Tag Archives: the ring

Across the Shoreline: The Wonder That’s Keeping The Stars Apart


One thing that was really important in planning our wedding was to make our guests feel involved.  We didn’t want them to just be people who were there to watch, and we didn’t invite anyone who would want to just come and watch.  We wanted people there because they have been important in our lives individually, and we hope they continue to be important in our lives as a family.  We wanted these people to be present, intentional witnesses to our union, and to actively acknowledge and support us.  A huge part of this was the ring ceremony.

We had been to a couple of weddings in the year before ours in which the rings were passed around to each guest for them to hold and bless.  A few months before our wedding, one of our friends lost her wedding ring; she looked down one day and the ring was gone.  As a gift, her wife had her own wedding ring melted down and divided into two rings, and the two of them celebrated still having rings that had been warmed by their family and friends.  This story made the blessing of the rings so much bigger for me, and I realized that there is power even in the small blessings that we bestow on small things.

After the first two poems, our minister took the rings from my brother, who had been keeping them safely (and nervously) in his pocket. Note: giving your wedding rings to a sixteen year old boy and making him stand in front of 50 strangers in nice clothes can be really, really intimidating.

My awesome brother, concentrating.

First, Ellen talked a little bit about the significance of the rings, and then she read a Celtic explanation that Turtle had found and loved:

May the element of Air bless these rings.  Air is at the beginning of all things, the direction of East, and the dawning of a new day.  May your lives through the reminder of these rings be blessed with continuing renewal of love.

May the element of Fire bless these rings. Fire is the passion within your love, the spark of love itself, the heat of anger, and the warmth of compassion.  It is the direction of South, the heat of midday.  May your lives through the reminder of these rings be blessed with continual warmth.

May the element of Water bless these rings.  Water nourishes and replenishes us, the waters of emotion and harmony pour vitality into our lives.  It is the direction of West, the afternoon and evening.  May your lives through the reminder of these rings be blessed with fulfillment and contentment.

May the element of Earth bless these rings.  All life springs from the earth and returns to the earth, the direction of North, the nighttime.  May your lives through the reminder of these rings be blessed with strength and solidity.

She finished with, “And now, Bird and Turtle invite all of you to pass the rings between one another, pausing to say a prayer, a blessing, a best wish for the future, or simply warm them with your love, before passing them along,” and the rings were off:

As the rings traveled, my other bridesman read e. e. cummings’ i carry your heart. To be honest, Turtle really wanted this poem, but at first I didn’t; I thought it was too cliche, too overused.  Who doesn’t have this poem as part of their relationship?  And then she told me that it’s our wedding, it doesn’t matter what other people do in their relationships, this is a poem that is important and authentic for us.  And it seemed like the perfect poem for Ean to read, so that’s what happened.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

The rings were still moving, and our minister had everyone say something about how they promised to affirm and support us.  I don’t really remember what she said, but I do remember that we spent an enormous amount of time picking out the words from various places and editing them excessively before giving them to her… and now I have no idea what they were.  Funny how that works.  So our community affirmed our relationship, and then my sister gave a reading:

Messenger, by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

As the rings continued to pass from hand to hand among our family and friends, we prepared to say our vows…

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With this ring, I thee wed

While our wedding itself was nontraditional in that we are two women marrying each other, we did try to keep many traditional elements to the whole thing.  It was really important to us that our wedding was clearly a wedding, that it was the same ceremony that thousands of other couples go through when they create their new families with the blessings of their friends and the families they came from.

Some of the tradition we kept was in the structure of the ceremony, and some in the script itself.  When we exchanged rings, we said:

With this ring, I give you my promise to honor you, to be faithful to you, and to share my love and life with you in all ways, always. With this ring, I thee wed.

Photo by E. Leonardsmith

And that’s what I want to tell you about: our rings.  I’ve talked about our search for wedding rings a few times before.  It was important to me, for awhile, that the rings be identical, or at least very similar to each other, so that we would be recognized as two women married to each other, not just as two married women.  In the end, that went out the window.  Turtle found her ring at an antique shop in Boston, and she swooned.  She didn’t want to take it off.  It was clearly *her ring*, and it didn’t hurt that it matched her engagement ring.

Photo by E. Leonardsmith

My ring, funny enough, was the one that I had first fallen in love with, then briefly rejected for the love of another ring, and then finally accepted, and I couldn’t love it more.  We had both rings engraved with our pre-marital initials, and mine says MyInitials to HerInitials 9-18-10, and hers says HerInitials to MyInitials 9-18-10.  All the time I spent agonizing over the right thing seems a little bit silly now, because it’s so clear that we did what was right for us – but I think that that’s how a lot of our wedding decisions went.

