So fall turned to winter and Christmas came and went and Darren and I were avoiding the fact that we were from different countries and couldn’t keep this up indefinitely. We had goals we wanted to accomplish and we needed jobs, but we couldn’t achieve them like we were. We definitely didn’t want to be apart, and we definitely wanted to support ourselves. We started researching how we could live and work in each other’s countries and the processes to get visas and permanent residency. The same way kept popping up and we finally confronted it – the idea of marriage. But we hadn’t even been dating a year! I hadn’t even met his parents or been to Canada. I knew that I wanted a wedding with a cake and a dress and all that good stuff. But when we talked about it, we knew that it made the most sense and that it was something we would do eventually anyways. Just the fact that we needed a way to legally coexist and support one another expedited the situation.
I began attempting to discuss the idea with my family, and I kept getting discouraged with their insistence that we be working before we get married. “But we can’t!” I’d tell them, frustrated because I couldn’t understand why they didn’t understand. I asked my Sugarbandit one day, “What made you decide to marry Meemaw?” He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “I loved her! I asked her if she thought she could stand being with this sailor for another 20 years and she said yes. Now it’s been more than 50!” At one point during a talk with my mom, she told me that Sugarbandit told her he didn’t understand all the fuss, that he was with Meemaw for a lot shorter time before they were married than me and Darren had been (and it hadn’t even been a year yet).
We decided that we were going to go ahead and do it. We went to Kay and picked out our own rings and bought them for each other. I told my mom that Darren had bought me a ring and I posted pictures of it on FB (the whole family was cool with the idea of an engagement — they were just worried about marriage with a steady income).
The lease on the house that Bryan and I shared was up on April 1st, so I arranged to move home with mom. Darren and I didn’t want to live here together obviously, so we started making plans to go up to Canada shortly after moving in – we would drive up there together, I would get to see the country, meet the family, and we’d find a place for him to live while we started my permanent residency paperwork. We decided to get married before we did that. And so one of Meemaw’s random comments – “You’d be foolish to get married now” made us pick our wedding day – April 1st, 2011.
A week ago, I called the Montgomery County Clerk’s office to inquire about marriage licenses and ceremonies. I was directed to their officiant’s line. His wife answered and was very helpful with all the questions I had. One REALLY bothered me though — Darren and I had both agreed that we did not want a religious wedding, and when I asked the wife what religious aspects were in the ceremony, she started describing all these different things. Prayer before and after. Discussing what love and relationships meant to God. Part of the vows included God. I asked her if we had the option of a non-religious ceremony and she told me “No. If you want that, you have to go elsewhere.” I was sort of shocked when I hung up the phone — really? The county-paid justice of the peace wouldn’t perform a non-religious ceremony? Where could we find someone that would?
One of my students had been posting on FB about how she had her husband had just gotten married in Hoptown. That thought had never occured to me, so I called up there to inquire about the specifics. A marriage license in TN is $95.50, unless you attend premarital counseling (which knocks $60 off). The license in KY was just $35.50. Wow! Their officiant was a judge, and his secretary told me that the only religious aspect of the ceremony would be at the end, where he would say something about how “let no man tear asunder what has been created before God” or something like that. Darren and I decided we could live with that .
I knew my Mom always had Fridays off, but she also tends to schedule doctor’s appointments then. I found out she had one at 1pm, so on Thursday morning I called and scheduled our ceremony for 10:30. At this point I still hadn’t sprung on Mom that we were going to get married. It’s weird — usually I worry more about disappointing Sugarbandit than Mom, but I felt as if Sugarbandit had our backs, so to speak (the only ones really pushing that we weren’t ready to get married at this point were Mom and Meemaw). I told Darren that I wanted to have the ring on my finger before I told Mom, and they came in that night. So after packing up crap to move all day (we had to be out of the house by midnight!), we went to Kay’s and picked up the rings. As we were sitting in Wendy’s drive thru, waiting to order dinner so we could hurry up and get back to packing/cleaning, Darren popped mine out and asked if I wanted to get married. Woot! An official engagement! I txted Mom to tell her and she responded with “lol, after he ordered a bacon cheeseburger?”
