Previously on Nayrotica…
The next morning I awoke feeling fresh and chipper. I was ready to knock these classes out of the park and face the day with smiles and glee. I texted my new favorite person in the world a simple good morning text and then readied myself with the daily pampering (shower, teeth brushing). I started thinking about the high dose of the anxiety/depression medication I had been on for many years, Vitamin Z, and as I vigorously scoured my teeth I stared into the mirror at someone who thought it was time to adjust the dosage (of course without the assistance of a doctor). So that day, and for every day that followed while I was in Europe, I decided to reduce my intake by 50%.
Throwing caution (and doctor’s orders) to the wind, I was off to my first class. As I listened and occasionally contributed to a discussion on political violence and/or torture with regard to the framework of the law that surrounds it, my mind floated from one cloud to the next. With each new comment in the classroom, I was brought back to reality, but only long enough to hear the hum of a fly outside, or a lawnmower in the distance. And so my studies were underway, my romantic life was also picking up speed, and my focus was starting to blur.
The fella and I chatted multiple times per day. Whether it was over text message, FaceTime, or telephone, we found ways to be in touch on a regular basis. Every time we spoke, we became closer and more vulnerable to the idea of being in each others’ lives, even if that meant from a distance for starters. A few days into our acquaintance, we were running out of ways to say, “I really, REALLY like you…” Classes were in full swing and I was finding my Polish routines. It was then, maybe five days or so after we had met that he made a bold move while we stared at each other over FaceTime.
“I need to tell you something,” he began. “I have been thinking– and I don’t like holding back what I have to say when I want to say something. And this has been on my mind, so I want to just come out and say it.” Gulp. This could either be really good or really bad, I thought to myself. “So, what I am trying to tell you is… I love you. I am falling in love with you. And it doesn’t feel weird. I do. I really love you.”
This was unprecedented; I was the one who usually broke the mold and allowed someone to hear me utter those words nearly immediately. I was absorbing the information, probably appearing like a deer in headlights. He continued, “And you don’t have to say anything in return, but that is how I feel. So it is not necessary for you…”
“I LOVE YOU, TOO!” I shouted.
His eyes crinkled as he turned his mouth upward into a generous and loving smile. “You don’t have to feel obligated to say it,” he reassured me.
“No, I don’t. I love you, too. And I have been thinking it, but didn’t want to make it weird. But you know, now it doesn’t have to be weird, because we both said it. And it sounds like we both meant it. So. Yeah.”
We both shared a light giggle, then he went on, “Well, for the record… I said it first.” He laughed. “Just to be clear.” He continued is light tone, interspersed with a chuckle and I noted aloud that he was correct in his observation of who said what first. His talking points went on, “And remember when we first chatted on Scruff, and you said ‘marry me’?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I remember.”
He beamed, “I would. Marry you.”
My teeth were unable to hide behind my lips now. “Yeah?”
“Yes. I would. We have something special, so why not do it? Just for us.”
He was right. We did have something special. I started thinking about the idea of a wedding– and I was instantly onboard. I had previously rejected the institution of marriage, but was suddenly warm to the idea of creating a space in the world where my husband and I could call our own.
“Okay. Let’s do it,” I said. “Let’s get married!”
The video call ended soon thereafter, and I was having a hard time containing my excitement– I chatted with some of my new friends in Poland about it, and they were thrilled. Ecstatic! Shooting questions at me faster than I could dodge, I knew none of the answers because the fella and I had yet to discuss any of the details. We just decided to do it– and the rest would be left for future conversations. It was happening. I was going to get married. And so, with all of my colleagues’ questions in my head, it was time to start making decisions.
I was soon back on the phone with him, and started to think aloud about what to tell my friends and family. “They are all very important to me, so I will want to let them know what’s happening, right?” I asked him. He told me that it was up to me. What mattered to him was what it meant to us, not to the rest of the world. I agreed, but was also reticent to make a huge life choice without telling (much less consulting) my near and dear. Again, he reiterated that it was up to me how much and with whom to share with my people. I understood his point, but I also knew that if I didn’t let people know, it would feel like I was, in a way, betraying my relationships. I settled on telling my family and a few close friends; after deciding to tell a select group, I clued my beau in. He reminded me that he wants this to be for us and that he doesn’t want it to be littered with the stories that weddings can become– the outside influences and reasons people get married. I told him I got it, and insisted that I just needed to let a few people know.