(Legally) Married ladies on their honeymoon! Wearing pretty rings! Giddiness!

How did you make your ring decisions? Does your ring match your spouse’s?  Tell me about your interesting/exciting engravings!

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Chipping Away, and Thank You

So we are still planning a wedding, in case you were wondering.  I promised Alice Rumbledore that I wouldn’t apologize for not updating about my wedding, so take that, blogland!

The thing is, I’m just not dying to tell people about it right now.

I started writing about different things and I found – some crazy is about to come out here, brace yourselves – I like it.  I like talking about what it’s like to be gay (and getting married), or what some of my thoughts are on riding bicycles in Boston, or on rescue dogs (just wait, that post is coming).  And our wedding has been a really, really good starting point for all of these other things, but suddenly I’m finding myself deciding not to write anything because really I should write something wedding-related and I’m just not in the mood for that.  And so I’ve stopped really writing at all.

So, forgot apologizing for not writing about my wedding.  I’m sorry for not writing.

All of that said, wedding stuff is going well, though not well enough that I’m excited and taking pictures and ready to tell you all about it.  Just well enough that I am calm, and I feel like it is all happening.  The pieces are small and they are falling into place.  We bought our wedding rings!  But we don’t have them. And we don’t have pictures of them.  And part of me feels like I want to keep them private, secret, beautifully and deliciously ours until they are ours, until they are on our fingers and mean something to the world.

To tide you over I’ll show you a picture of the (thousand dollar each) rings that we almost got but didn’t get.  I would have gotten the one on your left and Turtle would have gotten the one on your right:

click on image for source

Also, we have our invitations – but only sort of.  We are working with a friend of mine to design them, and she is doing a wonderful job.  We did our final edits and she’s putting it all together and printing a mock-up for us – so that’s happening soon.  And then we’ll have an invitation party and maybe take pictures and maybe I’ll talk about it.  But really, who wants to hear about my invitation party?  Probably not me, and therefore, probably not you either.  So maybe I won’t talk about it.

We’re also putting together our vows, and maybe I’ll talk about that process once it’s done, but, again, I’m sure not willing to share the vows themselves on the internet, at least not until after the fact.

We’re chipping away at all these little details, and I’m feeling calmer and calmer about everything.  Which is sort of funny, because shouldn’t I be freaking out?  I’m glad I’m not freaking out.

we are getting ready to par-tay

I’m also really grateful that I started reading all these wedding blogs (that I’m sort of losing interest in, which doesn’t seem uncommon at this point in the game) and started writing in the first place.  Thank you, thank you, wedding blogs I have read and wanted to contribute to, wedding industrial complex I have resented and wanted to speak out against, and all of you who read and comment and are interested in what I have to say.  I really, really appreciate it.  Even if I do act shy and awkward when you mention my blog to me in person.  It makes me nervous.  Not saying don’t do it, just saying that I will probably act shy and awkward.

What are you curious about?  And also, who are you, and how did you find me here?

Love,

Bird

P.S. Someone registered the derby name “Lil Miss Rough-it”, and it wasn’t me.  Do I have to change the name of my blog now? This makes me really sad.  Stupid derby person who submitted their name one week before I submitted mine.

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Would you say no…? Well, yes.

Alright, friends, I have alluded to this little story before, but only now have I the energy to sit down and actually write it. This long-time-coming tale is one of almost-engagement, non-engagement, and pre-engagement. This is an anecdote of detail and “what is an engagement, really?” And onto it:

Turtle totally did not want to marry me.

Okay, I’m way exaggerating.  I think she made it quite clear that a part of her did want to marry me.  But another, larger part of her was clinging desperately to her single-dom, her independence, and the sense of self that she had spent several years fostering.  I think that sometimes a relationship can threaten a sense of self – if it’s a good relationship, you can get past that and hopefully both people help foster each other’s sense of self, but in a less-than-awesome relationship, you can really lose yourself.  Which, on a side note, is something I am very familiar with.

I think it was about five weeks into our relationship that I started thinking about marriage.  I remember, actually, the first time it crossed my mind, because it crossed my mind totally uninvited and I actually startled a little bit.  I was like, “Hey, marriage-thought, how the hell did you get here? Make yourself comfortable.”  We were walking near Harvard Square, and we were holding hands, and we probably weren’t talking because I remember thinking about us and our age difference (we’re 11 years apart – surprise?) and whether that would affect our relationship.  And that’s when the thought crossed my mind: “It’ll probably only come up when we get married.”

