How did we get here so quickly?

Was it really more than six months ago that Constantino and I stood atop a tower in the pitch-blackness of an Oregon forest at night, where he asked if I would spend the rest of my life with him, and where I promised he would always have family, have kinship, have home?

Was it really months ago that we told our parents, family, and friends about our engagement, navigating difficult responses and enduring awkward conversations? Those tears, and those anxious evenings, are still so fresh in my mind. Yet even fresher in my heart are the positive responses—the outpouring of love from every corner of our lives, even from people we never imagined would support us. And then there are those magical friends out there, the ones who could tell we needed an extra serving of love, and so they poured and poured and poured until our cups were overflowing, flooding the table, soaking the carpet. We feel so very full.

Two weeks from Saturday Constantino and I will marry.

What a unique and strange season of life it has been, where time runs simultaneously slow and fast, like lightning through molasses; where feelings of every sort pop up unbidden and unexpected, like a game of emotional whack-a-mole; where “already but not yet” is a tantalizing and yet unsatisfying reality, like being in possession of the most beautiful unripe apple. In many ways I feel as if we are already married, and the wedding itself a mere formality.

WHAT A UNIQUE AND STRANGE SEASON OF LIFE IT HAS BEEN...WHERE ‘ALREADY BUT NOT YET’ IS A TANTALIZING AND YET UNSATISFYING REALITY, LIKE BEING IN POSSESSION OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL UNRIPE APPLE.

The last six months have seen an emotional growth spurt for me, and not without growing pains. Marriage, I’ve discovered, is more than a decision about the person with whom you’ll spend your life. Like dominoes, marriage sets into motion an endless line of questions about self and purpose: What do I want for my life? What kind of spouse do I hope to be? What does this union say about me and what I value? How will it further the mission God has intended for me? As a gay Christian who has, in the past, sat on the fence about so many LGBT issues, marriage is also compelling me to take a more assertive stance in advocating for dialogue and reconciliation between the church and the LGBT community. I was already out of the closet, but marriage is pushing me out into the open.

I’ve wanted to be intentional about these last few weeks, to pray and feel and soak up every memory of this grand occasion so that it can be saved, bottled, and pulled down from a shelf years later for future generations to enjoy. But I’m the pragmatist in our relationship, and my concern with details and doing often distracts me from the beauty of being. I often wonder if I lack sufficient joie de vivre to fully embrace and experience such momentous occasions. Even now I find it difficult to identify exactly how I feel about the wedding day: there’s excitement, sure, and healthy doses of fear and stress. But mostly it’s still a challenge to grasp; it’s still surreal enough that my heart can hold it at arm’s length and observe it clinically. That facade will break at some point, whether it’s the evening my family gets into town, or the morning I meet Constantino’s sisters, or, perhaps, at the very moment I slip a ring on Constantino’s finger. Whenever it happens, let’s just hope there’s tissue nearby.

The truth is that I’m most looking forward to when it’s over, when that special day is a sweet memory in the past. I’ve never been one for ceremony or rites of passage, even less so when I am the focus of the occasion. I’m far more interested in returning home from our honeymoon and settling into life's everyday grandeur: a cup of coffee, a good book, a few quiet moments together on the couch where our feet overlap each other to keep warm. That, to me, is true joie de vivre.

 

David Khalaf is a fiction writer living in Portland. Follow us on Twitter: @daveandtino

Original photo by Jazzyblue TR, used through Flickr Creative Commons.

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