Every step & every whispered syllable echoed through the marbled hall, gaining an air of even greater importance with every new deflection. Everything felt bigger. A simple creak of an opening door blasted a call to attention. The gentle jolt of the same door closing sounded more like the slam of a gavel or a gun shot. Creaking and slamming while heels clicked as feet shuffled by. The hall was lined with shuffling people and with creaking doors, with labels like County Commissioner, District Court, Assessor, Attorney, Treasurer, Juvenile Court… the list was long because the hall was long. I wondered what people were thinking as we walked by.
I was still a teen, but I wasn’t headed for the Juvenile Court – I was looking for the County Clerk. The Clerk had what I needed. I knew that behind that door, I’d be able to procure a license to the one thing I wanted more than anything else in that moment. As I asked the lady at the desk for something they called a “Marriage License” I’m sure I remember her laughter causing her to fall to the floor. There was a scurry of big hair and brightly colored fingernails as her co-workers helped her up and joined in the giggling gaggle at such an odd request. That might have only happened in my insecure imagination, but the blank look on her face leaves me to only imagine what she was actually thinking. She probably thought I was working on some school ‘life-skills’ project or something. Like I said, I don’t know what she was really thinking.
But I knew what I was thinking. I was thinking, “I’m about to jump through a legal hoop that is the last obstacle to marrying my best friend, lady, just give me the papers and tell me where to sign!” Of course, I didn’t say that. I just sheepishly stood there with my boyishly swooping hair and glasses that looked like I’d borrowed them from someone with a face about 3 times the size of mine… and my best friend standing there next to me looking like she was probably about 14 years old… and her mom and dad standing behind us.
When I wonder about what people were thinking that day, I think I wonder most what her parents were thinking. They were about to sign a paper that allowed their baby girl to make what could potentially be the biggest mistake of her life. This wasn’t like signing for a class field trip or a grade report or something. This was giving their permission to let their daughter unite herself for life with some kid who still tight-rolled the cuffs of his jeans (I had a hard time letting go) and worked at Subway a few hours a week. This was consenting to a unification of their brilliant, beautiful little girl with a guy who had yet to graduate high school, who had no discernible career path, who may have had some potential, but hadn’t really showed anything with it yet. See, my best friend was only 17 years old, and to acquire a marriage license, we had to have what they called “written parental consent”. What that means is that not only did I have to go through the throat lumping embarrassment of asking a dad if I could marry his daughter, I had to go through the humiliation of having to “ask for it in writing”!
I feel like it’s one thing to passively allow some schmuck to ask your daughter to marry him, but to be asked to actively do something to help him marry her??? “This kid is a few synapses short of a fully functional frontal lobe!”
Again, I’m not sure what they were thinking, but I know what I was thinking. I was thinking, “I’m going to get to go through life with my best friend! I don’t know where we’re going, but I know we’re going together. Maybe we are crazy, but I’m the luckiest kid alive!”
The license we received from that county clerk was put into effect 18 years ago today, on 6-11-1994. I know there were probably people that didn’t think we’d last long – maybe even the clerk that gave us the paperwork. But they didn’t know what we were thinking. I still don’t know where God will take us for the rest of our lives, but I know He’ll take us together.
Some days I still marvel that we had the guts to start what we’ve been living for the last 18 years. Was it naivety that gave us the courage to join our two lives into one? Did we just not consider the larger implications of following our impetuous infatuation with each other? No, it wasn’t any kind of ignorance or lack of thought. It was love – a love for each other that’s been given to us by God. Love does stuff like this. Sometimes it looks stupid, like me in my glasses that just didn’t fit – but it does it anyway because it doesn’t care what other people are thinking. Today’s our 18th anniversary, and I still think I’m the luckiest kid alive!