One year ago today Kendall and I tied the knot. It was a fantastic day despite all the pebbles, rocks, and occasional boulders that had been strewn in our path over the years. Kendall and I met in 1989 but we were destined to go through a bunch of life experiences (including for me a marriage, child, and divorce) before it was our time to be together. And then once we knew that we wanted to get married and had already moved into our beloved house, the journey to the actual wedding day brought its own challenges. Not because of any doubts or misgivings about spending the rest of our lives together, but more as a result of two control freaks trying to plan a party on a budget! In retrospect I cringe when I remember the issues that somehow seemed important to me at the time. My first wedding 10 years earlier in Paris with its 400+ guests bore a strong resemblance to the coronation of the King and Queen of France. I vowed for years that if I ever got married again, I’d go for total simplicity, preferably 20 people in a Chinese restaurant. The minute Kendall and I decided to get hitched our 20 guests quickly bounced up to 150 and counting. Our 1909 house seemed like the perfect location so we were all set there despite the terror that our gorgeous inlaid floors would be turned into kindling by the razor sharp stiletto heels of our fashionable friends (for a few minutes we considered putting “no high heels allowed” on the wedding invitation). A simple wedding in our loving home—what could be easier? Sadly, when push came to shove, Mr. Simplicity here turned into a pre-slammer Martha Stewart. Suddenly I was acting like a male Bridezilla, panicking about things like getting matching tablecloths and the right kind of plates, and making sure we had enough food (i.e., enough to feed Romania). Kendall’s planning ideas, on the other hand, were so rustic and do-it-yourself that she practically had herself crocheting the chuppah and hand-blowing the glass we’d smash at the end of the ceremony.
I don’t know why I was surprised that we were doing our usual polarizing dance. Sometimes we are like that couple in the Woody Allen movie, disagreeing about ridiculous things for the sake of argument. Wife: “The Atlantic is a better ocean!” Husband: “No, the Pacific is better!”
When Kendall said she didn’t think we needed to rent any chairs for the wedding reception, I had visions of my relatives passing out from exhaustion, a plastic cup of lukewarm punch dropping from their hands. We’d lean down to their flailing bodies and strain to hear their barely audible last words: “I j-j-just needed to sit down for a minute.” Kendall also believed that she could prepare all of the food herself, whipping up several hundred sandwiches that morning in her wedding gown. And we certainly didn’t need to get any additional plates or glasses—if we ran out she’d just excuse herself and do a few loads of dishes in the kitchen, what’s the big deal? To be fair, I have to say that most of Kendall’s ideas for the day were quite smart and reasonable. That’s why I was elated when she came up with the self-catering plan—I knew that even her most devoted support group would laugh in her face at that one. By the time Kendall came around and agreed to let someone else handle the food, I was also able to see the light and let go of most of my prissy demands. Happily for our future, the polarizing positions Kendall and I often adopt are just a part of our process and not permanent signs of our intransigence.
Thank God we had our wonderful Rabbi Lisa and her partner Tracy to guide us through our preparations and remind us what the day was about (NOT tablecloths!). At least we didn’t fight about the ceremony which was exactly how we wanted it and so moving I noticed tears in the eyes of even our most cynical relatives. The whole day was perfect, from the gloriously mismatched tablecloths in the backyard to the moving songs that our family and friends sang to us.
I love that today is our paper anniversary. It was Kendall’s book that brought us together in the first place, and writing is such a big part of both of our lives. I also have a love of fine paper and writing instruments, not to mention the mountains of movie memorabilia that also played a part in bringing us together. I remember the moment we decided to use the 1927 wedding photo of MGM wunderkind Irving Thalberg and actress Norma Shearer on our own wedding invitation (they were married near us at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple) and how we laughed when some people thought it was a picture of us. We later spent hours in the Motion Picture Academy Library looking for the perfect photograph of the married Irving and Norma for our thank you notes. I love the eccentricities that Kendall and I share, and I so appreciate the wisdom with which we entered this marriage. Not on some insane Tom-Cruise-jumping-on-Oprah’s-sofa-because-he-LERVES-Katie-Holmes-so-much kind of high, but more with the awareness that there will be times when we think that we hate each other’s guts but that these are the times when we can really grow and reach new levels of understanding about ourselves and what it means to be in a committed relationship with another person, surely one of the most difficult roles we crazy humans take on.
We made it through our first year, and I loved every minute of it, even those few minutes when I wanted to lunge for Kendall’s throat. Besides loving Kendall’s company, sense of humor, and generous spirit, I am so grateful for the opportunities that being married provides, and I hope that soon enough all of the congregants at our gay and lesbian synagogue will be able to enjoy the benefits and challenges of this institution. On many levels I couldn’t agree more with Oscar Wilde’s sentiment that “marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.” No one in their right mind would embark on such a journey, but oh, what a rewarding trip!