Okay:

  1. What the f kind of thought is that, to randomly cross one’s mind?
  2. We had been dating – have I said this already? – for approximately a month. A month! Enough said.
  3. Really, the logic is flawed.  How would an age difference really affect our wedding?  It didn’t occur to me that it would affect our relationship or our marriage – just our wedding.  Where does that come from?

I spent the next few months discussing with my roller derby carpool buddy whether I was crazy (answer: no) and whether to actually say anything (answer: hell no).  We talked about really, really loving someone and how sometimes you can’t say more than “I love you,” but that “Will you marry me?” is like saying, “No, I really really love you,” and that sometimes you should wait until you’ve been together at least 6 months and try to find other ways to express that in the meantime.  In retrospect, this is not the case for everyone… but I think it’s pretty good advice.  Thanks, Estrogeena Davis.

Fast forward a few months: it’s December, we are at Turtle’s friend’s house for dinner, and we have both had a bit too much wine (another side note: that means approximately one glass each. We are very small people.). We go to wait in line for the bathroom, and we are all lovey and sweet and happy together.  At this point, we have been together about 8 months.  That’s a reasonable amount of time.  And I, in my drunken lack-of-inhibition-ness, say, “If I asked you to marry me, would you say no?”

She looks at me and says, “No.” And then she goes into the bathroom.

So I am all fluttery and twittering and don’t remember much else until that night, when I say, “If I asked you to marry me, would you say yes?” And she says something like, “I think so,” or “probably,” or maybe she even said “yes,” but if she did she said it evasively.

What do you do with that, people?  Does that mean yes? Are we talking about marriage here?  Are we way, way ahead of schedule?

Well, what I did with that was I bought her a ring.  I bought her a ring that I knew she liked and that I could afford and here it is:

image by bloom studios; click for source

A funny note: I was so nervous when I bought it.  I had been eyeing it on Etsy for a month and my hands were shaking as I clicked through to order it – and then as soon as it was done, I felt calm.  I felt like this was the right thing – of course it was the right thing.

And then I carried it around with me everywhere.  And I started acting funny.  We started bickering and picking at each other, just a little; it was like we were both testing out whether this was something we really wanted to do.  And I don’t remember when I told her I had a ring, but she knew, and every time it came up in any way at all, she freaked out a little and wouldn’t even agree to look at it.  So finally we agreed to stop talking about it, and I just hid the ring away and tried to stop thinking about it.

In the next few months, we moved in together, got a kitten, I quit my job, I got a new job, I started medication for depression, I quit the new job and started a newer job, she got a new job, I had a hard time at work, and one of our closest friends prepared for her move from Boston to the stupid west coast.  In other words, we went through a lot together. One day, we were supposed to go away for the weekend and her workday was totally kicking her butt.  I decided to pick her up at the train station and when she came up the stairs, she was crying.  She’s cried, like, three times in our entire relationship, so you know it’s a big deal when it happens. And she got into the car and cried and I told her that everything was going to be alright.  I sat there, hugging her and rubbing her back, and when she stopped crying she sat up and looked at me and said, “I would like to marry you.”

This was not our proposal.  There was no ring here, there was no huge thing, and to be perfectly honest I was afraid to say anything about it in case she took it back or got scared or jumped out of the car and ran away.  I was pretty much like, “I can never change my clothes or bathe again because I can’t change anything.”  Don’t worry, I totally bathed and changed within a reasonable time frame.

Anyway, we went away for the weekend, and we got back home, and at this point it was clear that we had agreed to marry each other.  So I asked if she wanted to see the ring, and she said no.  She said she didn’t want to see it until it was real, until this was it.  And I said that I needed her to see the ring, I needed her to make sure she liked it, I needed to know if it was the right thing.  She agreed, and I dug it out of my pants drawer (underwear or sock drawer is way too obvious, you guys) and I gave it to her.  And I could tell right away that it was not what she wanted from an engagement ring.

And you know what?  That was totally, completely okay.  Because this ring, this pretty little chocolate diamond ring, was about so many things that were not about our agreement to marry each other.  It was about my realizing I wanted to be with her in this big important way.  It was about my willingness to wait until she was ready, and about her willingness and ability to know herself and recognize where she was in her process. It was about the eight months in between my buying it and our decision together.  It was about our knowing where we ourselves were in this process and knowing where the other one of us was.

