Snowflakes in France

Reflections of a 20-something woman in publishing

“No one asked you to change it”

I read a wedding post today where it was noted that “the wedding is kinda like married life, it often comes with unresolved feelings.”

Now that wedding day is more than a month behind me. Jon and I have continued into married life, which, to those who ask how married life is treating me, I have to admit is much the same. Of course there is a legitimacy that comes with our legal union. As Jon quotes from a Seinfeld episode, Everything sounds better with ‘my wife’ in it. (And Kramer confirms with “My wife has an inner ear infection.”) We can now pick up each others’ dry cleaning, and I don’t feel so weird going to the vet, where I used to hope they wouldn’t refuse treatment because my last name was different from our dog’s. Now it’s the same.

But I also changed my name at work. And in addition to all the bureaucratic hoops that I have to navigate to make sure I still have access to email and people can still find my phone number on the directory, it seems I also have to confront social opinions on marriage and the choices that come with it. It’s something I admit I naively didn’t think I would encounter by following the social norm and taking Jon’s name.

A senior member of my department came by wondering why he couldn’t find me on the office chat. I explained that IT had just fixed it so there might be a lag before it showed up in searches. I concluded with, “Oh, this whole name-change thing is quite a process.”

“Well, no one asked you to change it,” he said with a pointed look. And walked away. (Yes, he studied gender studies at a school in NY and no, his wife did not change her name)

First of all, society kinda does ask me to change it. But I esteem those women who keep their name because they feel a connection to their father’s family, or because they have an established professional reputation, or simply because they were born with that name and they see no reason to take on this new family name for the sake of society’s preferences. Those are good reasons. And what’s more, women who keep their name put up with a lot of snarky comments and confused reactions. But none of those reasons really applied to me. I wanted Jon and I to have the same name because we’re in the same family now. This seemed the easiest way to do it.

But this comment, aside from popping a little How dare you! thought bubble in my head, makes me question how wifedom is changing my view on feminism. Maybe not necessarily my own view, because I’ve always taken the side of Women Have Choices! Yay! Let it continue! But more the side of those who advocate breaking all gender roles. I find that as I wife, while I do break some traditional gender roles, I actually like others. And what kind of feminist does that make me?

Unresolved feelings indeed.


Wedding recap

My bridesmaids told me I was the calmest bride they’d ever seen. And while I think it might be a more interesting story to tell you that the calm was just a front — that I was actually bursting at the seems with nerves and bridezilla-ness, that’s not the case. Sitting in that side room, listening to the beginning of the ceremony, I was as cool as a cucumber.

I made a good choice in my bridal brigade. I avoided people who like to stress or dramatize situations, so from the girls who helped me create centerpieces to my lovely dressmaker and my bridesmaids who put my hair and face together and sat with me that morning, I have to say that I have some smart and sensible friends. Not to mention my adoring husband, who stopped any potential worrying in its tracks by just being himself, the guy I want to commit to, every day.

Photo by Brad Luttrell

And then, because it was in Louisville, and because it felt like someone lifted the gates yelling, “And she’s off!”, I’ll give you the horse-racing version,

Going round the church now with Dad, here comes the bride. The birds keep singing and people are smiling and suddenly she’s at the groom’s side and her dad is trying not to cry as he hurries back to his seat.

The bride and groom are trying to pay attention to the readings now, but keep slipping smiles at each other…oh wait, here’s a song. .The bride is engrossed in the ceremony for a moment before turning back to Jon.

The priest has called them up now for the vows and there’s a moment where something may have gone wrong…is it in good times and bad or for richer for poorer? But the slip-up is unnoticed and they turn the corner, offering peace to everyone in the front row…and Jon steps a bit on the dress, the audience holds its breath…but she turns and beams at him, making sure he goes first around the next bend.

They light the candles, they sing another song and everyone files out exclaiming about the weather, the bride’s dress and and what a lovely homily the priest gave.

And now we’re in the final stretch; despite the traffic that holds up some of the bridesmaids, the bride and groom arrive at the reception on time. The dance is a bit tricky and they chide each other playfully but soon get back on track, working the room and thanking everyone for coming.

By the time Livin’ on a Prayer comes through the speakers, the two are sweating and running out of steam. But they keep pushing on until the end…and bid their adieus.  Whisked down the street, stopped by some scavenger hunters who want a photo and up into the room where they take off their worn shoes and sink into the bed.

I’m still waiting on photos from my official photographer, so more on this later, but I have to agree with my mom who said, “If anyone didn’t have fun at this wedding, it was their own fault.” Jon and I had a blast. And we never want to do it again. 🙂

Road Trip!

To launch our wedding week, Jon and I are driving from Hoboken down to Louisville, KY, the site of our nuptials. Whooo! We’re renting a car, bringing the dog and taking the long route because West Virginia has better scenery than Ohio.

Jon and Chomsky

My traveling companions

I dug through my closet of bags (seriously) and pulled out a nice sized canvas bag for all the trip essentials. My mom always had such a bag for our family vacations and I feel like it would be wise to follow her example for this 13-hour drive through the mountains.

