Three years ago, I did something I thought I would never do. I got married.
I met Lieve less than two months after the end of the world. There was certainly no reason to get involved in a relationship, particularly with a woman who had two teenagers and lived in New Jersey. New Jersey? They don’t even have enough sense to pump their own gasoline over there. I had been married in New Jersey, twice, and neither of those relationships ended well.
It turned out that Lieve wasn’t really from New Jersey, just passing through. And she had the most beautiful smile. And she made me laugh, when I couldn’t remember what laughter was.
We were puzzle pieces, our eccentricities complementing each other, making each other whole.
We married just a few months after we met, in the bitter cold of a December day in Philadelphia. Initially we had considered doing it next to the LOVE statue in center city, but decided on the less crowded and less windy venue of Magic Gardens, a sculpture garden (really just one big sculpture) created by Isaiah Zagar. We both enjoyed Isaiah’s work, seen throughout Philadelphia.
It took a bit of work convincing everyone that Quaker weddings are in fact legal. There is no clergy involved, and the involvement of the state is limited to issuing the license. You can only obtain a Quaker license if you live in Ohio or Pennsylvania, so as a resident of Philadelphia I was able get the license and we performed the ceremony within the state of Pennsylvania.
A Quaker wedding requires that the two participants promise to love each other, the state requires two witnesses, so we all met at Magic Gardens and picked a spot. The staff was friendly, and even though we told everyone they could stay in the section we chose we were left alone. Isaiah walked through the lobby as we were preparing but had other commitments. I don’t think anyone else realized the entire ceremony would take just over a minute.
After the ceremony we all went over to Monk’s, a Belgian cafe, for mussels, frites, and beers.
Our honeymoon was a few weeks later, we flew into Frankfurt Germany during the worst storm in forty years and spent Christmas Eve working our way through a series of cancelled and rerouted trains (made easier by the lack of luggage) to Leuven. We arrived in a deserted and snow covered town, and I woke Christmas morning in Lieve’s childhood bedroom.
No honeymoon lasts forever, but everyday we spend together is a gift, a reminder that hope springs eternal.