I wasn’t sure what to expect when telling my family that Oats and I are getting married. Initially, I decided that I’d wait for a bit, simply because I was feeling happy about proposing (and Oats’ acceptance!) and didn’t want to take the risk of that being ruined, in case my parents didn’t say what I wanted to hear. Since they all live in Toronto and have little connection to my everyday life, it was unlikely they’d hear the news unless I told them.
Oats and I had been talking about getting married for quite a while, and even chosen a date (Spring Equinox, 2011), ceremony site (a rocky point jutting out into the tidal waterway by our house), party location (our house: both our apartment and that of the upstairs neighbours), and style of event (casual but meaningful). Oats knew I’d be asking, but not when or where, and hadn’t expected the proposal gift (not a ring! A fine pocket watch, which is much more her style). Still, with so much of the plans already discussed, I was surprised by how different it felt when I proposed, how significant it suddenly all became.
Also, it made Oats and I both very giggly.
I proposed at around lunchtime, and felt more and more thrilled as the day progressed. Finally I decided that my family would have to react well, if only because I was so obviously excited. The first person I got a hold of was my 19-year-old sister, who shrieked with delight and immediately wanted to know if she could be a bridesmaid. Um… No. But only because there aren’t any… It’s not that sort of wedding. I talked to her parents next, and my father reacted with a huge surprised “WHAT?!!”
“YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO SAY CONGRATULATIONS,” I said.
“Right, sorry, yes! Congratulations!” he replied, then added in an apologetic tone, “It’s just that I never think of these things.”
He reacted better when I told him that Oats would be taking my/his/our last name (which we’re doing for a whole bunch of reasons, not simply because we think that’s the way it should be). This pleased him, and prompted some silly yet poignant moaning about how no one else would take it, or if they did, they wouldn’t keep it. Yes, it’s true: My mother had the name while they were married, then changed to my stepdad’s later; my stepmom has kept her maiden name. Whatever, Dad, you’re fine, get over it.
My stepmom was just generally happy about the news, and wanted to know more about our plans, which was nice.
My older sister wanted to know about my dress plans, and whether I’d prefer her to knit me a lace shawl or a capelet. She’s an incredible fibre artist who makes the sort of pieces that become heirlooms, and I feel very lucky to know there’s one coming my way.
My mother and stepdad were on vacation, so I sent an email asking them to phone. They declined due to cost, and told me to tell them the news in an email, or wait until they came home. I chose the former option, and got a very sweet response which also made me laugh: “Congratulations! We had listed 5 possibilities… That was a definite one, the others were: Having a baby, buying a house, moving or got a job….They would all be good news.”
Hey, having a baby?!!! I’m 28 years old, in debt and unemployed, with a new career that I’m trying to get off the ground: Being pregnant right now wouldn’t be good news, it’d be poor planning!
Like, really really terrible planning, especially given that our baby-making scheme involves much scheduling and financial investment.
Still, it’s damn good to know that they’d be supportive if that’s what we were doing, even if it does make me doubt their assessment of my intelligence.
And… Well, I’m sure there’ll be a lot of blog posts about all sorts of wedding/marriage stuff coming your way, dear readers, because it’s something that really gets me thinking. Among other things, I still hold on to my anarchist ideas about state-sanctioned legal marriage, which is to say that I’m not really into it. Having said that, I was filled with joy when I knelt and looked up at Oats, and saw her smiling at me as I took her hand. What I really *can* get behind is the idea of a spoken commitment of lifelong intimate care, love, and support, witnessed by our family, friends, and community, and then celebrated by one massive party, to which the state is not invited. Thinking of that helps me put the legal stuff in perspective.