Today, I got up bright and early–too early for comfort, considering that I didn’t get to bed til well after 2 am–and Jo and I walked downtown to the county clerk’s office to apply for our marriage license. We were unreasonably nervous (“what if they say no because we’re both girls? “what if my divorce certification isn’t enough”) but in the end we weren’t faced with ANY challenges or even disapproving glances, only with a bank of computers with instructions for entering our application. After submitting it, we went up to the window to pay. Come January 1st, we will be legal to get hitched.
Yup. It was THAT easy.
While talking to the clerk, we learned that we could be married right there in a (very minimal, very non-intimidating) civil ceremony for only about $100 by someone who loves performing weddings so much that she will often “squeeze in a few more” even though she’s only obligated to do two per day (between the hours of 9:30 – 10:30 am, M-F). As we were still undecided as to the logistics, the clerk wrapped things up and sent the paperwork home with us–at which point the marriage officiant, as if summoned, suddenly appeared, and a middle aged man and woman materialized at the sight of her.
“Have you found any witnesses yet?” she asked them.
They admitted they had not (everyone they knew had conflicting schedules)–at which point she turned towards us, chipper as a bright-eyed squirrel. “Maybe THESE good people would help you out?” she offered.
The county clerk leapt on this. “Oh yes! Then you’d get to see how we do it here!”
Well, what could we say? Ten minutes of our time seemed like an incredible opportunity for a free dose of good karma–especially since we might very well find ourselves in a similar predicament should one or both of our slated witnesses somehow fail to appear.
“Well, we’re already here,” Jo allowed. “We’d be happy to!”
And downstairs we trudged, to the break room (since apparently the actual marriage room was currently being used).
It didn’t take long at all. The couple had been married before, then divorced from each other to marry other people, then divorced again from those people, and now getting married again to each other. The officiant asked them if they wanted brief, or “super brief.” They opted for the latter, and were each asked point-blank whether they took the other as husband/wife. They both said “yes.” The officiant then turned to ask us whether we, in sight of this exchange, now accepted them as husband and wife. We said yes. The officiant said “Well, in view of your yesses, you are married now!” We congratulated them and went on our way, to breakfast at Starbucks. (A treat from Jo’s brother and his wife, soon to be my inlaws.)
And that was it. It was so simple, and yet so powerful. And I realized that–just as simply, and just as powerfully–we too will be married, very soon. And this woman who has been my support, my confidant, and my best friend for going on fifteen years will soon be my wife.
What a simple thing, and yet what a magical thing.
We decided, nearly on the spot, to also have a civil ceremony right there in the county clerk’s office next month. A friend of hers and a friend of mine will both serve witness. We tell ourselves nothing will change–but, however simple, this is an archetypal ritual, a magical act. Its weight cannot be underestimated.
I witnessed, today, how true that is.