I've been with him for three years, He's lived with me in St. Albans for two years. We have two dogs, a house, a yard. We're already a married couple in just about every respect.
So why bother today tying the knot, officially, complete with a marriage license and a beautiful ceremony that Jeff designed?
|Me and Jeff clowning around in a blueberry patch|
Because any time a couple is as commited, and as in love as we are, any time a couple knows their relationship is forever and is a million times stronger than the tungsten wedding rings we'll wear, you have to make a public statement. It's that important. It's a touchstone for people. Times are bad, bad things happen around the world every day, every minute it seems.
What we're telling people is love conquers all. Our marriage is a shield against all that bad that can happen. Our marriage is our strength, and that strength spreads over into the family and friends that are so important to us, and who are of course in town for today's wedding.
I met Jeff three years ago. Our first face to face meeting was at a TGI Fridays. OK, it wasn't a romantic evening at the Eiffel Tower or something, but it was a start.
The first couple of minutes were awkward, but then we were laughing, relaxing, fitting well together, connecting. I'd been lonely. This felt good.
Jeff jumped right into the relationship. I was much slower. At first I resisted the pull of a deep connection. I was too proud of my independence, I told myself. Too unready for complications. Deep down, what was really going on is I was too afraid this would work out.
You see, I've always lived by the adage that if it's too good to be true, it probably is. And I found that being with Jeff did seem too good to be true. Still does. We laugh all the time. We cried together when his beloved dog Rocky died. We support each other. When one of us has a bad day, we make each other feel better. It just feels so right.
But there was that "too good to be true" cliche nagging at me as the relationship between Jeff and me grew. The other shoe would drop, the red flags would appear. The happiness I was finding would be a mirage and I would get hurt. Again.
No shoes fell. No red flags appeared. Jeff was, is, a glowing exception to the "too good to be true" rule.
Because he is true. Genuine. Honest. You can trust him. With your life. That's what I find most important, most endearing about Jeff.
He is my life now. The trust I have in him is what makes me know I'll be OK whatever happens. I hope he feels the same toward me.
Over the Christmas holidays last December, Jeff went to South Dakota to see his family. I stayed here in Vermont and visited my family. He came back right around New Year's Day. My proposal was simple. On the evening of January 2, he was in his easy chair, watching TV. I interrupted him. I got down on one knee, pulled out a ring and said, "Would you marry me?"
We both cried. And laughed a lot. Again.
I knew he would say yes. Jeff was certainly hinting enough he was ready for marriage. But nonetheless, a huge wave of relief washed over me when he said "Yes." We were officially a team. It's funny how two people so connecting like we are have the emotional, moral, loving strength of 200 people, not two.
Jeff is nationally known in the theatre world as a highly respected scenic designer. He had ideas for the ceremony in his head for a long time, you could tell. I won't yet give away how the marriage ceremony will work. It's very theatrical, of course. It will take place in the beautiful Royall Tyler Theatre at the University of Vermont this afternoon.
Jeff built the set, the script, pretty much all aspects of the ceremony himself. He's paid attention to so much detail for this. It really symbolizes how much he pays attention to me and our love. It makes me feel so safe. A good feeling to have, let me tell ya. And in return, I will live each second of the rest of my life stoking, nuturing, growing my love for Jeff. I don't need an official wedding vow to say that.
Jeff's very extended family is in town for the wedding. They're mostly from the Midwest. It's overwhelming trying to keep all the names straight. I've been meeting most of them for the first time these past few days. I can certainly see where Jeff gets his honesty, his sky-high character, his compassion, his groundedness. And the family is damn fun. They laugh a lot, too. Just llike me. So I think this is a good fit.
Marrying into this family is another stroke of awesome luck for me, if I haven't had enough already. I'm honored to be marrying into this family, that is for sure. I'm making a commitment to Jeff today, of course. But I'm also making a commitment to his family. It's my duty and deep pleasure to honor, love and respect them too. And I'm looking forward to it. Even if I'm not quite used to be called "Uncle Matt " yet. I'll get there.
This is a same sex marriage, obviously. It's legal in Vermont, but not yet in most states, but I think that will change. I get it that some people's religious beliefs don't condone this. But the God I believe in doesn't make mistakes.
He didn't make a mistake making me and Jeff gay. And neither of us chose to be gay, notwithstanding what some social conservatives might tell you. It's part of who we are. It doesn't make us better or worse than we otherwise would be. Being gay just happens. But being good people is a choice. Honoring, respecting and loving each other and those around us is a choice. A damn good choice. Joining in a marriage is a choice. It's exactly the right choice. For us. And I think for everyone around us.
If there is a good, righteous God, He did not make a mistake bringing Jeff and me together for this marriage. Marriage is a right and a responsibility. Jeff and I have the responsibility to keep our love growing, to make our trust grow and spread, to show the world that love indeed conquers all.
Jeff and me are up to the challenge, and we can't wait to start.