Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lucky in Iowa, Or How I got Married.

I never thought I would be legally married, never.  But I am in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, District of Columbia, and Iowa.  How you might ask did such a thing happen?  Well sit back and let me tell you a story.  A good story about love, luck, and a trip to the great state of Iowa.

Wednesday my much beleaguered life partner, Natalie, called from Washington D C and said, "Since we both have Friday off, what do you want to do?"  Granted it wasn't just any old Friday but Friday, March 4, which has the distinction of being my birthday.  My 45th birthday if you are counting.  And if you are counting, the last two years my birthdays have been days marked by grief.  I wanted to do something special, something memorable, something to mark the change of luck in my life.  I really can't fully explain why, but as soon as I heard this question I only had one answer.

"Let's go to Iowa and get married,"  I said.

I heard Natalie say, "B...b...B..."  Silence and then, "We will talk about this later."

Later came and after much discussion (we are lesbians after all and nothing is ever decided without much processing), reflection, and a text message at 4:50 am eastern standard time that read, "Yes.  Why don't we go to Iowa and get married?  I love you." We decide to do the deed. 

But sometimes it takes a village or in this case a very persistent co-worker to make a wedding happen in 48 hours.  The great state of Iowa has rules for a marriage certificate and some counties are not as compliant as others.  Hurdle number one is the need for a justice of the peace in Iowa to do the joining.  Hurdle number two is the need for a witness that knows both parties.  Hurdle number three the three day waiting period before you can get married (so not giving Natalie the opportunity to change her mind).

Hurdle number two was easy my mom was enlisted to be our witness.  Hurdles one and three were a little more significant.  Thanks to the powers of google and fellow library assistant, Kim, it can be done.  After failing with one county to get the desired answers, she and I looked until we found my new favorite county in Iowa, Johnson County.  In the county seat of Iowa City, Iowa we found a Recorder of Deeds who had a great web page and the helpful suggestion of how to get pass the three day rule plus a list of judges and phone numbers.  A few calls and a few squeals later a plan was laid.  It was Iowa or bust.
 Friday morning with my mother (and her white mini-van) in tow we hopped on highway 61 and headed north.  I will admit to you my friends, I was positively simmering over with excitement.  I know my two favorite ladies in the world (mom and Natalie) were ready to make me ride on the roof to get me to shut up.  However, happiness brooks no deterrent, so they suffered my gushing patter on the four and half hour drive to Iowa City with no incident. 

The very awesome Carrie

We hit the administrative building at about 11:30 am central standard time like kids hitting the gate at Disneyland.  Our clerk's name was Carrie and she was everything you don't expect from a civil servant.  She was cheerful, helpful, and downright giddy to help us achieve the goal of getting us married on my birthday.  The day truly was a group effort with the employees of Johnson County doing most of the work.  Every time we showed up at the recorders office (a total of three times) Carrie was there to make our dream come true. 

This trip also required three trips to the county court house too, an awesome old building with old woodwork, vintage tile,  beautiful stained glass, and stairs, lots of stairs.  We met an amazing bailiff named Sue who made sure everyone knew we needed extra attention.  Sue kept the machinery of county bureaucracy moving for us.  By 2:00 pm central standard time Natalie and I were spouse and spouse. 

Judge Karen performed a beautiful and simple service, which I cried through.  We exchanged our wedding rings we bought for each other in 1992 and kissed in front of Judge Karen, Sue, and my mother.  Hugs went all the way around the court room and there it was we were after so many years MARRIED.  On our last trip to the Recorder's Office we picked up the actual Marriage Certificate and I said to Carrie, "I am so excited."

Carrie gave me a smile and said, "Do you think?"  I just can't thank the wonderful civil servants of Johnson County enough for all the help and attention, they truly were my heroes on my wedding day.

Judge Karen, Mom, and the newlyweds

On the four and half hour drive home my beautiful wife (and I mean that when I say it) asked, "Do you feel different?"

I could only say, "Yes, I feel empowered!"  What I didn't say then and I will say now, I feel lucky.  Lucky Natalie would have me.  Lucky my mother was with me.  And very lucky we live close enough to make it to Iowa in a day to get married.  I wish all non-traditional couple could be this lucky.


Charade said...

Congratulations! What a lovely "milestone" story.

ariel said...

Congratulations many times over! So excited for you to not only be married, but like you said to have someone you love to marry you, that is a wonderful feeling :)

ps- The sap in me teared up reading this.

Tempest ina Pot of Tea said...

Thank you, I am still smiling and randomly using the word wife.