So it comes at last, even for me: I am going to get married.
It feels strange to write those words: I am going to get married. Single at forty, only one girlfriend once before, never once coming close to hitting the mark, the last glimmer of hope waning, resigned to terminal geekiness for the rest of my life, and then suddenly...I am going to get married? Who would have thought? I am going to get married!
And yet, if it feels strange to write those words, it's only because I have to place a label. If there are any jitters, they come from apprehensions about the ceremony itself. Everything else about the prospect of spending the rest of my life with the woman I love comes so naturally that I wonder why we didn't meet sooner, or why we have to wait so much longer.
Details: her name is Emily, and she bakes cakes for a living. Not the kind that's wrapped in plastic and sold by the hundreds on the shelves, or slathered in icing and displayed behind glass windows. Emily bakes yummy, funny cakes.
Emily is not so much a baker (although her carrot walnut cake is divine) as she is an artist. Her medium is fondant, and she sculpts it into cartoon characters and designer bags and, sometimes, naughty bits. She's built cupcake towers six feet high, and her toppers are so cute customers are loathe to eat them. Her clients call on her for weddings and debuts, though she's most partial to children's parties.
Following our professional trajectories, we would never have met. Baking is about as far from my interests as information technology is from hers. But two years ago, I produced two books for a writer who turned out to be her aunt, and who was busybody enough to arrange for a match. We both resisted at first, but a few months later we went out on a friendly date.
What you get when you give yourself a chance, and more importantly, when you give another person a chance: it turns out that we read the same comics and we watched the same cartoons. Emily gets my jokes, and I get hers. We both like the same food, and we enjoy the same films. We both like to laugh.
Since we met, I've expanded my social circle, I've discovered new places, and I've been eating better and healthier. I have someone to talk to, to laugh along, and to share my meals with. I feel comfortable around her, and now it feels odd when I'm not with her.
Given all that, how could I not ask her to marry me?
It took nine months into the courtship before I proposed.
Too fast? Too slow? Now that I think about it, neither. A courtship needs to take as long as it needs to take. I am cautious by nature, and so deep down I sought some measure of certainty that marriage was the road for us.
There are no guarantees in life, and so it all came down to the question: would I be happier with her, or without her? Even that took time and discernment to resolve. I let the question sift and percolate, to give it time to mature into its own answer naturally.
And at some point, I just knew.
I proposed on September 8, because it was Our Lady's birthday.
However simple you might want it to be, planning for a wedding is a major production in itself. There's the church date to set, the reception hall to book, the menu to choose, the guest list to draw, the invitations to print, the suit and gown to fit, rings to commission, and the license to sign and ready.
You could take short cuts, yes, but that wouldn't do justice to the gravity and depth of the commitment that you're about to undertake. That's how we feel about it, anyhow.
Put it this way: planning for a wedding is the first major project most couples will undertake. If you can't hack it, how do you expect to manage married life with each other?
It's all been quite an experience for me. I have a newfound respect for the people in the wedding business. On the surface, it may be all lace and flowers and butterflies and cake. But underneath it's engineering and logistical management executed with military precision.
It helps a lot that Emily works in the business. She's had her share of wedding projects, so she knows the ins and outs. But still, it's not quite the same when it's you that's getting married.
So far so good, though there have been days of frayed tempers and tears of frustration. Perhaps worst of all, the two days of sheer torture at the pre-Cana seminar (whose purpose seems to be as much as to dissuade you from marriage as it is to encourage you to form a strong marital bond). But we both braved through all that, and at the end of it, in my heart and in my mind, it's still yes, yes, yes, I do, I do, I do, want to.
I am going to get married.