Let Us Walk Together
I never saw myself getting married.
It’s not that I didn’t see myself falling in love or deciding to spend my life with someone else, but I never had visions of myself picking out a white gown or standing in front of a crowd saying vows. I never saw myself taking on the title of “wife” or calling my love “husband.”
So why get married at all? I won’t lie, I asked myself this question many times. Eric and I have been together almost ten years and we have a deep love - truly, I can’t imagine being with anyone else after all of the adventures that we’ve traversed together. In the end, in a lot of ways, I just didn’t see how getting married would add to our relationship. Married or not, our love would be the same. We’d still be living together, working from home together, lint rolling corgi hair off of our clothes together.
But we’re planners, he and I - always looking forward towards potential speed bumps that might end up in our way. We had a few (very unromantic) discussions about taxes and about health insurance for me, as my 26th birthday was fast approaching and I would no longer be able to tag along with my parents’ plan. And then, shrugging and nodding, we decided that it was finally time.
For a long while, there really wasn’t much excitement for me surrounding the event. Eric either. I guess my family has been saying for years that they thought we’d probably just elope, casual and introverted people that we are - but I knew we’d have some very sad loved ones if we went that route. So last spring we came up with the general idea to get married in an aspen grove, somewhere in the mountains, in early October. But frankly, after deciding that, we didn’t make much more forward progress.
Mid-August with October fast approaching (when we STILL hadn’t laid any concrete plans), my dad had the idea of asking if we could have our wedding up at the ranch my parents’ company renovated the summer before I turned 15. I wrote a little post about that visit here. Long story short, the owner said yes - and we picked a day. October 7. Overnight, my apathy about the whole wedding thing all but disappeared. We were going to get married in one of the most special and, for me, sacred places I know - the meadow, ringed with aspens, where I first found my wings on the back of a horse.
I’m fairly non-traditional and, like I said, the whole wedding dress thing just didn’t feel like ME. But I had a crazy idea that stuck - I decided to knit myself a wedding sweater, with accents in autumn hues, and then pair it with a white vintage skirt. I hadn’t knit in years and I’d NEVER attempted a sweater before - but I ordered some luxurious merino yarn and commenced to knit five or six hours a day for three weeks to get it done.
In this time I also found my skirt (a flowy bohemian creation from the 70’s) and bought a collection of Colorado King’s Manassa stones to fashion into a turquoise necklace. After the sweater was done I set about making rings for Eric and I as well. Our small collection of invited family members RSVP'd and we hemmed and hawed over a menu that would feed fourteen for two days (all meals we would cook in the lodge kitchen with and for our loved ones).
So much of the planning and so many of the details just fell into our laps. I’m a big believer in signs and symbols, so every happy coincidence caused my heart to catch in my throat. A few days before the wedding, my mom and I went up to do a little cleaning and prep at the lodge and, although everyone had said they’d have lost their leaves by the end of September, the aspens were at peak color, painting the mountainsides in dashes and swaths of fire. I’d like to think I’ve seen some beauty in my life, but I’ve NEVER seen anything like it. The trees were waiting to welcome Eric and I and lead us into this next chapter of our lives, I truly believe that.
And if the aspens weren’t enough, one week ago today as we were headed up the canyon for our wedding weekend, we got a sign that still in this moment has me teary. We were finalizing our intentions (which, in our ceremony, replaced vows) when a shape materialized down the road. I was writing, my wild cursive made more untidy by the curving road, while Eric drove. But both of our eyes saw it at once - he thought it was a wolf and I thought maybe fox. But no. As we drove closer, the shape revealed itself.
As a kid, I had all sorts of terrifying dreams about mountain lions. They stalked me in the dark, tried to find me as I ran through my house trying to hide. And I’d wake, shaking in the night - too afraid to go back to sleep.
There was also this picture, perhaps at the Denver Zoo, that a family of tourists had taken while visiting Colorado. In the photo, a woman holds a child who points over her shoulder towards the bushes. The story goes that no one except the boy saw the yellow eyes peeking out from between the leaves until the photos were developed. What a shock that must have been! So I found that I was not only afraid of mountain lions that would visit me in sleep but also those that might be watching me while I was out exploring the wilds as well.
I think this fear sat with me until my freshman year of college, when I got my first job at a Southwestern jewelry store. On two separate occasions, two different Native American men came into the shop and, unprompted, told me that my spirit animal was a mountain lion. At first felt quite unhappy about this - for how could my psychic tormenter also be my protector? Couldn’t I be a raven or a deer or a bear? But, curious me, I did a bunch of research and looked into the symbolism of this animal. The qualities it represented. And you know what? Those strangers were right - I’m a mountain lion through and through.
After having this moment of enlightenment, I realized the dreams that had haunted me were calls to find myself. To let in the truths, both good and bad, and accept myself fully for who I am. And since, I have hoped I’d someday see one of the big cats in the wild. Sightings of them are rare - for they are secretive animals and it is a gift when they let themselves be seen. I never would have guessed I’d see one mid-morning. In the middle of an empty highway. The day before our wedding.
I mean, seriously - if that’s not a sign that I was EXACTLY where I was meant to be in that moment, then I don’t know what is.
The next day, Sunday, we tied the knot. The rain held off during our five minute ceremony where we exchanged words, rings, and gorgeous wool blankets. And then a steady drizzle added beautiful color and moodiness to the landscape as we tromped through the property to our favorite spots for pictures. We didn’t mind a bit - rain on a wedding day is lucky.
It was beautiful, friends - so beautiful that I’m almost ashamed for being such a pill about planning the whole wedding thing in the first place. Maybe our love is still the same as it was before we said the words, made all of the promises (spoken and unspoken). Maybe we’re still living together, working from home together, lint rolling corgi hair off of our clothes together. But we are better for this shared experience. We are better for having the courage to stand together, now and forever.
And to end this post, as we ended our ceremony - a poem by my favorite poet, Mary Oliver.
“How I Go to the Woods”
Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.
As you may or may not know, I normally take all of my own pictures (yes, even the ones of myself - I’m a very accomplished selfie taker!) - but I figured our wedding day was a good day to make an exception!! Many, many thanks to Becky Young for capturing so many special moments for us - each is a treasure!