Over the weekend pretty much every status update on facebook has been about Valentines day. People going out, people staying in, people who love it, people who hate it. Aaron and I have had two dates in the last week: one involving an overnight stay in a sweet hotel, the other involving delicious chocolate goodness (fair trade and locally made--yeah, that's right). So to celebrate Valentines day would almost seem redundant... NOT! Shoot, Aaron and I will take any excuse to eat good things and turn on the romance. First date, first kiss, first "I love you," birthdays, national holidays, marriage anniversary, wedding anniversary, someone's great aunt Judy and her husband Joe celebrating their 42nd anniversary? Call up the babysitter, let's celebrate the love!
Aaron was quite the romantic when we were dating. Poems, flowers, songs, early morning breakfast on a mountainside, romantic picnic by a flowing creek... you name it, he did it. I, however, was one of those people that didn't like "labels" (I almost didn't let him call me his girlfriend till I realized how silly that would have been), and "please don't waste your money on impractical gifts." His unabashed love for me, though incredibly romantic, tended to embarrass me because I didn't think of myself as one of "those" kind of girls. In other words, I was incredibly stupid. But alls well that ends well, and eventually I came around.
Valentines day has never been all that special to us, if we could spend it with pizza and a movie we were happy enough. It's been since we had kids that we've made more of a deal out of it (like I said, we don't need an excuse to go out, but we'll take any we get). However there is a much bigger deal that goes on that same week: our anniversary! On the 15th we'll have been married for four years! Can you believe it? In some ways it feels shorter, and in other ways it feels much longer.
When we first found out we were pregnant, I was adamant about not moving up the wedding and getting married in the summer as we had planned. But by the time I had moved to Georgia to be with Aaron and we were setting up our home, there was nothing I wanted more than to be married to him. We hadn't set a date yet, but decided we would go ahead and get married legally before having an actual wedding. It was a Friday morning when Aaron called me at work and asked if I'd marry him that afternoon, before our family came in for the weekend. I said yes.
I got off work early and told Aaron I needed to go to the store to get something to wear. We were running late as it was and Aaron didn't understand why I needed to wear something new. Needless to say, this really upset me. I didn't feel the need to wear a white dress or anything like that, but I did want to look kind of nice and I no longer fit any of my kind of nice clothes. Why do I have to spell everything out, why can't he just understand me... So I did what all soon-to-be-brides do and silently let him know I would not be happy if I didn't get my way. As a wise soon-to-be-groom he soon consented without further opposition.
On our way to meet Aaron's mom (our witness) we called the courthouse to make sure we had everything we needed. As it turned out, Athen's courthouse didn't marry people on Fridays. Although it had been a last minute decision, by that point it was something we were determined to make happen, and it had to happen that day. We began calling courthouses in the surrounding towns. Lawrenceville courthouse married people until 4:00 p.m. that afternoon. It was 3:00 p.m. Lawrenceville was about 40 minutes away. We jumped in Linda's car, and as I recall she got us there in record time. To me though, the drive felt endless.
It was a warm, cloudy February day. This little fact of the weather hit me as Linda dropped us off and we made a run for the main doors. Nobody wants to get married on a cloudy day. I knew it was irrelevant, but still it bothered me. It all kind of bothered me. Why were we rushing? It wasn't the fact that I was marrying Aaron. My answer was yes before he even said his proposal. It just wasn't how I had imagined it happening. Wasn't this every little girls dream? It just wasn't how I imagined it...
There wasn't much time to process as we ran throughout the building searching for the right room. We found it just in time, and from the line we could see we weren't the only people desperate to get hitched before the weekend. We had everything in order until... "That'll be $53, cash or check?" We looked at each other. Crap! We had both forgotten our checkbooks and even when Linda arrived we did not have enough cash combined. In fact, we were $1 short. "Sorry..." the lady said, looking more concerned with the clock than our sad predicament. So this was it. All our efforts and this is how it would end. Just then, before we could feel too sorry for ourselves, the couple next to us took pity and handed us a dollar bill. It was one of those triumphant moments you would see in a chick flick. The crowd started clapping and cheering, Aaron wrapped me in his arms, tilted my head and kissed me passionately. Yeah, no. Not really. But we were certainly happy and profusely thanked the couple. We couldn't help but laugh at ourselves and the whole situation as we made our way to the courtroom.
There were two other couples in the courtroom, we all smiled awkwardly at each other. We would forever share this date with them, even though we didn't know them. When it was our turn to approach the judge, we made our way down the aisle together. No music, no flowers, no pews full of friends and family, no long flowy dress, and only a cell phone picture to document. Surprisingly enough, none of that really mattered. I fumbled with my vows through tears, tried to put Aaron's ring on his right hand (which is the wrong hand by the way), and hardly had to wait a moment before we were husband and wife! Out we went, our lives forever changed. The present quickly turning to past, my husband by my side, walking out the door to our future. I have never regretted it, not even for a second. And I'll be honest, by the end of it, I wasn't sure why more people didn't do it that way. A life long reminder of what a wedding is really about: not the dress, the music, lighting, or food. Not even the people, or the money spent/saved. Marriage. Simply two lives united by love and commitment. (And $53 dollars...)
So here's to life, love, and even Valentines day. Because nothing that involves love and chocolate can really be that bad!