Eleven years ago today, it was also a Sunday – though the weather was much lovelier on that day than this one, when it’s not even 8:30 in the morning and the window screens are clogged with rain. I woke up in my parents’ apartment in Manhattan, early as usual, and settled in for meditation. I was surprisingly calm, both in mind and body, considering that seven hours hence, I was due at my own wedding.
Looking back now, it makes sense that I wasn’t freaking out. I had known from the moment my husband first smiled at me that he was The Guy. It was a moment of pure recognition, of finding something I hadn’t known I’d been looking for. The way our lives had been orchestrated so that we found each other exactly when we did – he, refitting the pieces of himself after divorce, and I, still puzzling out my own after almost three years in recovery – the way the rounded edges of my pieces fit perfectly into the divots and crags in his. The way it felt like home when we were together. All reassured me that this thing we had was divinely written, and absolutely right.
But at the time, how nervous I was NOT was harrowing. Weren’t cold feet part of the package? Was I being too overconfident? Just to cover my bases, I had staged a mini-mind-spin the night before, pacing around my mother’s bedroom like the jittery bride I thought I was supposed to be.
“Don’t worry, Honey,” Mom reassured me. “If it doesn’t work out, you can always get divorced.”
Wow, Mom. Thanks.
But when I woke up, all was still as a vacant pond. No fear, not even jumpy excitement. And it stayed that way as we drove to the venue, a wedding factory in Monsey, NY hand-selected by my father. Cool as a cucumber, I got my makeup done, then did it again myself so I didn’t look like a Stepford bride, and put on the spectacular, $1,600 gown I would wear only once. I smiled calmly through pictures, placing a white-leather-bound book of psalms in my lap so I would look extra pious (really, I was singing Jason Mraz’s “Wordplay” in my head). Like a docile little lamb, I let my mother and future mother-in-law lead me into the bedekin room, where I was placed in a regal, white wicker chair to kiss my guests hello as they held their plates of hors d’ouevres as far away from my dress as possible.
Then, suddenly, the music kicked up, and the doors to the room swung open. In danced a black-coated, black-hatted, vibrating throng surrounding my groom, whom I hadn’t seen in nine days. Like a seismic shift, a wave of pure, unfiltered emotion rose from my belly and out of my mouth in a scream not unlike a teenage girl’s at a One Direction concert.
“OH MY GOD!” I squealed, grabbing my mother’s hand. “I LOVE HIM!!!!”
Mom smiled big at that.
Guess we wouldn’t have to worry about the divorce.
As the room looked on, my husband of the imminent future grinned at me, then moved my veil over my face. Both his father and mine gave me a blessing, and they whisked him off again.
“Whew!” I said, collapsing back in the chair. “That was intense!”
Just like that, I was walking down the aisle flanked by my parents, the band playing a song my husband had written for me. A note went sour as I approached the chuppah, which set a bubble of laughter into my throat. (This tends to be my modus operandi in moments when I’m supposed to behave myself.) My betrothed stood with eyes closed in mindful prayer, which compelled me to do the same as my mother and mother-in-law walked me in seven circles around him. I think I managed one prayer – something along the lines of, Please, let this be good – before my jumpy monkey mind took over: Oh, my God I’m getting married right now Please don’t trip in front of everyone Orthodox weddings are so weird Why didn’t we just get married at The Cape House I hope this is over soon I had to fast all day and I WANT MY BREAKFAST…
We settled into the ceremony, most of which I missed from trying not laugh – a struggle every time the groom and I caught each other’s eyes. When he finally placed the ring on my finger and pronounced me his wife, I pulled a victory elbow inward and said, “YES!” The room erupted in laughter, and I felt the pressure release.
There. Much better.
My now official husband smashed the glass, the band burst into a celebratory tune, and together we walked out of the chuppah and into a crowd of kisses and hugs and Mazel Tovs. It was an endless slog back down the aisle and into the Yichud room, where we were, for the first time in what felt like forever, finally and blessedly alone.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hi,” I said. “We’re married.”
We grinned like idiots.
“I don’t know about you,” I said, “but I’m ready to EAT.”
We posed for pictures, then danced and partied and sweat and acted like fools and then it was over. As the last of our guests left, I changed out of my very modest wedding gown and into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Hubby did the same (sans the dress). Then we went to the local kosher grocery store to pick up dinner – we were in Monsey, after all – found our hotel, and fell into a giddy sleep.
Was it my dream wedding? Nope. It was the big, fat, frum wedding my father threw for his daughter. And I’m glad he had that. All I cared about (besides the dress) was the dude under the chuppah. And today, eleven years, ten moves, five kids, and a million ups and downs later, that’s all I still care about. He is just as patient, just as kind, just as good as he was in the beginning. He is still my number one fan – the man forced me to write my book and published it – and he still calls me on it when I’m being an asshole. He lets me micromanage him, remains as reliably light and bouyant as a pool toy, and, despite everything I’ve thrown at him, is still crazy about me.
God bless him.
Happy Anniversary, Husband. We done good so far.