the Wedding Blog
neil and i were married one year ago, to the day.
this is the story of our wedding, the “official one,” and what led up to it.
i know, i know…it’s a bit late.
i started compiling this blog in the weeks after our marriage and found – like many of my blogs – that the longer i left it unposted, the more cumbersome it became.
because my life is structured the way it was, blogging about my wedding seemed to “legitimate” it more than a piece of paper from the city hall in san francisco.
i found myself confronted, as people pestered me with constant “WHERE’S THE WEDDING BLOG” emails and twitters, with my puzzlement about why it was so hard to post.
i think it’s because:
a) i didn’t want to become my own one-woman self-published tabloid. posting wedding pictures right after we got married in someone’s living room felt like, i don’t know, cashing in on a moment that should remain unmined. this brings up huge issues that i find myself confronted with more and more as i settle deeper and deeper into my life as “amanda palmer: queen of the internet.” i don’t want to live to document my moments. i don’t want to see a sunset and reach for my iPhone. i don’t want to live my life and love my loves inside out. i fear, sometimes, that i do. i fear for all of us. and in these moments, i find non-action is the only antidote. or something like that.
b) i feel conflicted about marriage in general, and i don’t find it easy to write about. you’ll read about that below. but it’s taken me the past year to even begin the beginning of excavating my feelings about what marriage is, why we do it, and what it means. since i wrote the bulk of this blog, neil and i also threw a more family-oriented private wedding-y party up in scotland. going through that experience shed a lot of light on why we got married the way we did (under cover of night, barely telling anybody) and what the institution of marriage and the traditional traditions were built for. the world has changed, family structures have changed, the family farm and the crown jewels aren’t really the issue around here.
c) what felt magic can becomes either undone or overdone when you try to make a story out of it. especially when you’re a story-maker.
neil is. i am. we both are.
i watch the story unfold.
sometimes i dictate the story to myself, then sometimes to the world.
sometimes i take dictation. sometimes i get it wrong.
here’s the story:
neil and i got engaged two years ago, on new year’s day…the first day of 2010.
i had played at symphony hall with the boston pops the night before, and then there was a raucous and historic new year’s celebration in the attic my house, the cloud club. i don’t think we’ve ever had that many dancing drunk people on the top floor at the same time, with music quite as bombastic, and quite that many people making out…. the floor groaning under the weight of the joy. the next morning, i was hung. OVER.
neil loves telling this story, and i always get embarrassed when he tells it. usually it’s hard to embarrass me. so i’ll tell it and maybe it’ll be less embarrassing forever.
according to neil – and i do remember this – i told him i’d marry him in bed the night before.
but he said: you’re drunk. we’ll discuss it in the morning.
he had a good point.
in the morning, i told him i still meant it.
but we agreed that it was quite possible i was still drunk.
also a good point.
so we went out to eat.
but a little background: he’d been asking me to marry him for months; it was a running joke at that point.
he had the habit of turning to me a few times a day and saying, very non-nonchalantly: will you marry me?
and i’d come up with different creative versions of
at one point, i think i started saying
but we both think i’d probably really decided on
well before i was drunk on new year’s eve, while i was putting on my costume backstage at symphony hall in boston.
i was a bundle of pre-rachmaninoff nerves and twittering (the old school way. with my voice) to my friend becca, aka becca darling, aka the beecharmer blog-keeper, aka melissa mahony in the “oasis” video.
neil walked into the dressing room to grab something and i turned to becca and said:
“what do you think? do you think i should marry neil gaiman?”
becca, in classic deadpan becca style, nodded.
“you’re probably right.”
and i think that’s when neil and i knew we were going to get married.
the new year’s concert itself was a hit, and a quick youtube search will show you the boston pops backing me on both rachmaninoff AND lady gaga tunes (a first, i believe, at symphony hall in one evening).
our wonderful friend jeremy geidt took this photo of me & neil kissing at midnight, as balloons descended all around us.
and the afterparty, as i said, was epic.
and there i was….hungover.
it was a cold, clear snow-on-the-ground new england winter day, and after peeling ourselves out of bed, we walked down the slushy street to have brunch with my father jack, his wife donna, and my half-brother alex. settling down at the lovely trident cafe on newbury street, i ordered a burrito and a giant smoothie which i promptly threw up in the bathroom.
