You May Kiss the Bride?
There came a time in my life when I found myself married to my roommate. He wasn’t an immigrant trying to keep his green card. He wasn’t running from the law. He wasn’t the love of my life. In all truth, he wasn’t a “he” at all. Her name was Kelsey, and we’d been friends since ninth grade AP Biology.
I wasn’t in love with her and, as far as I know, she hid no secret passions for me. We had gotten close over panicked phone calls about chemistry homework, over food runs and the school musical and shared friends. When the time came for all of us to go our separate ways, Kelsey and I didn’t. We both went to a small liberal arts college in the middle of Boston, pursuing our dreams and pledging to keep each other motivated along the way.
It was just at the end of the spring semester of our freshmen year when, unceremoniously, Kelsey and I decided we would wed. Our school only allowed seniors to move into off-campus housing, but we were both already fed up with dorm life. Underclassmen could move into their own apartments if they fit one of only a few exceptions. One was to join the military. Another was to have a psychiatrist declare you unfit to live in the dorms anymore. Another was to be married.
We started joking about the idea as we wandered around the city on a Friday night, without direction, without plans, without a care in the world. I started spinning yarns about our wedded bliss, laughing. Kelsey almost shouted in her excitement, “And we could do it, too! Because it’s allowed here!”
I think that’s the moment it really became a possibility. The stupid idea suddenly seemed inviting, just because it could easily become a reality. We could get married. Men and women got married for convenience all the time – why couldn’t two young women make the same kind of arrangement? We could easily pervert the sanctity of matrimony in order to get the apartment of our dreams. No more screaming neighbors, no more singing roommates. We could be free. And, once we graduated, we’d get divorced. No one had to know, and no one would.
That night, back in our room, Kelsey surfed the web for affordable housing in and around Boston. I familiarized myself with the Massachusetts state marriage laws. We avoided each others’ eyes.
Even armed with our knowledge, Kelsey and I clearly didn’t know how to act like a lesbian couple in love. I did all the talking when we got to Boston’s City Hall and we filled out the paperwork in a near silence that should have tipped off the clerk that we were just doing this for shits and giggles (and that beautiful, furnished, two-bedroom in Brookline). When we’d handed everything over and paid our fees, we went back to school as if it were any other day.
And then, we sat back to wait. The three days we were required, by law, to sit on our hands and await our marriage license were tense. We finished off our weekend with a lot of nervous laughter and too much time on our laptops, and after classes on Monday, we went back to City Hall to get our license. We had sixty days to plan our wedding.
We both agreed that it would be a simple affair. It was getting nice out, so we could both wear sundresses. No princess gowns, no veils – no white. We would save that for later, when the marriage actually mattered. We didn’t bother inviting anyone, because no one wants to be present at a sham. We didn’t order flowers or rent a room for our reception. We thought about finding a Justice of the Peace, something quick and simple, but we didn’t want to be seen wandering in and out of City Hall too much.
Kelsey and I found ourselves, a week and a half later, standing at the altar at the Baptist church on Tremont Street, both of us just trying not to laugh. We didn’t have any official guests, but a few of the regular parishioners appeared early for a late day service and cried for us, anyway.
“Then by the power vested in me by God and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” the preacher announced, “I know pronounce you married.” Someone at the back of the church gave a rejoicing wail, as another blew her nose mightily into her husband’s handkerchief. The preacher grinned down at us, expecting us to be jumping up and down in wonder and joy at the journey to come. “You may kiss the bride.”
I stared at Kelsey. She stared back. We hadn’t thought this far ahead. But did you really have to seal the deal with a kiss? Honestly. So old fashioned. I stuck out a hand and she sighed in relief. Kelsey took my hand and we shook on it. She was my wife. And now we could live wherever the hell we wanted next semester.