My partner and I celebrated a decade of marriage this past weekend, and our actual anniversary is today. We threw a party with our friends and family at a beautiful county park with a lake, and it was a gorgeous, sunny spring day. We held a little ceremony to honor this milestone in our relationship, and I told this story:
When Stacy and I were early in our relationship, neither one of us put much value in marriage. We believed we could have a perfectly committed, connected, and long-lasting relationship without a need to have it sanctioned by legal or religious authorities.
When Stacy finished grad school she decided that before she launched into the pursuit of her career as a therapist, she wanted follow her dream of joining the Peace Corps. I was also feeling ready for a change and had been looking for what might come next. Since I was madly in love with this woman and couldn’t imagine being apart from her for two years, it made sense to follow her on her adventure. Stacy had done some research before introducing this idea to me, and she let me know that there was one minor requirement to fulfill in order to go to the Peace Corps together as a couple: We had to be married.
It was a little scary for me to think about that reality, but it didn’t really seem like a big deal. It was a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. We said that if we decided after Peace Corps that we didn’t want to be married anymore, it would be simple enough to dissolve the legal bond. Since neither of us gave marriage much weight, the decision wasn’t hard.
We began the application process, meeting with recruiters, filling out paperwork, asking lots of questions about how the Peace Corps works and how the process for getting placed would go. We submitted our paperwork in the Fall of 2003. We only needed to be married before we entered service, not before applying, and our plan was to wait to have a wedding until we knew something more firm about when we would be leaving.
At that time, our good friend Chris worked at the Berkeley Sauna as a massage therapist, and sometimes on Sunday nights, when she finished with clients early and had time to soak in a hot tub before closing, she would invite Stacy and me and other friends to join her. On one particular night Stacy and I happened to be the only ones who came. As the three of us soaked, we talked about how difficult it was trying to plan our immediate future with the uncertainty of what would happen with our Peace Corps application. We weren’t sure how much time we may be given between being offered a placement and leaving for it, or how a wedding would fit into that space. It didn’t make sense to have the wedding before we knew something more about whether we would be selected or not, since there wasn’t any point in getting married if we weren’t.
Chris interjected and asked, “Why wouldn’t you get married anyway?” Not missing a beat, Stacy blurted out, “Because Jade doesn’t want to.”
This threw me for a loop. Before that, I hadn’t heard Stacy say anything about having a desire to get married, and I was caught off guard. It suddenly felt a whole lot hotter in that tub! Obviously, somewhere along the way, Stacy’s feelings about what it meant for the two of us to get married had changed. Since mine hadn’t, I suddenly felt a lot of pressure to give her what I now knew she wanted, even though I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted.
After that fateful night, I spent a lot of time mulling over this new scenario. Of course I knew that I really loved Stacy and I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to be without her, but the decision to get married had gotten a whole lot heavier. For those of you who knew me back then, you may recall that—true to my Gemini nature—I wasn’t very good at making decisions. That’s one reason Stacy and I work so well together. She’s decisive and opinionated and will always tell you exactly what she wants, and I am often happy to follow along. (She didn’t earn the nickname The General by being timid.)
After many anxious hours and weeks of internal debate, I finally decided to go for it. I would leap across the divide, join Stacy on the other side, and ask her to marry me. I mustered up all my courage… and offered her the weakest proposal ever. But, I got the question out, no matter that she almost didn’t even realize that I had asked it.
In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re a little untraditional, and instead of an engagement ring for her finger, I gave her engagement earrings–which I’m wearing today–because I knew they were something she wanted.
We were married on June 5, 2004, and it was one of the happiest days of my life. Now, we’re here in front of you again, nearly 10-years later to offer another testament to our love for each other, and our community. As most of you know, we did end up going to the Peace Corps for a while, but it didn’t work out as we’d expected and we left after six months in The Gambia. However, even though Peace Corps was ultimately a disappointing experience, the bond it initiated between Stacy and me hasn’t been. That bond, and our love, are stronger now than ever before. We’ve been through a lot in ten years, and experienced a lot of changes. I’m happy to say that most of them have been for the better, and I can’t even begin to imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have Stacy as my partner through it all.
Thank you all for giving us your love, your support, your smiles, your jokes, your weirdness, your tears, and sharing yourselves so openly and freely with us. I’m so grateful to be here today with you, knowing that Stacy and I have built a beautiful relationship with each other, and with all of you. I love you all!!