I posted on Monday about my revelations about the Catholic church and how my own confusion kept me from becoming legally able to officiate weddings. I’m still a tiny bit disappointed I couldn’t officiate… BUT, the wedding had to go on!
(Note: This would be a good time for you to stop reading if you don’t believe in marriage equality and don’t want to use this as an opportunity to catch a glimpse of my beliefs, if those we hold are different. This post is about love, not about debate.)
On Wednesday evening, my dear friend Tracey married her partner (now wife!) Becky in the presence of a few close friends, officiated by my husband the “minister.” While they plan to do a destination wedding next year sometime, the official wedding needed to take place this week to help ease complications caused by certain Utah laws.
My friend/co-worker Aimee and I took charge of making sure that even this intimate, quick wedding would hold some special moments. On Tuesday I sent Tracey a text asking “Do you trust me?” and once she said yes, Aimee and I were on our way–choosing music, flowers, cake, and the wording for a short but hopefully meaningful ceremony.
The location they originally wanted to use didn’t work out (fenced of for the winter–what?), so we ended up near a local park at sunset. It was a fortunate change, as the mountains at sunset ended up providing the perfect backdrop for photos of the occasion. Beyond Becky and Tracey, Clint was there to officiate, Aimee stood in as a witness, as did Tracey’s sister Kristen, I took photos, and Aimee’s boyfriend Jason was a great sport who became the official holder of things (speaker/music, signs, flashlight, etc.) It turned out great. The ceremony was short but sweet, and we had time to grab some photos before we totally lost sunlight. We toasted the new couple at the park and then headed to our favorite pizza place in town to meet up with a few other friends to celebrate the occasion together.
It was an awesome night, and I’m SO glad I got to be a part of it. But beyond that, I also had an unexpected realization. As I stood in our little circle of grass (it was like someone had cleared the snow there just for us), I looked around and realized that in a totally unexpected way, I’ve built a little circle of family here in Cedar City. I NEVER expected that to happen here–especially when I think of all of the friends who have come and gone over the years. I’ve been resigned to the belief that this is a place of transition and that the longer I stayed, the more people would quickly move in and out of my life.
But on Wednesday night, both at the ceremony and after, I looked around and realized I was surrounded by people who feel like extended family. People who I’d do anything for, and people who would go (and have gone) out of their way to offer help and love in times when I’ve really needed them. We might not be related, and we might be an odd hodgepodge of people from different backgrounds, with different families, with different careers, with different passions, with different dreams… But we’re all connected here, in this place where a sense of belonging is hard to find if you don’t fit the local culture, in a way that’s really kind of beautiful. We fit together in part because we don’t fit in, and I love that.
I love hearing about and being a part of my “family’s” lives. I love watching them fall in love, and I love watching their kids growing and turning into hysterical little people. I love getting to be a part of it all. I tend to shut down and build walls when I lose people–it’s an instinctual reaction that I think will protect me. If I never get close, then I can’t get hurt, right? Except I know that getting close to people is what brings love and meaning to my life. Luckily, there are people in my extended family here who have continued to reach out even when I’ve tried to hide behind my walls.
Nights like Wednesday make me realize what a blessing it is to have friends who don’t let me hide and miss my life. After all, it’s these connections and the love and joy they bring that, in the end, truly make a life.