We woke up early on Friday and packed up all of our stuff in the car for the weekend. We headed to One Judiciary Square to tie the knot before a weekend getaway. I forgot that it was the same day as the March for Life. Finding a parking spot in that area isn’t easy on a regular day, so we drove around for a while until we came upon the one available spot we saw, which happened to be behind the building where we needed to go.
It’s a big building as both wings are labeled “North” and “South,” respectively. Everyone has to pass through security to get inside, and just like being stuck behind a slow car in the fast lane on the highway, I was stuck behind the one guy that just kept pulling odds and ends out of all of his pockets to place in the bins to go through the x-ray machine. Typical, Russ had managed to go around him and was waiting for me on the other side. I should have gone around him, but I kept thinking he was done pulling stuff out. The benefit of the doubt got me nowhere!
When we walked inside the office, the two staff immediately recognized me from three days prior. The young girl smiled, but the guy looked at me with his head tilted, his eyebrows raised; a little suspicious of my presence. I tried to make a joke like, “just my second marriage this week,” but it got stuck in my throat before she explained that I had been here earlier in the week, but was back to self-officiate. Nothing like backfired humor to quell anxiety.
There are only four seats in front of the reception desk, but they were all full with one woman leaning against the wall, presumably next to the party she came with. I like to people watch at airports and try to figure out their stories, and this small office was no exception, made more interesting by their newly-hatched status.
I thought the small, young woman leaning against the wall next to two women was maybe their daughter, except she didn’t look anything like them. She was very thin and appeared Middle Eastern. Of the two women seated near her, one was in her forties and the other was much younger. In every other way they were similar—pale skin, plump, and lots and lots and lots of makeup. I really wanted to stare, which means I didn’t, but I was working my side-eye-without-detection, hard. I still don’t know if it works, but I’m confident that my WASP, people-pleasing, everything-is-perfect-on-the-outside upbringing serves me well in these situations where I want to stare like an unbridled two year-old child. Russ was right. The tiny woman turned out to be their officiant, perhaps their lawyer. (Can you be a lawyer that young?).
The other couple sitting in the chairs was remarkable in the sense that she was 38 weeks pregnant. We know because she said. She was Southern Asian, young, confident, and very chatty with the staff. Her betrothed was very pale and quiet, a little soft and pear-shaped, wearing khakis and expensive cowboy boots. Once again my side eye was working hard, made easier when we sat down next to this couple after the party of three women left. The boots were stare-worthy—khaki suede and black reptile swirled together with intermittent short decorative zippers and metal studs on them. The boots curved into a long pointed toe like the snout of a crocodile.
After waiting twenty minutes or so, they called us back to start the process. We sat down at a big long table, with the notary sitting across from us. I signed our application and signed the notary’s book. Russ just sat there a he had no required tasks.
Then she said, “Ok, now you’re done.”
“Yup,” she said. “Congratulations.”
We walked out to the waiting room on the other side where another couple was waiting for their paperwork to arrive also. The groom was probably in his early thirties giving him a few extra years than his bride. She was quite tall and a good three or four inches taller than her now husband. She was wearing tall, black riding boots that zipped up the back with a tab that snapped at the top. They were either poor-fitting riding boots being way too short for her legs, or they were fashion boots made to resemble riding boots. He was dressed in cowboy gear with wrangler jeans and alligator skin roper boots. They weren’t a couple you’d expect to see in downtown D.C. The only thing that tied them together was the longhorn emblem on her small purse.
They brought us our Marriage certificate to proofread and they hadn’t spelled Russell correctly. They left off the last “L”. This happened twice. They couldn’t fit both of our names on the certificate; therefore it says “J. Simmons and R. Schuessler” have married each other. The date was fill-in-the-blank, with no place for the year on the document anywhere. I added it in anyway as it felt wrong not to. The only thing missing was a glass of wine and then it would have felt like a sip n’ paint party of two. As the officiant, I signed the document and added my home address on the line where it was requested. Russ did not sign his name anywhere during the entire process. If he hadn’t shown his driver’s license, there would be no proof of his participation whatsoever!
We drove three hours to a ski resort to have a romantic weekend. Our condo looked as if it had been furnished by secondhand fraternity-house furniture. We were afraid to sit on the couch or take our shoes off. The bed was paper thin and had likely logged almost as many decades as us. Needless to say, we woke up feeling like we had slept on a thin, old mattress.
Despite an uncomfortable night, I found Russ in the kitchen making coffee and singing Beyoncé, “If you liked it, than you should put a ring on it …”
Bahaha!! Priceless. I was crying laughing.
Needless to say, we stuck it out for two nights on our romantic weekend, but left a day early. We were relieved to get home to our own beds and our “adult” apartment in the city. “Our day” might not have been magical but it sure was memorable! Sometimes it’s so bad or so weird that you just have to laugh, otherwise you’d cry. Next weekend we are having a dinner party of our closest friends and family at one of our favorite restaurants in D.C. Barring an inappropriate drunk person’s comment, it has all the ingredients to be a magical memory for Russ and me! Fingers crossed. Regardless, it won’t be boring!