  1. Sunscreen. It was already in the bag and I’ve had too many sunburns from long car trips to risk not having it. Burnt right arm on my wedding day? No thank you.
  2. CDs. Yeah, yeah, we have iPods, but we’re renting a car, remember? This calls for a collection of hopefully-unscratched CDs that we can both enjoy. As for radio, WV may have good scenery but I’m not counting on great music.
  3. Snacks. Cape Cod chips, fruit snacks, chocolate and jerky. Mmmmmm.
  4. Drinks. Pop and bottled water. And of course I’ll buy some coffee on our way out of town.
  5. Dog accessories. Chomsky is very high maintenance and might need his own bag: Food, bottled water and water bowl, leash, Everlasting Treat fillers, Nylabone, small treats, plastic bags, a bottle of Nature’s Miracle and some paper towels just in case.
  6. iPhone–fully charged. For directions, updates to family and entertainment.
  7. Printed Google directions. For when the iPhone fails.
  8. Camera. You know we’re going to have to stop at some weird place because the dog (or one of us I suppose) has to pee. Jon is charging his camera now.
  9. Blanket. I’m debating between the soft furry UK blanket and the amazing quilt that we received as a wedding gift!
  10. A sense of humor and a lot of patience. I would say that this will be the first big test for our marriage except that we won’t quite be married yet. I guess that designation belongs to the trip back after the wedding. Either way, aside from little ZipCar excursions here and there around NYC, we don’t drive together too often. This is going to be a llllooonnngg trip so we’d better make the best of it.

An essay I didn’t really want to write

I don’t write about the Church on this blog too much. So I’ll preface this post by saying that I’m a cradle Catholic, an Irish Catholic. The priest who is marrying us asked us to write a 1-page essay on how our partner resembles Christ. Kind of an annoying prompt at this point, but a good one nonetheless. Here’s mine.

The Church’s Bridegroom and Mine

When I think about the reasons I love Jon, that’s where I find his Christ-like qualities. It’s in his tendency to sacrifice for a greater good, his friendships and his knack for storytelling.

If it weren’t for those qualities, especially his sacrifices, our relationship wouldn’t have gotten very far. We met at a business training course in Maryland, but he worked in Boston and I worked in New York. After keeping up a regular correspondence for a month or so, we started visiting each other on weekends.

This long-distance relationship went on for about six months before we decided that long-distance dating was becoming difficult. To be honest, neither of us wanted to move. I had just gotten situated in Hoboken, NJ, had a new group of friends, my first job out of college. He had been in Boston for three years, had a close-knit soccer team, a stable job, a roommate he had known since high school. It was clear that one or both of us would have to sacrifice something to make this work.

It might be easy to think that Jesus was an infallible man who had no doubts in his sacrifice to save the world, but this isn’t quite the case. He had to give up a lot along the way: the carpentry profession that he grew up around, his own biological family, a general sense of privacy, just to name a few. And then of course there’s the moment in the garden when he prays, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”

When Jon offered to move to Hoboken, I knew it was a huge sacrifice for him. We had been trying to figure out the fairest way to maintain our relationship without having to travel every weekend. This solution wasn’t exactly fair for him. He had told me he didn’t accept change very easily, so for him to uproot himself for me showed a certain amount of faith in our relationship.

His faith increased my faith, and our relationship grew. It was the things I recognized as good qualities at the beginning that just kept showing me what a good man Jon is. His friends range far and wide, from different financial backgrounds, decades of age differences and circumstances.  In the same way that Jesus befriended the prostitute, the tax collector and the poor fishermen, Jon is always willing to give everyone a second or a third chance, and I find myself seeing people in a different way when I see them through his eyes. Someone I might write off as not my typical choice of friend suddenly becomes a really cool person who has a lot of interesting things to say.

But before I noticed his friends, it was Jon’s storytelling abilities that I noticed when we first met. Most of his stories don’t have a clever meaning like Jesus’ parables, but he always draws a crowd. Whether it’s about the time that he broke his collar bone and his dad unthinkingly picked him up by the arms, or the guy in the office who just walks around the floor all day, hoping no one will notice, Jon pauses at all the right moments and makes even repeated tales seem new.

We are taught that Jesus is the bridegroom of the church. To show his love for us, he has given us faith through his sacrifice, he has passed along stories and he has shown us to be friends with our fellow man. In his own way, Jon has done all of those things for me.

I realize that this reads like a high school student’s essay, the kind they write when they just want to graduate and get it over with. And that was kind of my thought process as I wrote it. But I did learn something along the way about our faith in each other and how we make each other better people than we are on our own.

Wedding Zen

OK People. I’ve made it. I’ve hit Wedding Zen.

My mom called me today, as she does every day, with a new bag of questions. The Tittles lady hasn’t responded to my email; what if she’s unreliable? Who is your cousin going to golf with? Do you think six people at a table is OK?

The difference was, today I said who cares. The men can figure out who’s golfing with whom. They’re big boys. Even my cousin. 6 people? They’re all friends, they’ll be fine. And Tittles, well frankly if she doesn’t show up and we have no cake balls, I don’t care because I will be married. Yay!

Then she said, Well you seem a lot less stressed than I am. I told her she needs to get that way. And soon.

Because we’ve made all of our big decisions. We’ve dotted the Is and crossed the Ts and now I’ve just got to walk down that aisle toward Jon and celebrate afterward. If something goes wrong, and something surely will, it’s OK.

I’ve heard many a smart bride say just that. But now I am living it. And it’s kind of awesome.