on the walk home, i was that wonderfully unsteady, buzzy brand of post-hangover-puking, and i remember having to hang onto neil to keep from yakking again in the street.
and as romantic as it sounds….well, it actually was a bit romantic. i felt his caretaking love for me like a warm blanket around my shoulders. i have issues with feeling cared for. i’m always suspicious that there will be a creeping judgment slithering under the surface, a price to be exacted. but all i felt was this english guy walking next to me, with his arm around my shoulder, grinning a wild grin and turning to me occasionally saying “i love you so much.” i felt really, deeply loved in a way i never had. and that feeling had been growing there, having taken root a long while before that. i didn’t know whether to trust it or not.
i don’t believe in marriage, i thought to myself.
what am i doing?
i also remember thinking: i may never find a person, a lover, who loves me this much without casting judgement on who i am, what i do.
(on a side note: neil says that one of the moments he realized that *I* really loved *him* was the time he was sick with the flu in a texas hotel room. he puked in the bathroom, and when he came back to bed i still made out with him. that’s love, he said.)
we turned the corner into a little alley that leads from massachusetts avenue to my house. in a little clearing he got down on one knee, in the snow.
i said yes.
and he had no ring, so he drew a ring on my finger with a sharpie. and he kept refreshing it for the next few days. (why does this remind me of “And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn”?)
then we went back to my house, where, lo, a great family brunch party was being held, and it was told to the great mass of people assembled in that place that we were engaged, including my parents, who didn’t believe us. they thought we were joking. the party carried on, and i spent five minutes being amazed that people weren’t making more of a fuss about our announcement. it took us those five minutes to digest that the whole room had indeed thought we were joking. we made a second, awkward, announcement that we actually meant it. after the initial shock more off, people gave us their sincere and baffled congratulations. there were tears.
and then, the first thing i remember after that was people asking: so when’s the big day?
i hadn’t thought about that. and neil hadn’t either.
so we just told people
then time started to pass. my brain started to chew on it.
right around that same time, my benevolent landlord/friend/neighbor/art-partner lee found a batch of old family photos in a plastic bag that i’d given him to scan.
one was of my mother (kathy, she must have been in her early to mid 20s)….and he emailed it to me.
he had given the email the subject line: “HMMM WHERE WILL I BE IN TWENTY YEARS”….
this was taken in the 60s, when my mother kathy married my father jack.
what WAS she thinking? i don’t know.
several years later they got divorced, when i was about a year old. my sister was 4.
then dad remarried (he eloped that time, to elaine, my first stepmother), and mom remarried a man who’d just been divorced (my stepfather, john), and then dad got divorced again, and remarried donna, and my sister alyson got married and divorced, and i made a couple of records (one dresden dolls, one solo) with producers who were getting divorced, and my aunt and uncle got divorced, and come to think of it pretty much everybody i knew had parents that were divorced….and when i look back at this series of events i think it’s not so crazy that i made a vow when i was 23 or so:
i’d only get married to someone after living with them for at least ten years, at which point marriage would be, well, irrelevant.
but then i thought: fuck it.
i mean, i must have.
look at me. same bat time, same bat channel.
this one taken in the chabon’s bathroom, a year ago…photo by holly:
holy matrimony, batman.
one of the funny things about my relationship with neil was that we WEREN’T living together, and we weren’t going to for some time, by any count.
and i knew that this was actually what was making our relationship WORK…at least for the moment.
not surprisingly, most of my long-term and significant relationships pre-dated the dresden dolls (i.e. my touring career).
it’s almost impossible to put down enough roots for a real relationship while living in a tour bus or in a different city every night of your life. the few times i tried it i failed rather miserably. ani difranco and tori amos both married members of their touring crew (i think). it doesn’t surprise me. those are the people that you have available; the eligible bachelors of your village.
on the surface, neil understood me in a way i’d been longing for. he knew what it meant to be a workaholic, he knew what it meant to make artistic choices that nobody agreed with, he knew what life on the road was like, he’d done it himself. and under the surface he and i became like magnets to one another: we picked up each other’s weak spots and strong spots and somehow managed to function together like one solid force.
