Baby, I’m amazed at the way you love me all the time,
and maybe I’m afraid of the way I leave you.
Maybe I’m amazed at the way you pulled me out of time,
you hung me on the line.
maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you.
Paul McCartney, Wings
The day I married my husband, I had been government-married for twenty-four hours. By a woman. Then, the next day, by women. Let’s have a little sit down about sacred unions, the binding of Word, and what love has to do with it. Shall we?
It was a long, hot, wild summer in Alabama. I had saved enough mullah to make it through the summer—having taught at a historically-black university and returned home to my War Eagle country with a vengeance—and was missing my students. The house I had rented was all in boxes, like the desires of my flesh. And I was bored. Okay, fine, I had a wild hair up my ass just a twisting me into all kinds of salty knots. I was Trouble waiting to land on a porch in a pair of worn out jeans. One night, smoking a Pall Mall on my front porch and watching the fire flies trace across my rented yard, my daughter called. Come on Mom. What are you waiting for? Go out with meeeee . . . .
Isn’t it ironic? That “jump off the cliff” moment butt-ass up against that “mayhap I should just go watch a rerun of Golden Girls” moment? So. I stood up, cussing a red trail to the makeup bin, and knocked off the dust of a Uhaul and nigh on ten years of homebody to saddle up against a bar and a cold bottle of beer.
Fast forward: I keep frequenting that dusty bar that lost summer. One night I’m on a “bad date” and on my righteous Delta stomp out the door (sans my purse, damnit, I had to go back for my purse) some little upstart with chestnut hair hollers all don’t drive angry! Hey! Well. While I’d like to say that I was all move it along, youngster! I was really more all shit, you’re cute as a baby possum hanging from a pine tree. And fifteen years younger than me. Sigh. Guess we ain’t chatting about Reagan. Or the day we heard about AIDS on the Donahue Show. Or Poprocks. But, damn. He was sure cute as a button.
Fast forward: There’s a young man on his knees in front of me, the October sun wrenching the ground gold and red, asking me to fly. He has a leather ring in his hand, his heart in his eyes and somewhere in the back of my heart, I hear the low rumble of love.
Fast forward: Our wedding is planned. My sister, Cam, will officiate along with his friend, Rocky (nothing like two ball-busting chicas who know love when they smell it) and my oh-so-young intended gets nervous. What if the state doesn’t recognize it? Nothing, nothing should be left to chance. Well. I was cool with a hand-fasting. He needed legality: to protect me, protect the son he intended to adopt and protect that last moment I draw breath somewhere far away. And so . . .
Fast forward: December 5th, 2008. We arrive in separate cars at the Opelika courthouse, he with his friend, me with mine, and we fill out the paperwork. According to our plan: the Justice of the Peace (a woman) officiated at the most full-tilt-boogie ceremony every held in Alabama. I said my vows to Rocky (his friend, a woman) he said his vows to Cam (my friend, a woman) and when the JoP said you may now kiss the bride, my sweet intended spun me around and smacked me square on the ass. All the way out that courthouse (and yes, we were a’ runnin’) the JoP followed us hollerin’: I never! And I’m pretty hothouse certain she had not ever. But here’s the point y’all:
The next evening, in candlelight at the local UU, Cam and Rocky stood with tears in their eyes and married us. For realz. We handfasted, out of respect to our LGBT friends, but also on account of that’s the real shit. Everything else is government-sanctioned love. And I ain’t never seen that make a damn. Count the divorce lawyers in your town. Go on. Count ’em.
There was dancing. There was crying. There were moments that surpassed anything that could ever be encapsulated in a Hollywood movie scene. We, um, got married. For real.
And that moment, in all of its hazy, sacred glory feel, resounds for me this evening. For I want to talk about adoption, tribes and family.
As a hereditary, Cherokee/Celt craftswoman, I adopt. The laws of Cherokee Nation require only a War Priestess or Chieftess to announce the moment of love–and after–the responsibility. Once adopted, always family. No way out but death. I wonder at our government-sanctioned paperwork that makes two people one soul. Under whose authority is that enacted? Under whose protection? Will that authority be there when the rubber hits the road, when emotions/resentments/baggage show up at the family table?
Will the U.S. be there when we cry at the loss of trust? That moment of fear that we aren’t attractive anymore to our partner? Will the U.S. be there when you grip each other in a starkly lit hospital room as you hear the words: your baby will die. She’s sick. I’m so sorry for your loss. Or worse, the moment we shake with the final earthquake of their earthly death?
How about in the middle of the night, when the two of you have battered and bruised each other senselessly about senseless things, and the only thing left to cling to is that arm wrapped around you in the dark? (Ever notice how much time we waste arguing about mundane moments like empty toilet paper rolls, underwear on the floor, and some hot chick walking by our table at the local whatever? Try to remember those wasteful moments as he/she shakes off that mortal coil. Go on. And: whatever, dude.)
Sanction me all you want with your bills of sale, your stamps of approval, your tax-appropriate statuses.
I was married on December 6th. By women. In the presence of my Mother Goddess, my actual birth mother, my birthed children and my friends. We danced to Earth, Wind and Fire, drank wine, and I tell ya . . .
That Justice of the Peace didn’t have nothing on that kinda smack-yor-momma lovin. Nothing. For all her “legal” authority, we felt zip–until we showed up, all guts and glory, the next evening. And then, y’all, we rocked the house.
And later, the cabin. (But, that’s our little secret.)
So . . . ahem . . . my adopted tribe may not have my last night. Let’s be clear here about what they do have:
My life. The ups and downs, the “is this a lump?” and the “my god, I just felt her kick” and the “oh god, baby. I’ll stay with you. How much morphine did they say you could have?” and the “I miss him. I wish he was here. You know, I remember the time . . . .”
Because. That’s love. That’s life. That’s family.
All the way, y’all. Let’s go all the way.