When TBHITW and I first met we were two broken people.
You see we had both been married before.
We had been married to people who were unsuited to us, people who did not love us the way we wanted to love or be loved.
And that broke us.
Because who we were, and from where we came from, marriage meant something. Marriage meant promises and commitment and love and respect and all the good things that being in a solid partnership can bring.
But we were married to the wrong people. People who didn't share the ideal.
Long before we met, we both ended our marriages. And it was sad. It was sad because divorce is the death of dreams. Of hopes. Of promises. Of the future that we all imagine when we imagine we are in love.
And then we met each other.
He courted me. And I courted him.
And over the course of two and a half years we came to trust each other. And love each other. And know each other. And respect each other. And we both thought, "hmmm... this is the way it is supposed to be". "This is what happiness and partnership looks like".
So we married.
The April before we got married (August 4th.) we went to Europe together. We spend two and half weeks traversing England and France. We visited London, riding the tube and walking the squares and eating and drinking in smoky pubs.
We crossed the channel from Portsmouth to Bayeux and biked the entire D-Day map. TBHITW was a history buff and we used Stephen Ambroses' book, "Citizen Soldier" as our map.
We slept in an 11th. century manor house.
We drank Calvados, the local apple brandy.
We drove to Mount St. Michel and watched the tide roar in at 60 miles an hour.
We rented an Alpha Romeo and with the top down, we drove to Caan and took the train to Paris.
The City of Lights.
We stayed on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and witnessed the finish to the Paris Marathon.
We strolled under the Arc de Triumph.
We went to the Eiffel Tower. And Notre Dame. And the Louvre.
We walked beside the canals.
I spoke high school french.
We ate wonderful food and drank cheap wine. Everyday we ate cheese, chocolate and bread. And because we were young we didn't gain a pound or worry about cholesterol.
People mistook us for honeymooners and we didn't correct them.
When we got home we began planning our wedding. And our new home.
I was moving from Pennsylvania to New Jersey where TBHITW already owned a home and a business.
So it began.
Our rehearsal dinner party was a picnic at a local suite hotel, with a pool. People swam in the warm summer evening. We BBQ'd and ate sushi. My sister's room was on the pool side so guests climbed in and out of her window to get to their own rooms or grab an extra drink. Other guests of the hotel, thinking it was a hotel happy hour, joined us and we let them.
Family and friends came from all over the country to celebrate our wedding. Everyone said, "you look so happy" "I haven't seen you so happy in years" "Look at the two of you".
We walked down the aisle together.
No one had to give us to one other.
We had already given ourselves to each other.
For our "real" honeymoon we both decided that it wasn't fair to people (or to us) who had travelled so far to only get to spend a day or so together.
So we rented a 10 bedroom beach house and invited anyone who wanted to come along with us.
The beach house was not one of those new monolithic McMansions you so frequently see on the Jersey Shore.
No, this house was old. It was clapboard. With porches that wrapped around its floors on every level. The kitchen had an enclosed screen porch that sat 18 for dinner.
It did not have air-conditioning, but had whirling ceiling fans in every room. Even the four bathrooms.
It did not have a dishwasher because, really, if you are cooking for 18 people don't you think some of the 18 will help with the dishes. Over music and wine? Of course everyone pitches in.
Seventeen people came on our honeymoon and stayed the week.
It was glorious.
And I wouldn't go back and change a thing.