On May 1st of this year—Beltane—Greg and I eloped. I’d settled on the day because on the pagan calendar it’s the time when “sweet desire weds wild delight,” and May is a month burgeoning with hope and dewy new things yet to reveal themselves. Even though we’d been together almost eight years, marriage seemed like a mysterious continent for me, the cowgirl who’d lived a solitary life for so long.
That morning, we see the first hummingbird of the season—late this year because of so much snow, but as always I know it to be a sign–the return of hope and joy on the mountain. As we set out for the peeper pond, the little wet land behind the Overland Mountain cabin I wrote about in Rough Beauty, a strong spring wind rakes clouds across the sky and a blow-over threatens. Still, the day feels oddly perfect with its blustery blue skies and fast-moving clouds.
We picked the spot because we’d spent so many glorious afternoons there when our love was in its first bloom and all of our days were gold-lit and lovely. Then, there was poetry and champagne, chocolate and kisses. Sometimes I read or wrote while Greg painted. We picnic and napped in the sun.
On this May day, patches of snow jig-saw the landscape and the air is flat out chilly. I spot a hawk, then one eagle and another as we drive, listening to a cd Greg made me when we first met, with songs from Mumford and Sons, Patti Smith, the Avett Brothers, She & Him.
We stop near Overland Mountain and hike around the pond which is full and melting to a spot near a rock outcropping looking northwest and includes a view of the pond below and Sawtooth Mountain above. The ritual is simple: poetry and chocolate and kisses. Champagne will have to wait. A traditional May Day basket becomes our Marriage Basket filled not with flowers and gifts but symbols of the partnership we’ve forged. We take a few pictures and scatter wildflower seeds, reluctant to linger in the wind.
As soon as we get back to the truck, the fat, wet flakes begin to blow horizontally with the wind.
We drive north to Estes Park, stopping for lunch at a new restaurant that doesn’t serve bad tourist food. It’s early in the season and the place is deserted except for two cowboys drinking cranberry and vodkas at the bar.
“Hullo!” they bellow as I pass by, waving me over. “You’re all dressed up!”
I look down at my jean jacket and long spring green dress and harness boots.
When I tell them Greg and I are newly married, they leap up and hug me, unofficial members of the wedding party.
“Congratulations!” They shout at me and then Greg. “They just got married,” they tell the bartender, a refrain they’ll repeat to anyone who walks in the door.
The first champagne is on the house.
We have a lovely lingering lunch with more champagne and then escape to a bed and breakfast—also deserted–with a two person tub and fireplace in the bedroom for the night.
Nearly six months later, Greg and I still have trouble saying “husband,” and “wife.” I’m far more comfortable calling him my partner. He still calls me his girlfriend.
And I think that’s because we came to this thing between us relatively late in life and because our partnership doesn’t inhabit the realm of family making or even settling down. Greg and I have always had the feeling that we’re forging some kind of new territory—for each of us individually and together. And even though I was the one who wanted to get married, I never wanted to be a wife, which I suppose is a term loaded with memories of the brutal hierarchy of husbands and wives I’d seen so much growing up.
Someone told me the other day that they thought I was happier since I’d gotten married. I don’t necessarily feel so—though it’s true I am happy. I think it has more to do with building a life with Greg in the mountains in a house we both love, the first house either of us has ever owned, than it has to do with the state of matrimony itself. Though the ground feels a bit more secure beneath my feet—and that’s a new feeling.
For now I’m on the lookout for dewy new things, which is to say that I’m content to watch what will grow from what we’ve planted, to embrace the this life I’ve chosen, the one Greg and I are living together.