of Galen and Bruce at Lake Tahoe, Sept 7, 2003
Galen's retelling of our wonderful experience..
Sometimes, for reasons one can neither explain nor deny, it is simply Time to do something wonderful. Something one has perhaps longed to do, hoped to do, even tried to plan to do, that one suddenly, joyfully, does.
On Sunday, September 7, 2003, at 3:30 in the afternoon in D.L. Bliss State Park in Lake Tahoe, California, Galen and Bruce got married.
We'd been to Burning Man the week before, so maybe that explains it. Lots of dust and not much sleep can do things to the brain. But how to explain the sudden lifting up of the heart? so that after trying to make a Sensible Plan For The Future for the last few years, with no warning, on the same day, Bruce and I looked at each other and said: You know, we could get married today, or tomorrow, or at any rate this week -- and then did.
At Burning Man, way way way out in the desert (even for Burning Man), an insanely inspired young friend of ours, J. M. Valera, vowed to and did in fact create The Loudest Sound System ever to hit the playa. We found our way to it very late one night, and behind its throbbing stage was an enormous circus trapeze. Huge. Lit. With circus performers, firedancers and what looked like just folks leaping into the air and catching -- or not catching -- each other at the last split-second.
The next night, I had a dream: of an enormous trapeze, just like the one in the desert, but this time, a tiny little bride dressed in a white wedding dress, and a tiny little groom dressed in black tux, tails and top hat, launched themselves into the air from opposite sides of the trapeze in perfect arcs against the bright blue sky, and caught each other just in time. Then another tiny bride and tiny groom leapt into the air and caught each other and another and another .and I woke up thinking: So that's how it works when it works. So that's why people do it. Lovely leap of faith, that. Time to get married.
A few hours later, sitting in Bliss State Park in our tiny motorhome, Bruce got a funny look on his face and said to me: You know, we could get married today. Or tomorrow. I know, I told him. I had this dream .Way ahead of me, as usual, he said.
Only I wasn't -- I was right there with him, and he with me. You don't get synchronicity every day, though you hope for it and you try. When you do, it feels so good to let it take you where you've been wanting to go all along.
So we drove around in the rain (with bad colds, no less!) looking at wedding spots -- Little Chapel on the Ponderosa, anyone? even I had to pass on that -- found the Reverend Lucie through the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, and spent two afternoons with her getting "spiritual counseling." Then we drove to the beach across the street, which Lucie had assured us was a Sacred Place, to imagine our future. In front of us the sky flamed red and gold: a magnificent sunset over the lake. Behind us, a storm gathered; the sky, half grey and half white, flew together, and at the center, just as the rain started to fall on us, a rainbow soared up out of nowhere -- and as it grew brighter, out of the heart of the rainbow flashed lightning. Twice. And you thought Life on the Farm was dull.
This little bit of revelatory Nature so blew our minds and opened our hearts that we sat on a rock in Emerald Bay all day Saturday laughing and crying and thanking each other for every imaginable real thing.
Saturday evening in the growing dark we drove back to Bliss State Park to find it full! -- it had been empty all that post-Labor Day week -- except for, silly miracle, the Chaplain's spot, vacated, a few days before, by the Summer Chaplain. Park there, suggested the Park Ranger, sticking a note that said "Chaplain" on the windshield of our motorhome.
Let's see getting married tomorrow don't have a wedding spot yet and now we're in the Chaplain's spot in Bliss. Right.
So when the Reverend Lucie and her faithful dog arrived the next afternoon at 2:30 PM, we strolled up the hill through the now-empty-again Bliss Park to our favorite spot under the trees overlooking the lake, and called in the Four Directions and all those we love who love us, living and passed over, and thanked and celebrated them and each other.
Then we walked back to our motorhome, drew the curtains for privacy, lit the pig-shaped candles on our altar, summoned Little Bear and the various pig witnesses to attention (they'd all come to Burning Man as part of Church of Sow Camp, and were happy to do double duty as witnesses, and anyway, we were getting a "Confidential License" of a kind offered to pregnant teens and peculiar middleagers in El Dorado County, both Nevada and California, that requires no human witnesses), and said our vows right there in the motorhome in the Chaplain's spot.
Some we'd written (at Lucie's suggestion, a litany of here is what I appreciate about you, here is what I thank you for, and here is what I bring to you -- an exercise I highly recommend) and some we cribbed from various Lucie-provided services (we found the Service for Seniors the most relevant and moving, so there ya have it; those Seniors have a handle on Mature Love). As we got to the Really Big Part, Lucie's dog heaved a sweet sigh and laid herself across both of our feet while we promised each other a lot of loving things it felt very easy and genuine and natural to promise.