I asked her to take it and to wear it for all of the things it meant to us.  We agreed that it would be our “pre-engagement ring” even as we laughed about how dorky and ridiculous it is to be pre-engaged.  And you know what?  It was the absolute perfect pre-engagement ring.  She wore it on her right hand, and still does now.

oooh pretty secret ring no one else notices cause it's on the other hand!

Which side were/are you on in your relationship? How many engagement rings is too many?  Why do you think an 11 year age difference would affect our wedding? Do you think I am completely crazy? At least the dog didn’t eat the ring, right?

that weeked: thumbs up for love.

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Falling in (wedding-related) love

This week, we did four huge wedding-related things.  Look at us go!

First, we decided what rings we’re going to get.  We are going to splurge on the rings that we love.  It feels okay to splurge a little – other wedding things are very budget-restricted, but we decided early on that rings wouldn’t be in the official budget, since they’re not something that is just for one day.  So buying the expensive rings that we absolutely love feels okay (not breaking the budget, even if they break the bank a bit) and like a good celebration… in the end, they’ll hopefully come out to be less than $20/year, which sounds good to me.

Second, we worked on our vows.

Third, we got our caterer! We had our tasting and it was A.Maze.Ing. Seriously, my mouth is watering thinking about it.  We’re getting our chairs, which we spent two seconds deciding about, and we’re getting our fancy tables and linens that will look nice.  I have read before on other wedding blogs about how people have spent hours, even days, agonizing over linens and chairs, and I am incredibly grateful to have been spared that process.  And yet we’re still going to have very nice chairs, if I may say so myself.  And then! Our caterer came out to us.  While we’re not out hunting for The Gay Vendors, it is really nice to be able to support other gay people through our celebration of gay love, and that is the most times I will say “gay” in one sentence, I hope.

And fourth, we got our music!  We’re ironing out the details, but we found a group that we love and they are willing to work with us to stay in our (probably too-small) budget!  Their emails are really nice, and they sound excited about our wedding.  And we are excited about our music!

One thing that I’m incredibly grateful for in all of this is how much we like the people we are working with.  The jewelers who designed and will hopefully make our rings are incredibly nice, and were happy to let us try on everything in the store, discussed all of our options, and replied to our emails.  The caterer responds to my emails in about 10 minutes and is very friendly and also excited – and I already talked about how fantastic our band is.  I knew that we would want to work with people that we liked, but the support that we’re getting from these strangers who will be at our wedding, who will be such a big part of our day, is overwhelmingly wonderful.

So, not that anyone asked, but oh well – my advice is, no matter what you’re doing, find someone you love.  Find someone who is excited the way you are excited, and someone that you can be yourself around.  I’ve been so looking forward to marrying Turtle, and to doing it with our friends and family around – but only now am I also really excited about this amazing party that we’re going to be throwing.

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Weekend lessons, or Weddings Are CRAZY

Lesson number 1 of the weekend: if your dog has especially athletic skills, such as the ability to leap six feet in the air from a dead stand-still, it’s probably a good idea to be careful when you ask her to go somewhere near you.  For example, do not try to teach her that a certain space is her bed by leaning over it and saying “bed” while you are standing right next to your actual bed.  Possible outcomes of this scenario include her leaping over the bed you indicated and onto the bed that is yours, connecting the hard part of her head directly with your nose and resulting in blood pretty much everywhere.  Additional possible results include a crooked nose and a debate about whether it’s worth it to go to the doctor.  Next time you see me, see if you can tell which direction my new nose curves in. Or, as Turtle corrects, see if you can tell me in which direction my new nose curves. This is why I love her, people.

my nose totally curves to the left now. stupid nose.

Lesson number two: wedding related stuff is crazy. CUH RAZE E.  This is not necessarily news.  Anyway, we looked at some wedding rings last week – you may have heard – and were talking to my family about it when we learned that this weekend was Wedding Ring Weekend at a store that just so happens to be on the way back home from my parents’ house (where we spent the weekend).  And who doesn’t want to go to a Wedding Ring Weekend?  Okay, don’t answer that.  In all honesty, I try not to attend events with “Wedding” in the title, because it seems that most of these events are far more about the one day and the showiness of it all than they are about a marriage or relationship or the big life changes you are making.  But hey, we need wedding rings, it was on the way home, it seemed worth it to check it out.