We went back to Mom’s house, where she was cleaning the bathroom. I sat down on the lid of the toilet (so classy!) and proceeded to show her the rings. She didn’t bat an eye at the fact that we had three instead of just one. While we were chatting, Meemaw called and Mom put her on speakerphone. Below is a somewhat accurate transcript of events:
Mom: Guess what I’m doing!
Mom: Cleaning the bathroom. Guess what Britt’s doing.
Mom: Sitting on the toilet showing me her ENGAGEMENT RING!!
Meemaw: Oh, really? That’s nice.
Me: Meemaw, I actually have two rings. I got the wedding band too.
Meemaw: …..WHAT? WHEN ARE YOU GETTING MARRIED?!?!! <in a demonic grandmother voice>
Me, casually: Well you know how you keep saying we’d be foolish to get married now? What’s tomorrow’s date?
Meemaw: <starts screeching>
Mom: <jaw drops, gives me a WTF look>
Me: Meemaw, I gotta go, Mom’s freaking out.
Meemaw: YOU BETTER CALL ME BACK!!!!!
So Mom and I talked, and she was accepting of the idea. But she told me that Da was really upset that Darren didn’t ask his permission to marry me. I was like “what? You’ve got to be kidding me!” See, I know I’m nontraditional and unconventional. I haven’t taken Darren’s last name. I don’t want to (eventually) be walked down the aisle and given away. I had very specifically told Darren before that I didn’t want him to ask anybody’s permission to marry me, because I feel as if I don’t belong to anyone. Mom said that didn’t matter and that Darren had to ask Da to smooth things over, and she told him to go do that right this instant. He gave me this “is this okay?” look before actually doing so. Da told him the same thing Sugarbandit told Da when he asked him if he could marry Mom – “Treat her right.”
The hardest part — breaking the news to Mom — was over. We called Meemaw back and I talked it out with her. This translates to: I talked at Meemaw, and she realized she wasn’t going to win the argument, so she abruptly changed the subject to ask if my cats were handling Mom’s dogs okay. We got off the phone and Mom made some more calls, and then Meemaw eventually called back to ask if we’d like her to take us out to dinner at Charlie’s Steakhouse later that day as a celebration. Since then, I have not heard anymore complaints.
I love my family more than anything, and this is a prime example of why. They stressed me out a lot because I knew that they didn’t want me to get married because they were worried about my lack of a job, but when I told them that I was going to go ahead and do it, they switched into full support mode. They have been awesome and I know that they love both me and Darren. Should our paths take us to Canada on a semi-permanent basis, it’ll be really hard for me to handle not being down here with them — but on the other hand, I’m really excited about the prospect of traveling and starting a future with my husband.
Okay, that’s still so weird. Being married doesn’t feel any different than before, except when I think about it in that way — I have a husband. That’s sooooooo weird. I still feel like I’m too young to be married! But I know that I’m not, and I know that I made the right decision. I truly love Darren and am so excited about the idea of us having a future together. I’m not going to lie and say that things are always perfect, but we really do fit together very well. I get crazy ideas, then I lose motivation — he pushes us through. I start to go overboard and he reins me in. One of us gets upset and the other cheers us up. He’s as madly in love with my cats as I am. He’s not scared of me. That’s SUCH a big deal to me; my ex treated me as if I were a goddess and put me on a pedestal, and was always afraid to contradict me — Darren’ll punch my arm and tell me to stop being a bitch. He’s not afraid to tell me when I’m wrong or being bratty. And I’m not afraid to tell him to stop acting like an ass. He argues with me sometimes just for the sake of arguing. At these points, I’m reminded of Meemaw and Sugarbandit, who have the most successful relationship of anyone I know. Sugarbandit was complaining to me one night that Meemaw has these fiber pills but she never takes them, and they’re expensive, or something like that. I looked at him and deadpanned, “She doesn’t need them when she has you to annoy the shit out of her!” He burst out laughing and told me I was probably right. That’s how I’m going to classify this relationship — I’m hoping that, 50 years from now, we’re going to still be crazy in love and still be keeping each other regular. :P