shortly before meeting neil, i’d gone through a heavy soul-searching period where i came to a place in which i could feel powerfully, certainly, guiltlessly single. i hadn’t been able to get there before, it took a lot of thought, and a lot of work. i examined culture and standards and wondered why it was that everyone was INSISTING on this coupling thing.
what the fuck?
i looked hard at the constant (and often media-driven) prescription that happiness is coupling-dependent, marriage-dependent, and child-bearing-dependent. some of the happiest people i’ve met are old and single. and i know they’re not shitting me.
get married? after my vow to myself?
sometimes i think i still don’t know. it definitely felt like a leap of faith into an abyss.
and i certainly remember thinking about the dozens of times that i’d cast judgment upon hearing that people were getting married after only being together for a year, or even two, or three.
i’d scoff and think: “HA, how long do you think THIS one’s going to last?” i actually famously had my biggest foot-in-mouth moment at a wedding reception table in 1998 when i attended the wedding of a college friend of mind (she was marrying a new zealander she’d met a year before, or something) and addressed that very question, word for word, to my friends, loudly and drunkenly at a round table at a wedding reception. i was looked at in complete horror, accompanying with knife-to-throat and finger-to-lips movements from each and every one of them.
(*poetically, they stayed together, and they’re one of the happier couple i’ve ever seen, with two beautiful daughters. your final answer, you rude betch? thirteen years.)
maybe it’s true: maybe you just don’t know.
all i can say is: getting married to neil felt like such an obvious thing to do, because i’d found the perfect man for an amanda palmer, and wouldn’t be looking for another partner anytime soon.
and maybe (less romantically), i also felt like i’d been around the block enough times to know that this man was what i wanted, and marriage tells the world.
i’ve watched a lot of relationships (and plenty of my own) fail due to poor chemistry and poor communication.
and most affairs burn hard and fast and then leave you with the smoldering debris of reality.
i’d been in fast-passionate relationships, and in real, i-know-this-is-love love a handful of times, but i’d never been fully comfortable for very long, in fact, almost every relationship couldn’t stay standing more than a year. and the general downfall was often the inkling that i’d be causing a lot of damage to the other party with my signature freedom-obsession. as in business, so in relationships: i despise being told what to do. i just hate it. i like making things up as i go along, i like kissing who i want to when i want to, and i have no desire to be possessed, owned, kept or put in my place as a girlfriend or a wife. as the marquis de merteuil says in “dangerous liaisons,” one of my favorite films of all time (i just re-watched it with casey the other night…i’d forgotten how amazing it is):
“One of the reasons that I never remarried, despite a quite bewildering range of offer, was the determination never again to be ordered around. I must therefore ask you to adopt a less marital tone of voice.”
it was a constant cause of marvel to me that neil looked at these determined and fiercely independent qualities and he not only withstood them, he not only tolerated them, he actually encouraged them. i’d fantasized for years that i’d someday find this person, who would hold me but let me go flying into the void, and simultaneously let me go flying but hold me, keep me tethered to the earth. and when i found him, true to my long-held assumption about what would come to pass should i find a human this miraculous, i actually clung.
therein lies the paradox and the proof that the “if you love somebody set them free” theory holds a hell of a lot of water. i cherish his tolerance of my freedom-obsession so dearly that i’m fearful of doing anything that would hurt him or disrespect him and the freedom he allows me. but it takes a fuckload of faith.
this was a new level of love, a new level of connection, a new level of commitment, and a new kind of understanding.
neil and i often compare our relationship to two planes flying in tandem.
pros and cons?
he was funny. pro.
and famous. pro…and con, sometimes.
he had money. funny, but this was actually a liability in my case, since i’m perfectly capable of supporting myself comfortably, and had never been with someone who had more money than i did, which made me really UNcomfortable, and sometimes still does.
but honestly, and i mean honestly: the selling point was that he actually understood me, deeply, and that he loved me as i was and had no desire to harness me. and he wanted to come on the adventure with me, not pin me down to his own plan, and not simply stand by the sidelines and cheer. i’d found an actual partner.
also he was really cute and great in bed.
i think i’ve gotten way off topic. where were we?……
ah yes, when’s the date?
this was a tricky business.
we discussed every possibility from eloping quietly to having a huge princess di & charles art-wedding, and considered all the pros and cons.
it was like a giant logic puzzle, and we couldn’t untangle it.
