April 2018

Monday, January 20, 2014

Surpriise, Surprise!

This weekend, Ann and I participated in our first--and probably our last--flash mob. We followed directions from our friend Ally (aka Lovie), and snuck on the 10:40 ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island with 40 other chatty folks in yellow shirts while Pea and Lovie, their kids, and their dog Sunshine drove on in their car.

Our group in yellow went to the top floor of the ferry, as directed, and hid from Pea on the top floor in the very front of the ferry. One woman asked if we were a tour group and was excited to learn that, no, we were part of a flash mob and would participate as part of a wedding proposal. 

When Lovie had manipulated Pea onto the deck, we snuck around the side and when the boom box started playing, we emptied onto the deck in front of Pea and Lovie, the kids, and Sunshine, and various unsuspecting strangers:

Oh, her eyes, her eyes
Make the stars look like they're not shinin'
Her hair, her hair
Falls perfectly without her trying
She's so beautiful
And I tell her everyday

Ann placed a lawn chair in the middle of the dancers for me to sit in and hold up my yellow sign: "Girl, You're Amazing!" 

I heard Pea laugh and then cry as people in her life streamed into view: people from Seattle and Bainbridge Island and Boston and Colorado… and at last her brother and his family from New Mexico. 

The music played and the choreographed dance went on, with talented Annabelle leading the way: 

When I see your face (face face...)
There's not a thing that I would change
'Cause you're amazing (amazing)
Just the way you are (are)
And when you smile (smile smile...)
The whole world stops and stares for a while
'Cause girl you're amazing (amazing)
Just the way you are (are)

Her lips, her lips
I could kiss them all day if she'd let me
Her laugh, her laugh
She hates but I think it's so sexy
She's so beautiful
And I tell her everyday

Oh you know, you know, you know
I'd never ask you to change
If perfect's what you're searching for
Then just stay the same
So don't even bother asking if you look okay
You know I'll say

At this point, Lovie and the kids joined in. Sunshine jumped around a little, but mostly looked confused: 

When I see your face (face face...)
There's not a thing that I would change
'Cause you're amazing (amazing)
Just the way you are (are)
And when you smile (smile smile...)
The whole world stops and stares for a while
'Cause girl you're amazing (amazing)
Just the way you are (are)

The way you are
The way you are
Girl you're amazing (amazing)
Just the way you are (are)


Then Lovie got on one knee and the younger dancer surrounded her, throwing flower petals while Lovie revealed signs of the end of the poem "The Truelove" by David Whyte, a poem  that means a lot to Pea and her: 

you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness
however fluid and however
dangerous to take the
one hand you know belongs in yours. 

As Lovie revealed one line at a time, one of the strangers in the audience, moved her hands from her side, to one another, to her face and to her heart.

Pea cried.

I held a sign with "Yes Yes Yes," instructions for Pam's response and lines from the end of another lovely poem, this one by Kaylin Haught:

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic

and she said yes

I asked her if it was okay to be short

and she said it sure is

I asked her if I could wear nail polish 
not wear nail polish

and she said honey

she calls me that sometimes

she said you can do just exactly
 what you want to

Thanks God I said

And is it even okay if I don't paragraph 
my letters

Sweetcakes God said

who knows where she picked that up

what I'm telling you is

Yes Yes Yes

As Lovie slipped a giant zarconia ring onto Pea's finger, Pea nodded Yes Yes Yes.

My friend Kathy asked me, "Is that a real diamond? Because it's huge, and I need to know if I need to pretend I like it for the rest of my life."

Then we went to lunch before riding the ferry back to our ordinary lives, which had become a little more extraordinary for having been part of this event.

As I started to tell my parents this story last night, Dad said, "You told us about this last week."

No. This was a marriage proposal. Last weekend we went to a surprise wedding. Yep. Wedding.

We gathered in our church sanctuary, the choir in the loft and all of us in the dark shushing one another as we awaited Steve and Aaron's arrival.  Our minister, Karla, sat in her robe on at the front and spoke into the darkness: "Well," she said, "This is a first."

Finally, Steve and Aaron entered the narthex, and we watched their silhouettes as Steve knelt on one knee and held Aaron's hand. We watched Aaron nod Yes Yes Yes, and then someone threw the doors open and the lights on, and we all yelled, "Surprise!" 

Our choir director played "Linus and Lucy" as the couple came down the aisle, a flower girl casting petals in front of them as they proceeded.

Aaron, generally more shy than his husband Steve, nodded with surprise at each guest and then his mouth dropped open, and he hugged his cousins from Texas and Steve's brothers from elsewhere who were waiting at the front of the church. (Aaron's mother had hoped to come, but due to his sister's ill health, his mom needed to stay in Texas.)

Everyone clapped, and Karla prepared to start the ceremony, but Steve held up a finger: "Just a minute," he said, and he fiddled with his iPad. 

"Oh brother," I thought, he's going to record it from the front. Then Steve said, "Hi, Mama Franco," and showed Aaron's Mom, who was on Skype, the scene. We all waved as the screen pointed our way.

The ceremony began somewhat traditionally, following the program of blessings and Biblical readings. 

Then Steve interrupted the order, took a music stand from the side, and began to sing, "I've Been Changed for Good" from the musical Wicked. (I know it's something of a stereotype to have a song from a musical in a gay men's wedding, but I'm not making this up.)

I've heard it said

That people come into our lives for a reason

Bringing something we must learn

And we are led

To those who help us most to grow

If we let them

And we help them in return

Well, I don't know if I believe that's true

But I know I'm who I am today

Because I know you…

Then the choir sang, "The Lord Bless You and Keep You," and we loved seeing our friend Diana in the choir again, her partner Katie on our pew, and their daughter Bailey growing up and in the choir, too. 

Karla pronounced Aaron and Steve married (for the third time: like many gay couples, they've been celebrating in progressive ways--starting in Massachusetts), and we clapped and laughed and cried as they recessed. 

When Ann and I had our ceremony in 2009, I didn't want to call it a "wedding" because marriage wasn't yet legal and this was therefore a sacred service but not one that would convey civil rights. I also didn't want to take on the word or the meaning of heterosexual marriages because I felt that our relationship and our love were different--not less good and maybe just a little bit better (I'm just being honest here)--than a heterosexual wedding with all of history's baggage. 

When we participated in a "mass wedding" last February and received our wedding certificate, this was a legal event, so I called that a wedding. Maybe I feared that in taking on the trappings of heterosexual weddings, those of us who were gay would lose some of our culture.

I needn't have worried. Gay folks are, of course, creating our own traditions within this tradition of privilege. We are funny and loving and--like our heterosexual brothers and sisters'--our love is sacred. And a lot of fun.

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