding sense)

I am like this after a workshop, too. I look back and only see what could have been different or better. Then someone will say something to me or I will look back much later and see that there was good in it.

At 4 am on the day of the ceremony I was sitting at one of the public computers with Robert Victor the astronomer. We were looking at the weather webpage. This guy knows weather. He is an expert at what happens in the sky for crying out loud. So, when we saw that there was a 60% chance of hail and high winds mixed with thunderstorms, we took it seriously. When he said that 7 pm (the time of the ceremony) was the center of the predicted storm window and that looked like trouble….I took him seriously.
I scrambled to find a back up place to hold the ceremony. The cake maker (Fran Costigan said to just set up in the backup spot and forget about the outdoor space. My father said the weather would be perfect….no problem. My brother said to set up outdoors and just be ready with the back up.
I trusted my brother and my dad. Of all the people I asked, no one had the 80 plus years of experience with life and weather that my dad has. My dad and I have not always seen eye to eye, but I know enough to know when to listen up. This guy knows how to play the odds and trust.
We set up outdoors.
The rain started in the afternoon, the clouds moved in. It was not looking good.
At 6 pm, the rain looked even more determined. I walked over to the ceremony a little after six with my fancy thrift shop India dress and my uncombed raggle taggle hair (now getting wet in the rain). I began setting up chairs and candles and wine glasses and wildflowers as if the rain was not falling.
The people started coming from all directions at about 6:30. The rain had stopped, the clouds were less dark. JC waited in the west and I waited in the east. We would come from different directions because we have had long lives and are coming to this relationship from very different paths.

When we arrived together at the ceremony space, the clouds parted, the sun blasted through and a huge double rainbow appeared. My dad had called it perfectly.

We dedicated the ceremony to all the people who love each other and are not allowed to legally marry in this country. We asked people to speak out about this and to work to change it.

So, we do all this planning and we go through a ceremony with at least 300 people there sharing our love…..loving us and us loving them and still I have not realized what I have committed to.

It was two days later while I was filling a little plastic gas can at the gas station that it hit me. How strange. I was pumping the 2 gallons of gas. I suddenly felt it…..I felt it with my whole being. I have chosen another person to be my life partner. I stopped pumping the gas and closed my eyes. Still holding the pump nozzle in my hand, I felt the breeze hit my cheeks. I felt this commitment and love. I filled with gratitude that JC would choose to love me as fully as he does and that I would love him right back. Feeling it fully for the first time, it felt so RIGHT. I opened my eyes and smiled while I pumped the rest of the gas into the little red gas can. I laughed as I looked around at the ridiculous place that my realization had happened. Only now, while writing this, am I remembering that in the book Peaceful Warrior did Dan get his enlightenment teachings from a guy at a gas station. There must be something about mundane everyday things that allows us the space to relax and feel things fully. I have a friend who goes to the drive thru car wash when she wants to relax. Once her car got stuck in the middle and she was so relaxed she sat there for a long time….not realizing she was stuck in the middle with the blue brushes scrubbing away.... until the workers finally came out to rescue her.

We have been getting emails and calls from friends and family who were at the ceremony and at Summerfest and are coming back to the conference next year and bringing friends with them. The Summerfest family continues to grow. We are so grateful for our giant loving community. It is so rich that I cry happy tears when I think about it.

Now we are in the
Allegheny National Forest stinking like skunk. There is JC trying to get reception with our little antenna stuck on a luck...which is for the best.
Bean (the younger dog) had her first direct skunk encounter. She got sprayed right in the mouth and all over the head and chest. All we had was organic diced tomatoes in a can. I rubbed her with the whole precious can of them, but I am guessing that the folks who said tomato juice meant it. Canned organic diced tomatoes with basil did nothing. We rubbed the little red chunks all over her until she looked like a black olive and tomatoe salad. After a rinse, she flew into the camper, straight up on the bed and dropped her head on the pillow. All four of us and everything in the camper smell freshly sprayed with eau de skunk butt. We found out that there are two very distinct types of people out here on the road. The nice and honest ones who walk into our skuncumference and simply stop mid-sentence to add: “skunk, eh?” and the others who just turn and walk away. I have come to love the smell of our pepe le pew camper and JC has stopped noticing it, like a hairdresser who has done perms for 20 years and doesn’t think his salon stinks.
This guy is definitely the perfect match for me. Who else would let our skunked dog sleep between us with her head on the pillow? Who else would put up with this and all my other shenanigans?

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