I always thought eloping was romantic. Or, at least, perfectly practical (and romantic) especially when saddled with feuding in-laws, controlling parents, or judgmental friends. Depending on the location, it is a practical money-saver, too, with weddings typically being enormous, drooling, cash-consuming, beasts. And, if you’re an introvert, eloping ensures you won’t have to spend an evening with people you love but wish would just go home. I don’t know whether it’s adulthood, or marriage, or parenthood or a combination of the three, but I’m not so sure I dig elopements (how is that even a word?) anymore.
I’ll be honest with you because, let’s face it, I am always honest with you (much to everyone’s discomfort I expect) and tell you that suddenly eloping seems somewhat shameful. I saw some of you bristle just then right through my screen. I know. The outrage. I could never expect to understand your situation! And I don’t. I don’t understand it. But I’m not questioning it. I’m not even thinking about it as I wish you congratulations because that’s the only acceptable thing to say when someone marries (or otherwise has a happy event). My approval is certainly not necessary or sought and is, of course, irrelevant to the wonderful happiness you are experiencing. You, dear readers, would never do such a thing, but I have seen people’s curiosity get the better of them to the point where it seemed questioning or expressing shock was the appropriate answer. Congratulations. THAT is the appropriate answer.
All things considered, Debra and I eloped. In our case, we couldn’t imagine how to bring our families together to celebrate what, to them, wasn’t something real. I mean, it’s real. And they are supportive, and have always been except for that one spot of time but now it’s over and done with thank goodness, but to them marriage comes with a certificate and a person of god. As gay individuals in the state of Virginia, we were short on the certificate side which, frankly, rendered the rest of it irrelevant.
Here’s what we did do: we spent months talking about the where, when and how. We ordered 100 creamy roses, we bought rings and clothing, we wrote vows, we dreamed of and ordered a wedding cake, we rented a house on the beach and then, in front of seagulls, exchanged vows barefoot in the sand. There was no certificate, but even our families would have conceded god was present. We called our parents when we cut the cake. We sent announcements from the local post office the next day. It was right for us, just as everyone else’s ceremony (or lack thereof) is right for them.
Since the only appropriate word inward is congratulations, I turn outward to wonder, why elope? Why suddenly show up married having not even told close friends? Why skip the trappings of celebration? Are you afraid someone will talk you out of it? Are you ashamed of your decision? Are you worried there will be judgement? In the social media age, why does your status update elicit so much of this ?!@#!? Does none of that make you question the decision itself? There aren’t hard and fast answers to any of it and, obviously, it’s none of my business. Congratulations!
I’m thinking a lot about marriage these days, anyway. I’m a little jealous of my gay friends* who head off to be married (in droves, now that there are benefits involved) and I wonder at our decision to stand fast, unmarried, until we can marry in our own state and be recognized equally. Does that protest have power? I waffle somewhat and then am stymied by the details and questions. How is this different than it was in 2005? We can still go to Massachusetts (or a number of closer states) to be married, just as we could then. And it will have no meaning in our own state, just as it did then. Our families still live far away and we would still have to explain that our shiny new certificate means little but confusion in our own state. We’re not so bull-headed as to stay on the other side of the fence if there are real financial benefits to be had from filing together. That remains to be seen and is a decision best suited to our financial manager. Funny, isn’t it, that a man named Rex in Chesapeake, Virginia could tell us to get married and we would.
I’m only going to marry Debra once (more) and I want to be able to do so without a single shadow in my mind. But if Rex says the word and it seems that yes, the benefit is significant, we’ll do another version of eloping. We’ll head to some courthouse, in a state not our own, with our families and friends far away and exchange solitary vows. I’m not digging elopements these days. But congratulations, by god, congratulations.
*You and I (some of us anyway), we have mutual friends (or readerships, if you don’t want to go that far) that went recently to get married. And we are so proud and happy for them. It says more about me than I’ve written here that I think their marriage is a beautiful, perfect, wonderful, totally, deserved, special thing and the only word in my mind is congratulations, inward OR outward.
Also, if you made it this far you probably have plenty to add to the conversation. Whether you plan to share it or not, suffice to say that as always, I’m just having an opinion however uninformed or outrageous it is. Vive la différence.