when i was a little girl visiting my british grandparent’s house, i used to love poring over the royal wedding album.
it was a huge coffee table book, and i remember looking at princess diana’s 50-foot long train and thinking: that is awesome.
i mean, look how long it is. so pretttttty.
every time i imagined us having a big wedding, i imagined it being as big as possible. i mean, why not? if you’re going to throw a party, throw it.
but the funny thing is, i had absolutely no desire to do any of the work.
i spend my life putting together giant events.
the minute i actually put my brain to it, and the fact that it would take an immense amount of creative energy….it stopped seeming like fun, and started seeming like WORK.
i also started considering the giant dramas that would unfold as people were not invited, not included, over-included, and the whole mess. the fantasy on the outside started to look like a potential inside disaster. we started talking about why we were really having a wedding, for whom, and what, and why, and we had this discussion probably 20 times. and every time we’d think we’d gotten to an answer, we’d realize there was some fatal flaw in the plan.
i also started talking to other people, to see how they’d done it, especially newly-married people around my age.
i can’t tell how how many times i heard:
“don’t do the big wedding. it won’t be for you, and it’ll be a royal pain in the ass.” (no pun intended)
nobody who’d run off to elope or get married in a teeny-tiny way had any regrets, but a lot of the people who’d had giant affairs had nightmare tales of epic proportions.
also, i think part of the attraction of having a giant wedding is that, as a bride, you get to be a total rock star for a day.
the attention. the cameras. the swarm and heat of attention and doting.
the focus is pretty much on you for a collection of hours, and you can spend months and months planning how you want to shine in that spotlight.
as amanda palmer, for better or worse, i already do this every day.
i knew that being in the spotlight for a day wasn’t particularly high on my list of priorities.
i get to do that almost anytime i want. and so does neil.
and don’t forget: i’d also made my living as a forlorn living-statue bride for 6 years, wearing a vintage wedding gown i bought for $19.99 at the garment district in cambridge, with hundreds of thousands of eyes on me as i shared looks, love and poetic moments with the general population.
at one point i decided my autobiography was going to be titled “never a bridesmaid always a bride.”
at some level, i feel like i’d been getting married to the world for ages.
i’d spent a lot of time, up there on my milk crate, thinking about how people look at brides and believe in them the way they believe in fairies.
putting on my bridal gown and veil every day from 1997-2002 and heading to work definitely wore the charm down.
but it also made me realize something, those hours on a crate: nowadays, at some level, everybody loves a bride.
and everybody loves a bride, i think, because a bride symbolizes hope.
in a world filled with NO NO NO NO NO and fear and terror and doubt, a bride fills up the space in the minds eye as a giant white tulle YES, and you don’t need to know the romantic backstory. somehow, through some miraculous chain of events, this woman has decided to throw herself into a life commitment. and it means something different now than it did 100, even 50, years ago. because nowadays she has a choice.
so, as a street performer, i got to stand up signifying YES for years on end. and it was especially moving when people in passing cars would throw shit at me, yelling “GET A FUCKING JOB.”
to which i would reply, in my mind of course, i never spoke a word: this IS MY FUCKING JOB YOU MOTHERFUCKER. YES YES YES YES YES YES.
anyway…the point was, i’d clocked a lot of bride hours.
and also, we got faux-married in new orleans, as my birthday present to neil.
(that’s jason webley on the right, pronouncing us man and statue. the photo is by kyle cassidy. for more of kyle’s photos from the new orleans faux-marriage, check out this album olga nunes put together for neil and i.)
we felt a little more married after that, and a big-ass wedding started to seem less necessary.
and we noticed that the idea of a gradual marriage is actually quite healthy.
for starters, after new orleans, i felt entitled to practice calling neil my husband.
we took an overnight amtrak train and told the midwestern retired couple with whom we were randomly seated for dinner that we were newlyweds on our honeymoon.
it wasn’t a COMPLETE lie.
we talked about getting married in scotland. we talked about getting married in london. we talked about getting married in vegas. we talked about getting married in new york. bali. africa. the moon.
finally, the day before thanksgiving, we had The Wedding talk again and we finally decided what to do.
we were going to have a giant family-only wedding CELEBRATION in the summer, for just our folks, and elope before that. somewhere.
on thanksgiving, i told my whole family our plan.
