Happiness is only real when shared

When my guy and I first met, we’d both just left long-term marriages and we were edgy about commitment.

The first time Joe tried to kiss me, just before our lips made contact, I put my hand on his chest to stop him and said, “It’s too weird.”

I fled from his car.

Within seconds I was on the phone with a girlfriend, and without taking breath or break, explained my trepidation, my idiocy. “Call him,” she advised, “Tell him you want a mulligan.”

Because I don’t understand golf, she had to advise me on that, too.

Joe’s phone wasn’t working. He could hear voicemails, but not receive or make calls. “I’m an idiot,” I said breathlessly into the phone, “I want a do-over.”

(To my chagrin, almost 7 years later, Joe has saved this message. Occasionally he hits the speaker button on his phone and my voice comes across time from that fateful Thursday night in our history.)

Even though I requested a do-over, I also requested no sudden moves, to which Joe agreed.

I wouldn’t let Joe kiss for me five weeks.

In spite of flowers, late-night movies snuggled up on his newly purchased couch in his rented divorce apartment, candlelit dinners, and nights spent listening to him play guitar, it was five weeks.

But then we kissed. Oh, and we kissed. And kissed. In fact, we made out like teenagers.

He said it first

He told me he loved me first. He kept telling me even though I didn’t say it back. I’d say, “I’m crazy about you.”

A couple weeks after he first told me he loved me, and me not returning those words, Joe was to get on a plane. A guys’ trip to the Caribbean. Dark thoughts of crazy vacation deaths spun through my head. His plane going down à la LOST, him diving from a cliff and his spine snapping, a shark encounter in the sea. I wouldn’t want him not knowing I did indeed love him.

So, I told him. Of course I told him.

A second chance at love

We were in love, we said, but without destination. After all, we only spent every other weekend together, somehow getting our parenting weekends to jibe. We both bought houses not thinking we’d even get to the point of wanting to live together.

It crept up on us. We did want to live together. We wanted to be together all the time. Taking parenting seriously, though, we waited. I had made a promise to my kiddo that I wouldn’t make life-altering moves until he graduated from high school. And really, Joe and I were committed to each other, we knew that.

The how and when and why we made the decision to get married escapes me. We love each other deeply and somehow making it legal brought to our relationship a sense of legitimacy, made it more real.

We chose a ring. A stunning ring with a stone that looks like trapped sea water. And Joe delivered a proposal to beat all proposals.

Worth the wait

We thought about flying off to a far-away island, which is what many people our ages do, but decided we want those important to us to be present. We’d save the far-away island for the honeymoon.

The wedding planning began. I had a dress designed and made from French silk that reminded me of the color of champagne. We asked a college friend to be ordained so she could perform our wedding ceremony. Friends, Kiddo, and Joe gathered for band rehearsals for the wedding celebration. More friends and my mom helped with wedding decorations. My circle of girls surprised me with a bridal soirée. A couple weeks later, we took Joe to a strip club in Canada for a bachelor party and laughed and blushed our way through several girls taking it all off.

Those months leading up to our wedding, and all of the planning, were full of fun and anticipation. On top of all the time Joe and I dated, we had a 15-month engagement.

Those final weeks before the wedding, we’d sold both our houses, moved, Kiddo graduated from high school, we had a party for Kiddo to celebrate his milestone, we worked, we unpacked, we had some family drama, we planned the last details of the wedding.

When our wedding day finally arrived last June, it was met with a sense of surrealism, and quite possibly a touch of fatigue.

What I remember most about our wedding, besides love, so much love, is a sense of deep connection with Joe. I also remember how Joe and I held hands, and I cried when Kiddo opened the ceremony by singing and playing guitar. I remember how our friend and officiant’s voice shook just a bit as she said our vows and asked us to repeat after her – then Joe cried a little, too.

In my memory, the late afternoon sun warmed our skin, the blue sky swam over us, and the river moved quietly and steadily beside us. Those we love gathered around Joe and me. We arrived at our destination. And our happiness was real because it was shared.

A year later, I look back on my and Joe’s wedding day and honeymoon still with full heart and sense of deep connection. How about a look with me? Here are some of my favorite moments.