Life in the Boomer Lane has two longtime friends, Jessica and Louise, who met and fell in love 17 years ago. Back in those Dark Ages, they weren’t allowed to legally marry, and so they had a big, bold, wedding in a friend’s backyard. It was a glorious day. But it wasn’t legal.
In this new era of creeping enlightenment, they planned another wedding for May 19 of this year. In April, Louise converted to Judaism, and so they would be able to be married in a conservative synagogue. Under a chuppah. With a rabbi officiating.
LBL, having attended their first wedding, didn’t want to miss the second. She was the first guest to RSVP. That accomplished, she promptly forgot to write the date down. She believed she didn’t have to, because May 19 was the date of her own parents’ wedding. There was no way she would forget this one.
Except she did.
Several days ago, she had a voice mail message from Louise, telling her that she was missed and that they loved her and that the wedding was amazing. There’s only one thing worse than screwing over a friend and having that friend get angry with you. That’s having that friend love you anyway.
It took LBL several days to respond to the voice mail, after considering various other options which all involved legally changing her name and moving to an undisclosed location. Finally, she called.
She listened to descriptions of the wedding from both newlyweds. Because both parties were women, there was a lot of time spent describing the clothing they wore. But there was also a lot about traditional Jewish ceremonies and non-traditional Jessica and Louise.
Sometime before the wedding day, Jessica’s family called to announce that all five of them would be staying with Jessica and Louise the weekend of the wedding. When Jessica pointed out that their house had three bedrooms and one bathroom, her family responded with, “We think it will be just fine.” And it was.
Because Jessica and Louise got to choose whichever sex they wanted to represent at any given moment, they both dressed like brides but had traditional “groom” gatherings called a Tisch (Yiddish for “table”), before the ceremony, in which friends and family toasted and roasted them. At Louise’s, a nun friend commented that when she first met Louise, she was impressed by her fine ass.
Then, it was on to the ketubah signing. The ketubah is a traditional marriage document. Theirs was created by a well-known artist (unknown to them) who had declared that, in honor of DC legalizing same-sex unions, she would craft a ketubah to the first same-sex couple who would be married in a Jewish ceremony. Jessica and Louise won the ketubah.
Finally, the happy pair stood under the chuppah, the traditional bridal canopy under which Jews are married. The Rabbi faced them. Each of the four poles of the chuppah was held by a friend. Carolivia Herron, an African American lesbian whose book Nappy Hair was banned in New York City Schools for being racist (after parents who didn’t read it got angry) held the southwest corner of the chuppah and told everybody to clap on the off beat.
They smashed wine glasses after the ceremony. Quite successfully. As Louise said, “Two dykes can smash wine glasses just fine—no problem there.”
Before anyone could file out to go to the reception room, Louise took Jessica’s hand, turned toward the guests and broke out into a rendition of “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.” Everyone joined in.
In the reception room, the table décor consisted of beloved books chosen by Jessica and Louise. A wide array of books was represented, following their paths from childhood through adulthood. Both Betsy-Tacy and Angela Davis all made appearances.
At the reception, in the traditional Jewish manner, they were hoisted into the air on chairs, while the guests clapped and danced around them. They were also “cradled,” by a group of guests who had attended a series of transformational workshops with them 17 years ago. (Think of cradling as a more powerful form of a group hug, that occurs off the ground. It is a unique experience.)
What LBL will always remember, though, aside from the fact that she completely forgot to go to the wedding, is that Louise told her the rabbi officiating had been, for years, against same-sex marriages. At Jessica and Louise’s ceremony he said, “Who would have thought 10 years ago that this marriage, in this place, officiated by this Rabbi, would ever occur.”
Who would have thought, indeed.