then we had to figure out where to elope. we talked about doing it in australia, and even went so far as to convince peter and clare (in whose house i’m currently sitting, editing this blog, and in whose house i composed most of it, one year ago) to donate their backyard, and for a while, that was the plan.
then something happened. at this point, almost a year had passed since our engagement. new year’s was upon us.
while on a retreat, neil had made friends with the writer armistead maupin.
since we were going to be together in san francisco for the dresden dolls’ new year’s show at the warfield, neil invited armistead to watch us, and also he wanted to introduce us over dinner. so we made plans to have dinner with armistead and his husband christopher, and when i told my dear friend lance horne this fact, he said he’d FLY himself and HIS boyfriend to san francisco if he could come to dinner with us because holy shit we’d all be having dinner with armistead maupin. i said: i think that can be arranged.
as neil and i were discussing this dinner arrangement, we both had the same thought at the same time: that we should ditch the australia idea and just get hitched in san francisco surrounded by a bunch of friends, because that would, obviously, be…fabulous.
the second inspiration was to ask jason webley to come and marry us, for real this time. he and neil started searching for online ordaining options.
the third inspiration was to call upon neil’s other writer friends, michael chabon and ayelet waldman, whose home we’d already been welcomed into the year before.
michael and ayelet have a kind of a dream-home, filled with four astoundingly awesome children, random instruments, rugs, books and all manner of homey-goodness. we asked if they would have us and armistead and lance and company over to dinner and by the way get married right before we eat and by the way would rosie possibly mind being our flower girl. they said yes, and rosie, age six, began aggressively plotting her outfit. things were officially underway.
having a wedding with little kids around, i found, is perfect. it’s like christmas: they bring the certain magic to it that makes it magic and without them the magic almost doesn’t exist. shedding your bitterness and believing in the magic of a wedding is almost like believing in santa claus. yes, virginia.
the meal grew to include a few more people, who mostly didn’t get told that they were going to be attending a wedding, but at the last minute we broke down and spilled the beans, just in case anyone was thinking of canceling. january second is still a hangover day, we figured we might want to clarify the importance of not skipping out in case anyone was feeling like a tired-ass pussy.
so when i packed for this trip a few days after christmas, i had to pack for two dresden dolls’ concerts, a wedding, an australian tour, and a still-unclear honeymoon-ish post-australian-tour vacation that neil and i were going to take at the end of this whole ride with miss maddy gaiman and one of her friends.
i thought: what do i wear? i decided, as i often do with photoshoots when i have no idea what mood i’ll be in, to bring Options. Symbolic Options.
i brought a sparkly grey dress made by the wonderful kambriel that i’d worn exactly a year before at the pre-party for the boston pops and the beautiful gold chinese robe that neil had made for me in shanghai for twelve dollars before we were dating and claims to this day was not a Courting Gesture. and i was on the phone with neil while he was packing for san francisco and he said:
you know, i have your wedding dress.
i’d forgotten: after our faux-wedding in new orleans i’d had to continue on the tour bus with the dolls, so i gave him the disheveled and slightly sour-smelling bag of bridal street-performance laundry and he and his assistant the fabulous lorraine had toted it back to minneapolis where they’d had the good sense to dry clean it.
i said: bring it, you never know. so he did.
the new year’s dolls’ concert was transcendent. it was so fucking good, it almost seems a shame that this blog is going to overshadow it with wedding-y-ness, but it was one of those grand, historic, everyone-in-love dresden dolls’ shows. my favorite part of the show was actually BEFORE the show started, when jason was playing “auld lang syne” in catering and a whole collection of dresden dolls’ family and good ol’ san francisco friends and lovers were laughing around tables, eating cake and singing.
and i thought: we’re all together. things just got better from there….zoe, jason, and pomplamoose opened up and rocked the house, and joined us on stage for cover songs and madness, and jason counted us down from 11 to herald in the new beginning. once again, there was much making out. neil came on stage and kissed me, people made out behind the stage curtains, and brian and i played on and on until we hit a state of absolute exhaustion and collapsed. and that was that.
