Twenty years ago my husband and I were married at a courthouse in Maryland. We crossed the line from D.C. to do this but I can't remember the original reason. I think it had to do with the fact that Maryland did not require a blood test. My husband hates needles.
A small sour woman read the words we were to repeat without emotion and without a smile. It was clear she didn't like having to marry an interracial couple. She smiled at other couples. I saw her. She walked away without looking at us as she pronounced us husband and wife.
My mother ignored the letter I had written to say, "even though you don't approve, please think about attending. It's an important day." The letter was presumably thrown in the trash and I never heard from my mother again.
My husband decided to keep the marriage a secret from his family until it was done. He was afraid of any negativity spilling onto our day.
Our two closest friends travelled a long way to be our witnesses. They were dressed as though they were at a fancy wedding. A real wedding with flowers and dancing and family members dabbing at their eyes.
Of course it was none of that. I dabbed at my own eyes throughout the two minute ceremony. My husband was so handsome, so sturdy looking.
Sturdy was what I craved.
That evening my new husband and I held hands as we walked from the Mayflower Hotel to Dupont Circle for dinner. We decided on a little Hungarian restaurant. It was warm and inviting and the goulash was delicious. We finished the bread in the basket and wiped our bowls with the last bites.
I liked looking at the thin gold band on my left hand. The "something borrowed," part of the rhyme.
My friend never asked for the ring back. It would be bad luck to take it off now, she said a few months later. My husband bought a new gold band for me. I wore them both.
A year or two later he gave me another ring with tiny sapphires and tiny diamonds. I wear all three.
It was not the wedding of my childhood dreams.
But it was a good day.
A very good day.