Maddy and Molly Got Married

September 25, 2011 § 3 Comments

Botanical Garden, Madison, Wisconsin


The area around Madison, Wisconsin is beautiful—fields of harvest gold, family farms, lakes. The corn was in, and pumpkins were on the vines—or rather on the ground, attached to their vines, like lopped off heads that managed to reconnect. That only works if you’re a vegetable.

Apple pie in one of the older college cafes was homemade and excellent; the used bookstore had, on one shelf to my right as I entered the door, every single novel I read in my 20’s, both classic and contemporary. It was a little spooky. I burrowed further in and bought by Retreat from Love by Colette, which I may or may not have read before.

It’s hard to remember my 20’s, though much easier than remembering people I met last week. I do know that I didn’t have as many bright and charming friends as M & M do—a seemingly endless supply of deliciously smart people. I didn’t meet one friend of theirs I didn’t like, which is humbling considering I’ve had so many friends in my life that I didn’t like.

But about the brides. Brides are always beautiful, they say, though I’ve seen quite a few who weren’t. These two qualified. Molly was radiant and calm, Maddy a little self-conscious and surprised—even after all the planning—that there was a real wedding going on, all these people from her and her parents’ lives, and from Molly’s and her parents’ lives gathered in one place, just for her and her beloved. Andree, mother of Bride No. 1 (alphabetical), sang a song Jay (father) composed, and the young women made their vows in the early evening sun. Molly’s twin sister and the friend who introduced the two read from John Donne and The Song of Solomon. Then drinks, dinner, toasts, dancing, in the large country house that pretended, reasonably well, to be a private residence.

It was my first gay wedding, and for various reasons that have nothing to do with the brides, I found it soothing. The four parents were happy that their daughters had found love with a kind and trustworthy person. I liked the drift of memory that wasn’t too much—either in my knowledge of the families or the trigger of ceremony. I wasn’t in the mood to be assailed by the past with its infinite regrets, and the quality of newness was just right for me. Of course marriage is always new to the wedded pair, and seeing that is what uplifts us. The shyness of intimacy made public—and acknowledging a love so deep you want to be with the person forever is very intimate—awakens tenderness in the guests, along with a little fear.

When I got married, I was under no illusion that things would be perfect or even close to that. I was making vows while living in the moment. I’m not a good poster child for life (though I’m still married). But I see it in others— an expectation, not of perfection, but of a union that never happens, or rather, that happens differently than can be imagined. I‘m not saying Maddy or Molly has this expectation; I have no idea. They are private people. But I’ve seen it, I’ve felt it in myself, and I wanted to give it to them—as if I could. I wanted the sweetness and solace of the wedding to go on and on: people of several generations, work and troubles put aside, making friends, eating cake, listening to music.

The cake was especially good.

What Was Told, That
by Jalalu’l-din Rumi
translated by Coleman Barks

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that’s happening here.

The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,

in love with the one to whom every that belongs!

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§ 3 Responses to Maddy and Molly Got Married

  • Kate Gardner says:

    I can’t believe you were in Madison! That’s Steve’s hometown–or what passes for one, in this perrigrinating age–that is really not a good use of that word, sorry. Anyway, our older son, and Steve’s dad and youngest brother all live in or near Madison. It’s so odd to imagine you there– the ideas is simultaneously comforting and lonely-making. (I didn’t get any sleep last night, and it shows.)
    –kate

    • It would have been great to meet you for a coffee! We liked Madison, though we weren’t there long enough to see much more than the cafe/used bookstore downtown and a little lake-front. The countryside looked much like upstate New York.

  • Andree says:

    Shucks, I just saw this. Lovely, Margaret.

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