Emotion Checking


The second ceremony I officiated was published today. Which had been one of the purposes of the whole thing, to get published. So in that respect, their marriage was now official.

A close friend of the couple (who also served as James’s best man) officiated the ceremony. “He crafted a beautiful presentation on how we met, what we love about each other, and how we both individually view marriage and the commitment we are making,” Vicky says. “I think I had a smile plastered on my face the entire ceremony.”

It was an editorial piece,designed to sell some ideas about love and that chic experience of exotic intimacy. It was suprising to relive the highlights of those three days from this third party narrative, and I couldn’t help notice that it glossed over — edited out — the real emotional content of the experience.

The bride quotes sounded like Vicky. The groom quotes also sounded like Vicky.

The details missing were, I thought, the more interesting stories. The five am taxi ride. The bathtub conversations. The silent family members. The hospital visit. The skinny dipping at the last song. The drama. All of the french fries and orders of milk. The fact that I hadn’t even checked if the jacket fit when I picked it up from the dry cleaners, or that if it even was my jacket. It wasn’t exactly a piece that was easily or intentionally fact checked — and I’m curious now if fact checking would even approximate that form of accuracy. Were emotions facts — or just opinions?

I’ve always thought, though, after having experienced all of the sides of a wedding (except for the cooking food part and the getting married part) that a real long story about the wedding, from a real writer of words, maybe ten or twenty thousand words, that would really be the thing you’d want to have. Or I’d want to have, at least. The piece above was a start, a version of that, but whatever it lacked, whatever it commercialized in its voicing and rewriting, I ought to pay attention to that in my own storytelling, too. What parts am I always leaving out?

It was a small ceremony and therefore a very small audience providing not quite enough feedback, if that was even the thing to be paying attention to, as well. While I was standing up there, performing twenty-five hundred words, I just couldn’t tell how it was going. Maybe because the nuts and bolts of the ceremony, the official parts, I’d read aloud in public before.

Their story, when I reflected back on it afterwards as the sun set a bit too quickly, had been unique. And everyone afterwards, all twenty of them, said how much they loved it. They written no vows, as Vicky worried that James would have written his in algebraic equations and talked about euclidean geometry. So I listened to what they had to say about each other, and tried to speak from their points of view.

The spark of fate struck James + Vicky in Ohio, on a September day, having locked eyes across the gym. Vicky remembers James decked out head to toe in ironman gear, and thinking he was either totally into himself, or a huge nerd. It was very much the later. They didn’t speak that first day, but Vicky thought “wow, look at that face, I need to make babies with him.” Eventually they did chat, and after spending a bit of time together both in and out of the gym, James said “One day, something seemed to click. We were talking more and more. Randomly texting about things. I guess you could say it was a snowball effect from there.”

Like so many of the crazy, wonderful, spectacular changes in life, their love first grew slowly, and then all at once.

James, eventually no longer in that minor complication of being in a relationship with someone else, says “Vicky was probably a bit more scheming in the beginning – I didn’t really know what was going on. Once I realized that she was serious, it was ‘game on’”. James drove to DC, somewhat secretly over a weekend, to visit. They had rooftop margaritas, and after sneaking downstairs into the back of house at Loreal Plaza, stole their first kiss. Basically, in the kitchen. Appropriate, right? For Vicky it was quote “the best first kiss, ever.”

Which I imagine saved the kitchen staff from what would have otherwise been a serious lecture or two on plating and presentation. Instead, it was a lesson in romance. They stayed up all night talking. James drove back to Ohio and immediately upon arriving home, booked a return flight to DC.

For the next day.

On the weekends when James wasn’t flying to and from Ohio, and then also on the days that weren’t weekends, they were inseparably connected on their phones via Facetime and phone calls. They hated being apart. At night, they had to make sure to plug their phones in first before falling asleep over speakerphone or video. And then in the morning, Vicky says “I would hear rustling around, and James would gently wake me up, to say I love you. It was really effing cute.”

The snowball grew. James sold everything and moved to DC. They went on adventures, both foreign and domestic. There was the success and craziness of the growing Heirloom business.

And then, all at once, their balanced adventure duo became a trio. James says that “having a child is like having a business and a partnership. There was a time when Maddox was the youngest person in the world. How do we guide him through the world? It’s as much a learning experience for you as it is for the baby. It is this team that you have to create. You can’t always be the CEO, someone has to be the CEO. Ego can’t be hurt by being told what to do; it’s all about raising Maddox. Everything outside of the family is trivial. It puts everything into perspective. Things we fought about or the stuff we used to care about didn’t really matter anymore. Vicky comes across as a very independent, strong-willed person. But seeing her with Maddox and this new human being in our life has opened me to recognize this additional depth to her, and without seeing her now as a mother, I wouldn’t have understood that about her.”

While being the CEO of Maddox, Inc. Vicky says she’s “learned that James values the simple things in life. He doesn’t want life or work to be overcomplicated. He just wants to simply be. And, well, I want ‘More More More’, all the time. I’m surprised by how James loves me, regardless of all of my craziness and thoughts and stress. He’s just there, no matter what. And I hope that he continues to recognize that I love him unconditionally and can be one-hundred percent himself around me.”

When James proposed to Vicky, underneath a Pacific Northwest Ferris Wheel and Maddox in her arms, Vicky says, “the feeling was very humbling. no matter what you think it’s supposed to be, in the moment, with Maddox there, the meaning was amplified. We’ve already been a family and been through so much, and we are choosing to do this not based on the imagined future, but having already created a family.”

For James, “marrying Vicky is a comfort thing. And I don’t mean in it that we are comfortable roommates. Marrying her is giving me the feeling of home. She provides the element of everything is going to be okay, this is life, this is good. “

For Vicky,  “Marriage means a partnership, going through life together and having your person there no matter what – you both have your own stories, and you work to make them grow and take their own path, but it’s a shared path.”

I’d given Vicky a little directorial note, that when I asked James to say “I Do” she could jump in with a “He Does.”

But what neither of us had talked about, or she had even planned, was ad-libbing:

“For richer and richer.”


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