On the day I married you, I remember the first thing I looked for was your shoes as I walked down the aisle.
Everyone had been in to the “bridal chamber” freaking out that the groom and groomsmen were all wearing the craziest shoes ever and my mom was livid.
“We can go get some black shoes…we still have time. Oh Jody, this isn’t right! They are hideous!”.
“Mom, I made a deal with him that he could pick his shoes. The shoes are here to stay. Get over it”.
We’d had a rough summer with the wedding thing.
When you asked me to marry you, it was a very unconventional proposal. We had started dating in December of 1987, moved in together in August of 1988, and started talking about marriage by Fall of 1989.
You’d had a very, very hard time with a previous relationship. It ended horribly, but that is your story to tell. To put it mildly, marriage was the last thing you ever wanted to do.
With that in mind, December 9th, 1989 started off with a talk in the car about getting married. You abruptly shut the subject down and put me on edge, as was the case each and every time marriage was discussed. We were on our way to go get your boat and sail it down from the marina in Kemah, and it was a miserable, wet, cold day to be doing it. If I remember correctly, it was in the 30’s. The boat had no cabin and the trip took all day. We didn’t get it to Galveston until almost dark, and we were frozen down to the bone.
To warm up we stopped in to the Captains Table to have drinks and dinner. Dinner never happened.
We sat at the bar, and the conversation went back around to getting married (raises hand as the culprit). We spent hours discussing the pros and cons, ordering rum and cokes for you and draft beer for me. We sat on the stools facing each other, the buzz from our drinks hovering seductively between us and our wind chapped cheeks glowing in the muted light. It felt like we were in a pub in England. Cold and wet outside, but warm and dry and candlelit inside. The only thing that could have made the setting more cozy would have been a roaring fire.
You took a drink and said “Okay, here is the thing. If I marry you, what is going to happen is that your mom is going to go nuts with this huge fancy extravaganza and I just cannot do that Jody. I just can’t do it and I won’t”.
I sat stunned. I thought that your reluctance was about marrying me, period. Here you were telling me that it was because you could not handle the circus of a wedding.
You wanted to marry me!
“Billy, we don’t need to have a wedding. We can elope. We can do whatever you want. Just say the word”.
And you hatched your plan. We would get married on April Fools Day 1990, in the mountains of Switzerland, then we would spend a month mountain biking through Europe and camping. What girl could say no to that? This was your way of proposing and it fit just fine with me.
I turned to the bartender and said “Did you just hear that? He asked me to marry him. Um, I believe he has had too much to drink and won’t remember this in the morning.” She smiled, handed us each a refill and said “Oh wow, congratulations. I’ll tell you what. He needs to sign an agreement so he can’t back out of this in the morning.” And she wrote up this note:
She handed me a pen and I scrawled my signature and handed the pen to you. You looked at me, took another drink of rum, smiled and signed your name with a drunken flourish.
I will never ever forget that night. No, you didn’t get down on one knee and profess your love. There were no hearts and flowers. What you did was far braver. You put a heartbreaking past behind you and stepped with one foot gingerly into the future.
We stumbled out of the Captains Table with a different perspective on who we were together.
In the morning, head throbbing, I unfolded both the agreement and the bill. The tip area read “Judge and Notary Fee” and the agreement had the drink tally at the top: 9 rum and cokes and 9 draft beers.
Laughing out loud I handed them to you and said “Look at the drink bill. It took 9 rum and cokes and 9 beers to decide we want to spend the rest of our lives together. Scared much? Here is your moment to wriggle out of it……”
“I’m not backing out. But I am dead serious about no wedding and Europe.” So we made the call to our parents. Do you remember what my dad said? God I love that man. When we told my dad he said “By God, that sounds like the perfect wedding to me. When I married your mom we didn’t have a wedding, but her mother gave us the money we would have spent and we were able to set up our house and life together. I will do the same for you.” ……and then he handed my mom the phone.
She about lost her ever loving, Italian, formal wedding dreaming mind when we told her we would not be having a wedding. I remember her crying and saying, “Your sister didn’t have a wedding and now you! You are being selfish” and I heard my dad say in the background “No Jean, it is YOU who is being selfish”.
When we got off the phone I was in tears. You said “I told you so”.
She is a New Yorker and Italian. Italian weddings are huge because of all the family and they are very elaborate. She wanted that for me….and for her. I did not.
Over the course of days, the phone rang and I was caught in the middle each and every time. In the end, you pulled me to your chest and said “If your mom needs a wedding, we will have a small one. Set the limits Jody, and don’t let it get away from us.”
The date was set and we told her 30 people could come. She died a million deaths. How could she not invite so and so…..The numbers were renegotiated daily until the list hovered near 200. There were plans of flowers, cakes, tuxedos, bridesmaid dresses. What did we want to drink. Beer at a wedding? No, you need wine, champagne and no beer. It became someone elses dream wedding. I let go of the tendril of control I had over the whole ordeal and slowly detached from the plans.
You withdrew and got quiet. You didn’t participate and by June you were acting strange. One night you came to bed and said “I can’t do it. I can’t go through with this. I don’t want to do this anymore. The wedding is freaking me out in every aspect and I just CAN’T do this. Jody, this should be a marriage, not a wedding.” I cried rivers and finally said “I don’t need the wedding. I want you.” It was agreed that I would call my mother to tell her.
The non-refundable deposits. Wedding invitations already printed and ready to mail. I had to call the woman who gave birth to me and was looking forward to this marriage and wedding to tell her it wasn’t going to happen. We were going to get married in Europe. It was pure hell in my head. So many tears, until you said “Don’t call her. Lets just do it, but trim the guest list down. And I get to pick my own shoes to wear….and the groomsmens shoes”.
So, 3 months later there I was, walking with my dad down the aisle. I had to keep pulling his arm to slow him down. He was so preciously nervous. As we got closer I anxiously peered down to see what you had picked out that was causing all the hand wringing. I smiled and rolled my eyes and laughed. I had no idea what the guests thought, but all I could think was “Oh my God. That is sooooo my Billy. They are perfect”. I was never so happy to see you in my life. The shoes were Vision Streetwear, high tops with the word “Vision” in white all over them. When you and your groomsmen kneeled down to take communion, the red, black and white marbled bottoms were there for everyone to see. It was beyond awesome.
The shoes were the 2nd best part of our wedding….the first being you.
And that, my husband, has been how our life has gone ever since. Others chose a wedding over their marriage, and they fell apart.
We chose marriage, and ours has been rock solid. We made history Go Go man.
I remember lying in bed one night, when you were so very sick years ago, and thinking “I am not going to get a 25th anniversary with this wonderful human. I feel so cheated”.
Well, today I have been married to you, my best friend in the whole world, for 25 years. This is the big one, baby. We made it. I know that we already did the big anniversary trip this summer, but I hope we celebrate today in true Billy and Jody fashion.
We sat in that bar more than 25 years ago and hatched a plan. I never in a million years dreamed it could become what it is today.
I don’t need a huge house full of stuff. I don’t need lots of money. I don’t need the hearts and flowers and I didn’t need a big wedding and you on one knee.
All I ever needed was you.