The store was FULL of people, and it was hard to even see all the cases at first; there was a lot of waiting around to look in a particular case or to find someone to show us something.  Once we did, we found that some people were super helpful, willing to be flexible with what we wanted (none of that, “What do you mean, no diamonds? You deserve diamonds, hon,” from the salespeople, thank goodness.), and tried to find us things that were similar to what we were expressing interest in.  Side lesson here, another possible-not-surprise: just because an event is not gay-unfriendly, and some of the staff are perfectly nice to us, a clearly lesbian couple, that does not make an event gay-friendly.  One guy was very short with us and would not make eye contact once it was clear that we were looking for matching rings.  Um, no thank you, sir.

At points it just felt like a feeding frenzy.  A very shiny feeding frenzy.  We left empty handed but full of delicious free cake samples, and ready to go back to the cozy little jewelry shop we saw last week.

Lesson number three: getting married is fun.  Or this process of getting married is fun.  It’s fun to work out the kinks and talk through the steps.  It’s fun to look at readings and talk to our families and be excited about this event to celebrate how much we love each other and that we found each other. We had our first session today with the minister who is officiating our wedding, and it was really great.  Everyone should do some sort of counseling like this.  We took a test a couple of months ago that looked at our compatibility around several different issues.  We took the test individually and were not allowed to discuss it until today.  Today, we talked about the things that we matched on, and the things that we answered completely differently.  It was very educational.  One highlight: our minister saying, “You should get married!”

So besides my possibly broken nose and feeling overwhelmed by the swarming weddingclone swarms, this weekend was warm and cozy and lovely. How was yours?

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In Praise of the Process

Today Turtle and I spent two hours looking at wedding ring options.  It was a beautiful day and we had an entire afternoon to play, so we went to several stores to look at what they had.  In the very first store, a very stuffy – ahem, traditional – jewelry shop, one ring caught the eye of both of us.

“Psst, what about that top one on the left?”

“I was just looking at that!”

Just as the stuffy, I mean, kindly gentleman came over to assist us, we both realized that the amazing ring with the simple band and the interesting texture was not, in fact, a ring, but a nickel stuffed into the tray to fill the space of a previously purchased ring. Okay, so at least we have similar taste, right?  We both like the idea of using a nickel for our wedding bands?

On what may seem like a side note but is in fact completely related, I was talking to a friend of mine tonight who said, “If I were getting married, I would take my fiance and both of our sets of parents and we would go to the courthouse and that would be that.”

I admit that this has crossed my mind.  There are lots of very sweet courthouse weddings!  There are aspects of it that appeal to me: the simplicity, the intimacy, the importance of the marriage rather than the flowers (or tablecloths or food or whatever).

But the celebration feels important to me, and to us.  The ritual of it is important.  And what I keep understanding as we continue the planning process is that it’s not just the celebration and the support of our community of family and friends that is important, but it is also important for us to get through this planning process *together*, and to have a wedding that is *ours* and no one elses.

Back to the rings: We found this lovely little shop in a nearby town and found two styles of rings that we loved.  We spent a long time trying them on and looking at similar rings in different materials and styles and widths, and then we left and came back and spent even more time talking to the jeweler about what we could and couldn’t change about each one and how much they would cost in different materials, etc.

Having this conversation with a complete stranger meant that first we had to have this conversation with each other.  We had to say, “Here’s what I’m thinking about spending, and here’s why that seems reasonable.  Here’s what the ring means to me.  What do you think?”  And it turns out that we both had different budgets, we had different aspects of the wedding bands that are important to us, and the rings have different meaning for both of us.  Something as simple as buying a piece of jewelry (or as complicated as buying a wedding band, depending on how you look at it) turned into a few really intense, interesting conversations about money and marriage and celebration.  And this is just one step in the process of putting together our wedding.

Planning a wedding together means checking in with each other a lot.  It means trying to find something that represents *both* of us, and that means sometimes letting go of something that represents just one of us if the other one doesn’t feel that it fits.  It means trying to be ourselves in the most honest way possible while making space for the other person, and I think that this is one of the parts of getting married that is often overlooked, and it is something that I am currently so, so grateful for.

I feel like planning this wedding is not just about one day, but about the life we are creating together.  We are learning how to talk about money more and more, and we are practicing doing it.  We are talking about our beliefs and the writing that we like and the decorations we think are pretty.  We are shopping for shoes.  We are discussing food and drink and music.  It’s really quite wonderful.

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