As much as I’d love to write about the success of our second and final marriage, I think I’ll wait until all the pictures come out so that I don’t post the same 12 pictures over and over again. I will squeeze a few in here and there, though, because so far, they are pretty nice and it seems wrong to discuss last year’s marriage and not the one we just had 8 days ago. (whew! already 8 days ago??) So our first attempt at marriage, the one that was to take place in the duplex law office across from Fuddruckers, on the lovely back streets of Alexandria, VA (the transitional, Mexican area), failed miserably. Let’s just say a lot of people wanted to be included, which wasn’t.the.point, and we are people pleasers and I suppose in retrospect, it just wasn’t the word’s nicest idea. Practical never seems to be able to moonlight as smart in our lives and most definitely not with our parents. And so we moved to Germany, engaged, excited and hopeful that I could land a job within 90 days. And naive. Did I say naive?
July and August 2009 were months of leisure. I drank and read my way through each afternoon, searched for jobs and filled out nearly impossible to understand applications for 6 hours each day, collected references and just waited. With each day of unemployment, I grew more and more depressed. I felt worthless, bored and scared I would be 1. sent back 2. forced to live the life of a stay at home dogwalker. My own dogwalker. Ugh, how unsatisfying and terrifying. The days ticked away and soon it was September. I only had a month left. It was clear I would not be getting a job before I would be getting deported. And so we turned to plan B, our plan B, not that little miracle a few of my friends use on a monthly basis after relations with an unidentified man gone wrong. Our plan B is slightly different.
Plan B. We would marry over here. We would elope and then we would plan on our real wedding. But where to elope? Germany, home of a million unnecessary rules, was just going to take too long and it was clear there would be some sort of registration process, background check and perhaps an interrogation and I was not really interested in subjecting myself to German terror for a marriage license. And so then we heard about Denmark. Denmark is the European Vegas for eloping. In fact, it’s one of the only countries in the world that allows for a direct transfer of your marriage license to U.S. paperwork. Get married in Denmark and you may as well have been in Boston. Done deal. We’d go to Denmark.
We applied for a timeframe that seemed to fit my deportation schedule and off we sent the paperwork, which was really nothing more than a few numbers. Two days later came our date choices. We were given two dates in September, both Fridays, and told we needed to check-in on a Wednesday. Smart Danish make you stay four days in the country to get married. They really knew how to promote tourism. We really knew how to get around it. The date we picked, September 18, was the best we could do, and even that wasn’t great. We had Lainie coming to town Thursday that week—in Frankfurt! And so here was my wedding week schedule.
Tuesday, September 15: Drive ten hours after work to border of Germany, dogs in the trunk, one cotton dress packed, rings from VA in tow. Park in nice, quaint collegiate town of Kiel, Germany, just over the border of Denmark, where we eat bread and cheese, watch movies on our laptop and sleep in our car. Ahh, luxury. Call parents and tell them we are in Germany still, thinking about eloping this weekend in Denmark. Seems to go over better than the first time. The constant use of deportation seems to have them stumped. Either they don’t want me back, or they don’t want to be blamed.
Wednesday, September 16 Check in to Haderslev, Denmark, rathaus. Fill out pre-marriage paperwork, write a check, pick a time for wedding to be performed Friday. Promptly leave, grab a coffee and get back in car. :We had 17 hours to get back to Frankfurt to pick up Lainie at the airport. Proceed to haul ass across the world in the Prius, dogs in tow.
Thursday, September 17: Pick Lainie up at 5am and promptly tell her we will be driving to Denmark immediately for our wedding and SURPRISE!! she was going to be our witness. She glances at the dogs in the trunk and laughs. She’s in. Drive all day BACKTOWHEREWEJUSTCAMEFROM and stop in Kiel again for the evening, as Lainie reminds us we have to have a bachelor and bachelorette party. She’s right. At least we get a hotel.
We made a few stops on the way to Kiel, mostly to have a few drinks, convince Lainie it was a good idea to come to Germany, and to break up the 24 hours of driving we had been doing in the past 36 hours. And then finally, Thursday afternoon, we were in Kiel, where we’d stay for the night until it was time to drive to our wedding site the next morning. What to do, what to do. First, we ate all the bread and cheese we had brought with us, dropped the dogs off in the room and mixed us some cocktails. Then we made a few family phone calls, where almost everyone seemed genuinely happy for us, even if it was 2pm on a Thursday on the east coast. Then we drank some more and played with some of the gifts Lainie had brought. All class, all the time. We wandered the streets until we found our standard Irish bar, where we firmly took our place on stools and drank shots until we were warm enough and ambitious enough to go to the bar next-door–the one with the interesting looking goth crowd and the pirate ship inside. It would be one hell of a wedding eve. I can never decide whether I think the, “hobos take the road to marry for visa” part of the story is the most charming, or the fact that we danced the night away with one of our best friends in a bar that housed a life-sized pirate ship is the more interesting part of marriage eve. Maybe I can’t decide because I drank red bull vodkas until I threw up in the toilet, only to go get myself another celebratory shot because it was my WEDDING EVE and I was going to party every last ounce of single out of me if it sent me right into hangover hell. Which it did. But at least we danced the night away. (see action photo to right)
Wedding day! The alarm went off a half hour late and the three of us, sleeping side by side by side in the double bed, dogs on the floor, groaned as we heard it blare loud and louder. We had 30 minutes to get out the door, look wedding presentable and be in the car to make it to Haderslev–and that was if we wanted to be on time to the minute. Jesus, I can’t even get my shit together on my wedding day. Shocking. I don’t shower, not surprising to anyone, and neither does Chris. He is busy ironing his pink shirt and I am busy pulling my cotton dress over my head with one hand and brushing my teeth with the other, in a very futile attempt to brush the booze away. Lainie is the only one that makes a real attempt to look nice. Her hair is washed. She has no wrinkles and she’s wearing eyeliner. Whether it’s from the night before, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. She surely looks better than me, the bride. Off we go, bags in hand, down to the car. I make a last attempt at organization. “Does anyone have the rings??” I am told they are in the green duffle bag.