(side note: i was lucky enough on the day of the show itself to have renee hahn come and do acupuncture on my aching, travel-weary bod. one advantage of doing ANYTHING in san francisco is the number of friends i have who will physically take care of me. renee has been my acupuncturist for years, and i’ve promised her a blog at some point extolling the virtues and awesomeness of acupuncture, which i swear i’ll do. but this blog is getting ridiculously long already. so consider this a commercial break: if you’re in dire need of relief from what’s ailing you and you’re in the bay area, i have two things to say to you: renee hahn for acupuncture – reneehahn.com – and whitney moses for massage – whitneymoses.com – they’re the BEST.)
i don’t remember much of the rest of the night, though i wasn’t drunk enough to have a legitimate hangover the next day. i must have been maturing.
but i was completely exhausted.
neil and i took the 1st off to recuperate, i said goodbye to brian, and we vegetated through the afternoon. we decided it might make sense to have some sort of bachelor/bachelorette shenanigans, but with only 12 hours to plan, it didn’t seem like much would come of that. i decided to take the collected gals in my immediate surroundings out to dinner, and we went to a live jazz restaurant called Bix. we drank cocktails and talked…about sex, vaginal problems, relationships, and as many other things we think up that could not be comfortably done in the presence of men. it was a civilized and respectable hen-party. meanwhile, across the bay bridge, something much less civilized was going down in the world of the bachelor party….but i’ll let neil tell that story.
then, the next day – wedding day – we tangoed.
neil’s friend rain graves had offered us through email, ages ago, to give us a san franciscan tango lesson.
so we showed up for an hour or two, and we didn’t tell her we were about to head to our own wedding.
and during the lesson, when she talked about how the art of tango was to relinquish control to your dance-partner and trust that he would bravely carry you across the floor, i cried.
neil thinks he danced like a water yak.
i think he danced beautifully.
then we headed over to the chabon’s house to make up a wedding.
when i arrived, i lugged my suitcases up the stairs – along with the dry-cleaned street-bride dress – and used ayelet’s bedroom as a bridal suite.
rosie looked resplendent in fuchsia. abe (age 8) wore a white tuxedo.
the older chabon kids, zeke and sophie, stood by as rosie and abe wreaked let’s-make-a-wedding havoc…sophie coming in with various shoe options (i didn’t have any shoes, i ended up just wearing my stage boots) and a curling iron. i’d left my makeup bag at the hotel, so i borrowed some from ayelet and whitney. classic.
i showed rosie and abe the various dress options. the sparkly dress? the chinese robe? the stinky street-performer dress i’d worn for years of busking?
after very brief consideration, they pointed at the legitimate (albeit soiled and torn) street-performer wedding gown. so it was. i put it on. casey zipped me up.
i had a pair of borrowed blue underwear, leant by a close friend who told me about the “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” superstition.
not being a reader of bridal mags, and having had almost nothing to do with bridal culture ever, i’d never heard it. but it sounded like a challenging game.
we figured her blue underwear counted as three categories: old, borrowed, and blue. i needed something new.
so i arranged surprise brand-new wedding gloves, a whole lot of them, made in secret by the designer who created my australian tour costume, david reynoso, and he fed-exed them to the hotel the day before. i gave a pair to each lady in the house. i was one pair short, so two ladies had to go michael jackson style. still, hot.
around the time i was starting to get dressed, we realized we hadn’t made an actual plan, like, about how to actually run a ceremony and all that.
where in the house, and how to do it?
so i went downstairs to talk to neil and kate and jason, our recently ordained online pastor, but abe threw a small fit informing me that i couldn’t be seen by the groom, so neil had to attend he wedding planning meeting – in michael chabon’s office – with his eyes closed.
we decided to make abe the ringbearer, and neil gave him my great-grandmother’s ring which i’ve been wearing on and off for the past year as an engagement ring (which still needs its own blog, because it has such a good story of it’s own). abe put the ring in his little tuxedo pocket. we gave rosie a basket of flowers.
we told jason we would each write and read some sort of vow, and we planned the wedding for twenty minutes later. then, football-style, we BROKE, and ran off to our various corners to get ready….jason went off to try to find a printer. neil and i went off to write some vows.
with twenty minutes to improvise a wedding look, the girls went to work on my hair and we decided to use the street-bride veil and grabbed some flowers from downstairs to tuck into it. it looked lovely, actually. holly took pictures and occasionally i would turn to her, or casey, or kate, and say:
holy shit, i’m getting married.
