Professional photos done by Michael Wiltbank.
I find it difficult to write this post because I am afraid I cannot adequately express how I feel after exchanging vows of commitment with Brian.
There was a time years ago when my future terrified me. It looked like a blank, empty canvas which seemed destined for emptiness forever. I felt as if I could not and did not deserve to share a life with the person I loved. That feeling of loneliness made me worry for my future and I would often find myself in regular deep depressions that I would try to cover up through school or work.
Now I see my life canvas full of vibrancy and there is a picture there of what the future could be if I keep pushing forward and continue painting. I actually started to notice the color before I ever met Brian because eventually, after making several necessary changes in my life, I allowed myself to be happy. I came to a realization that what others thought of me, even if they were my siblings or close "friends", did not really matter. I did not have to accept the crumbs of love with verbal "buts" attached to them. Fortunately, I found more friends, support, and examples in person and online to counter the ones I lost. These are the family and friends that accepted me completely and helped me climb over my own personal brick walls.
Brian and I both came from backgrounds full of adversity. We both grew up going to church regularly where people did not tend to look favorably towards gay people. I, Mormon. Brian, Assembly of God. We both were raised in families where money was hard to come by and budgets were tight. We both have dealt with depression and a lack of total support from some family members after coming out. Brian's coming out resulted into a divorce which caused him to have to juggle financing two households, school, and a solid relationship with his two very young boys. When I hear his stories, I feel like my trials paled in comparison to his.
But as Kelly Clarkson once said on the Top 40 radio way too often: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Adversity can be a good thing.
I always find myself pondering the best way to answer this question. In reality, the service was quick and easy. After receiving our marriage license the previous day, we returned to the City Clerk's office with our witnesses on a cold, rainy morning. We were greeted warmly by the employees there, given a ticket, and waited on a long green bench until they called our ticket number, "C62." After our number was called, we were greeted by the justice of the peace who showed us to the chapel room where he gave us few minutes to prepare.
When the JP returned, he gave us a few instructions and asked how we would like to proceed with the ceremony: Do we want to look at each other or at him? Each other. Do we want to place our rings on the stand or have a witness give them to us? We'll just leave them on the podium.
We believe the JP may have been an aspiring Broadway star or a theater school dropout. As he went through the vows, I could not help but look at him sometimes because of how much he exaggerated each line like a soulful pastor in a Southern Baptist Church. It all went by so fast though. Before I could fully feel the emotions of what was happening, Brian and I had already said our "I do"s, exchanged the Tungsten rings, and kissed before the minister and our witnesses. The minister congratulated us and handed us our official marriage certificate.
Yes, I know. That all might sound underwhelming. In fact, the individual act of going to the City Clerk's office was honestly underwhelming. No one cried tears of joy. We did not spend an hour taking pictures afterwards. There was no massive reception to look forward to. But we did take a quick trip to a bakery called Bruno's for lunch and celebratory wedding cake, which was absolutely delightful and delicious.
Having said all of that, I cannot help but feel like we took a monumental step forward. I mean, we did it! Despite the fact that the legal eyes of Texas does not give an iota about our marriage certificate, several other states do see Brian as my husband. The certificate is something tangible and we have already proudly showed it off to the kids (honestly, they were far more interested in the souvenirs we bought them).
But the meaning of this commitment is deeper than just a piece of paper. I find our wedding special because of the work it took to get to that point and the significant moments Brian and I have shared that have allowed us to grow as a couple.
I remember the time when we had our first date at Star Pizza. Most of our conversation was centered around techie things and our backgrounds. Somewhere within those few hours together, I had a feeling Brian was someone I should continue to pursue. Luckily, he felt the same way about me.
Or the time when we had our first Valentine's Day dinner together, which also happened to be the first time I have been able to properly celebrate Valentine's Day with another person.
The time when we took a weekend trip to San Antonio and I accidentally tasted alcohol for the first time while in our hotel. I spat it out immediately, told Brian his Gatorade/Vodka (or whatever the heck was in it) was disgusting, and once again swore to never drink.
The time when we had a rooftop dinner on top of the town home I rented a room out of. This was also the time when I proved myself to not be a skillful cook.
The time when I first met his kids one summer Saturday and we spent the entire day together at a local water park.
The time during our first long vacation together in California when Brian proposed to me in the cool, quiet night out in the courtyard of our hotel in Carmel.
The time when I first took him home to meet my extended family during Thanksgiving. And the time soon after when our car broke down in Brady, TX on a Sunday while attempting to return to Houston.
The time when my grandmother passed away and he was there to help comfort me every step of the way.
All of the times when we have had deep discussions about religion, career plans, the kids, our families, and our life together.
The time when we first walked into our new home with his boys shortly after becoming new home owners.
The time just two weeks ago when we were sitting together on a plane going to New York, holding each other's hand, and thinking about what we would soon be doing in a few days. All of these past significant moments that built our relationship led to the single most significant moment in the chapel of the City Clerk's office.
Although not many of our friends and none of our family could be in New York for us, we certainly felt the love and support online and by phone. To my amazement, several of my siblings congratulated us and even publicly announced our commitment on their own Facebook walls. A comment my very-much-a-Mormon Dad wrote on Brian's wall was much appreciated and meant a lot to us:
"Congratulations Brian, I am proud to call you one of my sons."We feel very lucky and blessed to receive the kind of support we do. Of course, we want people who have expressed support to witness our commitment in person, so we will soon be very busy planning a wedding ceremony and reception here in Houston this fall. Maybe by then, our piece of paper from New York will at least mean something in the eyes of the federal government. But if not, we still plan to always be stuck with each other! :-)