We load the car, the dogs, ourselves and we are off. Chris backs up. We back over the curb, I think. It does not matter. We are racing toward the border, hoping for no speed limits or cameras. 40 minutes and one border later and we are in Haderslev. The doors all fling open.
“Hurry, hurry, hurry. We are one minute late to my wedding.” I whine. I am being a bitch. I am angry. This is not how this is supposed to go. I look up at Chris for some reassurance. “Oh good fuck, what the hell did you do to your shirt?” He looks down at said shirt. Only the left side is ironed. The entire right side looks like it just came out of the dryer, one without dryer sheets.
“I ironed it. I thought. I forgot to do one side.” Well.OBVIOUSLY.
“It looks awful. I hope you’re happy that one half of our pictures are going to look stupid.” Usually this is where he would say, you look stupid, but today is a special day and he has more restraint than I ever do.
Lainie is trying to keep me calm. “Where are the rings? Let’s get those and everything will be fine.”
“In the green bag, like you guys said.” Why are they asking me questions like this right now?
“I can’t find the green bag.” She says this knowing I am going to lose my shit in about 3 seconds. I look at Chris. He looks at the ground.
“I think I backed over them. In Kiel. When we left the hotel.” He says this calmly, full well knowing I was GOING TO REALLY LOSE MY SHIT NOW.
“You.DID.WHAAAAAAAT????????? You did what? YOU BACKED OVER THE RINGS?????? AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME??” I am the definition of losing.my.shit and I am shrieking at an ucomfortably high pitch and want to murder someone but instead I decide to have a meltdown. “How am I supposed to MARRY YOU WITH NO FUCKING RINGS? WHO BACKS OVER THE RINGS? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO USE FOR A RING? I am about to have a panic attack and I am starting to cry.
“WHERE.ARE.THE.RINGS?” I am now horror film scary and irrational.
“I told you. I think I backed over them in Kiel and…”
“You hit something and you didn’t stop??? You just kept going? Did you know it was the rings? What if it was a child?” I don’t even think he was listening to me anymore. He was smiling his, She’s losing her shit and nothing will talk her down, maybe if we smile and pretend she’s not here we’ll all have a nice time until she comes back down from Crazytown, look. I could see it. I knew what he was doing.
“We don’t need rings to get married, honey. We have each other and our health and the dogs…” He is using that quiet and even talk me down like I’m a spoiled child voice that actually never works it just makes my head want to explode. And then he does it. He claps. The seal clap. The one that means he’s made a discovery or he’s created a solution to my meltdown and the clap signifies that his solution is going to be fantastic.
Out of the corner of my eye I see her toss something to him underhand, with a smile on her face. When he catches it, he lights up and they knowingly nod at each other. I have no idea what the fuck Crockett and Tubbs are up to (Chris claims he’s Crockett) but they sure seem pleased with themselves. I am tapping my foot, arms crossed across my chest, frown still in place.
“Look! You use your ring and I will use this. You give me this.” He is holding a round keychain in one palm and all of our keys are in his other hand. I am going to marry him using our Prius keychain. I am going to either pass out or smash something. We are seven minutes late to our own wedding.
“I am NOT happy right now.” And to be sure they knew it, I stomped my foot as hard as I could. I am 30 and I am stomping my foot like a four year old damnit and I want all of Denmark to know I am pouting. Chris makes me hold his hand the whole way in, even though he knows I despise doing so, primarily due to an undiagnosed sweaty palm issue. He in fact refuses to let my hand go. I am going to jump out of my own skin.
“Heather and Chris! Good to see you. You’re next. This is our officiant, Ms. MeetYourFirstEuropeanMiddleAgedLesbianHippy.” She was just that, really. And she spoke so quietly I had to lean in to hear. That’s quiet. We were ushered into a room. “We decorated for you.” There was a big white candle and a big, velvet pillow and a bouquet of flowers. It wasn’t that bad for a town hall wedding. Well, it was fine until the officiant asked for our rings.
“Could you please hand me the rings for the exchange?” We handed them to her. She looked at them. She looked at us. She looked at me.
“He ran over the other set in Germany. It’s our keychain.” She smiled that “I see” smile that I felt translated into, aren’t you two just.so.special? Damn her and her soft spoken, hemp smelling, even keeled because I may or make not smoke weed, disposition. “Well then.”
The actual ceremony was nothing to make fun of. We repeated her simple vows. We held hands. I felt insane amounts of anxiety for not knowing what to say or do. The pictures just looked awkward and there is a video, but Lainie had it taken away from her and we have hid it so deeply in our video archives that it’s beyond, beyond, beyond Chris’ “adult classics.” We will never show it. It’s awful. We look petrified, hungover and like we’ve never heard of this fancy little business called the dry cleaner. It will never be viewed. Ever.
The wedding, however, happened. It really happened and though it was not perfect, it was perfectly us. And in a matter of 36 hours, three border crossings, two missing rings and one exchange of vows, we were husband and wife. As in really married. Hurray!
And that is the story of our first marriage.
***New header today is compliment of the Jens in NH. They take great pics!