and they would smile and nod.
whitney made me a bridal bouquet.
daniel made me a drink downstairs and sent it up with michael chabon.
michael handed it to me and when i asked what it was he said: daniel calls it the “Nervous Bride.”
i wasn’t really nervous until he said that.
once i was all dressed, everybody left and i sat down on the chabon toilet seat to write my vows.
i had about ten minutes to do it. then i started fretting and re-drafting and the vows started getting really long-winded. what, me?
i told kate to tell everyone to hang on and drink, but then people down there started getting antsy, so i wrapped it up, thinking it was about the best i could do and dammit why did i have to cram last-minute on my wedding vows. i think this might be my favorite picture:
it seems to sum up my life in a way i cannot explain, especially the boots.
nothing about this wedding was actually planned. it’s funny when i look back on it.
i wouldn’t have chosen it any other way.
….rosie and abe came up to fetch me, i put my veil over my face, and we all walked down the stairs together.
rosie went first with her basket of rose petals, and abe carried the ring….
…and we piled into the living room where everybody stood waiting. daniel handler (aka lemony snicket, who came with his beautiful wife) borrowed jason’s accordion, and played the wedding march.
jason himself was the best marrying reverend the world has ever seen. he talked to us about saying Yes.
there was crying. he read a poem by e.e. cummings, and we made our vows, and neil put the ring back on my finger, and there was lots more crying. that whole part is a little bit of a blur.
and we ate. neil’s son mike and his girlfriend courtney brought us the best wedding pie decorations ever seen:
there was a bounty of mexican food. this time, after eating it, i didn’t puke. magical!
and we shared stories with each there, and neil and i looked at each other a lot, drunk with affection, and we ate like pigs.
and when it was over, there was music (daniel handler, who’s the accordion player from the magnetic fields, was magically on hand to play us “the book of love”) and we tried to play “puff the magic dragon” and failed. daniel managed to pull out “like a virgin” (perfect!) and we got the whole room dancing at a certain point. between me, jason, and daniel we also managed a not half-bad version of “white wedding.”
we were tired.
then ayelet took abe and rosie up to bed, and we stayed up and played pianos and accordions and guitars, and we all sang along to “hallelujah” and sophie saved us by remembering the lyrics better than we could. me and jason played “flying robert” by request, but i had to write the lyrics down on a piece of paper:
winner? holly gaiman.
and here’s an amazing picture of the whole mess of us. i wish i could do one of those who’s-who puzzles and namecheck everybody, but you can probably figure it out:
(this photo by ayelet…most of the other wedding photos, by the way, are a mishmash of superkate, holly, mike, ayelet and me. i took terrible notes.
it would be a good time, at this moment, to thank them all for doing that. and to thank the chabon/waldmans for hosting us. and to thank whitney
and casey and superkate and holly for being my wonderful girlfriends and holding my hand all day. superkate was especially wonderful, and i owe her huge thanks for being a beautiful human being and incredible assistant in all sorts of surreal moments throughout my life.)
….and after we finished our foods and musics, and we were too tired to keep the magic alive, we said goodnight.
….we were on our way out the door when ayelet grabbed me by the wedding gown. (i’d left it on but taken the makeup off, because i figured if we were going all out then neil should probably carry me across the threshold of the hotel room in the dress. it’d be fun, right? it kind of was).
she told me rosie had wanted me to come up and say goodnight to her, to wake her up and say goodbye, even if she’d already passed out. which she had.
so i went up to her room and tiptoed my way through the dark to her little bed. she was fast asleep, looking like a tuckered-out angel. my life fairly flashed before my eyes in that moment. like the opposite of dying; i saw everything i knew fall away and vanish as i found myself in that bed, with my own six-year old head resting on that pillow, knowing nothing, worrying the worries and wondering the wonders and having the dreams that 6-year olds have, before things stopped making sense, before i’d ever had my heart broken and sewn back together with shaky hands, before i’d ever broken any hearts myself with careless and stupid flicks of the wrist, before i had a head full of ideas and theories about love and relationships.
before i’d ever even considered believing or not believing in anything.
and she opened her eyes and looked up at me and grinned her little 6-year old sleepy grin, and i leaned over to kiss her goodnight.
there is a santa claus.
i love him, and the story keeps telling itself.