We were standing under a tree, the light filtering down through the leaves creating an almost green haze around us. Shadows danced around us as we stood there, still just enthralled with staring at each other. The courthouse next to us cast a dark shadow that cut across the grass, the trees, and the sidewalks. Around us cars were slowly making their way down the streets. A man ambled down the road walking his dog. Life was going on all around us, but for us, time had stopped. My eyes were fixed solely on him. I could see the joy and weariness in his face. It had been a long week, but, the pinnacle had been reached.
The air was crisp, but not so cool as to feel cold when the wind blew. The sun was warm on my shoulders. My dress brushed against my bare legs every time I took a step or a gentle wind blew. His hands were warm and firm in mine. We’d been clasping our hands together for the past 15 minutes. I could feel the callouses on his palms, rough against my hands.
I could hear traffic around us, dogs barking, children playing – the true sounds of small-town America on a Tuesday afternoon. Lives were continuing, no pause, no notice to the events taking place under the tree by the courthouse. The click of a camera, followed shortly by the electronic whine of it processing the image just captured, came every few seconds as we stood there. The blurry murmurs of our few friends blocked out as if we were in a dream trance. The words we had just spoken crashed inside my head, blocking out all else. The I wills were still echoing in my head and in my heart. The import of what we had done was balanced by the I love you on his lips.
The day even smelled like summer – warm, green, the pastel scent of the flower beds wafting lazily on the breeze. Closer and more immediate were the mixed smells of perspiration and cologne. His cologne strong and bold, my own perfume barely noticeable to my desensitized nose.
All of it is crystal clear in my mind. From waking up at 0430 to tell him goodbye as he headed out to work and my nerves keeping me from ever sleeping again. Nerves of excitement over the events unfolding. Nerves of fear that he wouldn’t be able to get off of work in time. I had given up on sleep around 0800 and spent the rest of the morning making phone calls. This had come up so fast and there were so many people who still didn’t know. I spent forever deciding what to wear – the blue or the black. I liked the black dress better even if was inappropriate for the occasion. The excited chatter on the car trip out there. It all faded though as the justice of the peace announced that we were married. What I felt then was pure joy, pure bliss, pure excitement over what we had just done. I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face and neither could he. In the aftermath, I smiled with my whole body and leaned into him. Happy. Complete. Whole. Alive.