And then the Reverend Lucie smiled broadly and said: "You may now call yourselves by those ancient and honorable names: husband and wife" -- and I was thinking: oh come on, says who? some nice woman and her dog? and then I realized I had burst into tears and so had Bruce and we were hanging onto each other for dear life, and I know it's corny, but they really were tears of relief and joy, just like in my favorite old movies.
And that's how we still feel, ten whole days in: relieved and overjoyed. And that's how our families and friends seem to feel, those few we've already told: joyful, and relieved, even. It feels great to be so happy and to feel it coming right back at us. If I'd known it would make everybody so happy, I would have gotten married .uh .exactly when and how I did. It's SO nice to do something very spontaneous and a little weird and completely heartfelt and not at ALL like you'd pictured it semi-obsessively for decades and have it turn out to be just the right thing to do and way do to it AND person to do it with. Unplanned perfection -- what a concept.
We want to mention something sad and important. Driving from Burning Man on our way to Lake Tahoe, we got a phone call from our friend Bob Gelman, telling us of the seemingly incredibly untimely death of Leanne Milano, wife of my friend Dominic Milano. Leanne and Dominic met and fell in love instantly when they were fifteen years old, married not too many years later, had three children, stayed together through all these years. A few months ago, Leanne got mysteriously sick. She was undergoing tests, Dominic left to drive their youngest child to college in Oregon .and Leanne went unconscious and died. Dominic wrote email: I have lost my reason for living, my soulmate, my friend, my lover, my wife .and reading it, I thought, how many years do we have, really? And this living one foot in and one foot out of complete commitment to whatever it is we love, well, how smart is that? And far be it from me, with the zeal of the newly etc., to preach the values of braving commitment, but let me just say I love being married, especially to Bruce. And I hope we get years and years, but whatever happens, I'm glad I'm married to him today. Thank you, Leanne.
We drove home, told the pigs and cats we'd gotten married -- they are delighted, and if possible, even more relieved than our parents -- unpacked, took our first shower in two weeks (better living through filth, I always say), and repacked -- not for our honeymoon, but rather for separate, long-planned trips: me to New Jersey to sing in my world music band, and Bruce to Zurich and Islamabad on business. Anticipated absence makes the heart grow fonder? I do like saying: My husband is in Zurich .not because I'm glad he's thousands of miles away, but because I'm glad he's my husband, wherever he is, and YES, I miss him and can't wait to swoon all over him in the San Francisco Airport in a few weeks.
Thank you, each of you, for helping teach me about love. Hopefully I've learned something and will apply it to my marriage which will stay strong and happy and growing for the rest of my life. I know: that's what every bride wants. So I'm every bride. And I'm married. To Bruce. Hooray!!
Questions you have actually asked us since you heard:
1. I know -- you dropped acid at Burning Man, right?
No, not as far as we know. Come to think of it: Lorenzo, just what was in that "water" you gave us?
2. Are you going to sign up with a bridal registry so we can give you matching china?
Yes and no. We are not particularly into matching china, and to the extent that we are, Bruce's Mum, a very gifted potter, has already given us a set of matching plates that we love and use. We ARE into fences and flooring. Therefore we are going to register with Home Depot, a store we love and frequent, and which actually has a bridal registry for fools like us. With luck, we will walk around and on our wedding gifts for years to come.
3. You've been living together forever. So it doesn't feel any different, right?
Wrong. Don't know why and don't care why, but it feels completely different and mysteriously, deliriously, much better. Go figure.
4. Are you going to change your name?
I doubt it. But you never know. After that rainbow/lightning business, anything's possible.
5. Aren't you getting, well, rather old for this sort of thing?
I'll be 50 on November 10th. My husband is younger than I am, so while I'm old enough to know better, luckily he isn't.
6. Are you wearing A Ring?
You bet. With diamonds, even. Bruce gave it to me in February in Spain, thinking it was an engagement ring. Turns out it was a wedding ring in design, and now, in fact. I'm wearing it with my grandmother's engagement ring. Makes me happy every time I look at them.
7. Are you always
8. This "Confidential
Marriage License" -- is it legal?
9. Are you giving
up your house in New Jersey? Are you going to stop singing? Are we still
10. With Mars and Mercury both in retrograde, and all this crazy energy floating around, I bet you suddenly felt like you just HAD to do it, right?
Exactly -- cf
that rainbow/lightning business again. And if that means the whole cosmos
is behind us, great. Hey, we're from Santa Cruz. We believe in cosmic
signs and wonders.
Last, but not
Be well, be happy, and beloveds, please stay in touch.
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