When I was off the phone, I sent a few emails to my people– and I received a range of responses, all mostly positive. People were genuinely supportive, but some were also a bit reluctant in their full blessing for the upcoming nuptials. And understandably so! I mean, I hadn’t been in touch since leaving the U.S., and now I was announcing my marriage?! I get it; some were skeptical and even doubted the facts of the email. But, I reassured everyone that I was not making it up, nor was I being held against my will and being forced to marry a man that I had recently met. It was a choice I was making… one that I maintained was well thought out.
Days went by and the emails kept coming in, some in with discussion points and some with simple congratulations. I also continued chatting with my comrades in Poland about it, and they had what seemed to be a great idea. One of them said, “Why don’t you get married here? We can throw you a wedding!” I had not even considered this option as I barely knew these people with whom I was living in Poland (but then I didn’t know the man I was about to marry either!), so it made sense! Respecting the wishes of my fiancé, I insisted that we keep it small and intimate, however. I didn’t want it to turn into a big ordeal, and before any decisions were made, I wanted to take a moment to discuss it with my betrothed.
FaceTime was becoming a new normal for me, and while we were on the call, I presented him with the idea about the wedding. His jaw dropped and he said, “You’re kidding. That’s great!” So, with that, we began to discuss the actual possibility of a wedding happening in Poland… and dates for the ceremony. We settled on the weekend before the end of the program: Friday, July 24, 2015. I researched tickets for him to come to Poland, started chatting with my pals at school. and the wedding planning was well-underway. And with each moment of each day that passed, and the wedding got closer, more and more excitement built on campus and at the “hotel”– and it was getting a bit grander than anticipated. The month was flying by and suddenly it seemed like there were people assigned to every part of the wedding– the wedding planning was no longer in my hands, nor in the hands of my future husband. Oh god. What have I done?? It was then that I realized… I had created WeddingZilla. But I did not want to be unappreciative of all the work everyone was doing, so I allowed the spiral to occur, even getting caught up in it. After all, it was my wedding… so why not enjoy getting swept up in the revelry? Just a little bit…
I started to invest in the idea of a grand and produced wedding, and when discussing it with the fella, I sensed it was starting to eat away at his nerves. By this time, it was days before the wedding, and the preparations were nearly complete– there was an officiant in place, a musician, a catered reception with decorations, best man, videographers, and more! And that was all thanks to the amazing people who were in my program… and also the institution that was sponsoring the summer program abroad was taking care of getting a cake for the wedding! This was all not at my request, but out of the goodness of their hearts… honestly. And thinking about it now makes me tear up– they all put in so much hard work, time, and even their own money into the wedding, that there was no way I could let any feelings of it getting too big interfere with the moment that we were going to share with each other that upcoming Friday.
Two days before the ceremony, I decided it was my turn to make a bold move. I didn’t want to be secretive about my pending engagement; it’s just not my style. So, I went to Facebook and made an announcement via the Relationship Status portion of my profile. When I changed my hidden single status to Engaged to The Fella, it certainly caught a lot of people’s attention. But it hadn’t caught my future husband’s attention yet, so I FaceTime’d him and said, “Hey, have you been on Facebook lately?” He hadn’t… but then he logged on while we were on the flat-glass looking at each other. Once again, his jaw was on the floor. I was excited to share this news with him, and walked him through the process of how to approve it so that it would become visible on his profile too. I had really let the cat out of the bag– and that was a key moment in the timeline of “us.”It was then that I recall feeling drunk on love and it was officially not just for us anymore; it was for the world. I hadn’t thought about the magnitude with which that simple and benign action would affect each of us, but it certainly made an impact. No longer was this a quiet wedding, but it was akin to Kate Middleton and that William guy. Our conversation wrapped up shortly after that– he was speechless. I was sweating from the excitement. I chalked the stilted nature of our conversation that evening to pre-wedding jitters; no big deal.
The next day, we chatted again. When I checked in about how he was feeling about everything, he told me that he had received a lot very lovely emails and messages about the engagement, but had concerns about the announcement. I felt like my throat was closing and wanted to understand his perspective. I asked what he meant…
He reminded me of what we discussed– a marriage that was just for us.
I remember him telling me that he was at a loss when asked about me or how we met or who I was or how long we had been together…
A private affair.
I remember telling him that I had to answer the same questions and that I simply told people the truth– that we just met and that we were going for it…
Devoid of pomp and the stories that can emerge and attach to weddings.
I remember thinking that I had fucked up…
Something that was just for us.
I remember apologizing repeatedly and asking him if he was still going to get on the bus the next day for the wedding. His wedding. My wedding…
The world didn’t have to know just yet.
I remember telling him that I would delete the entire post and announcement and that I would fix it and that I hope he can forgive me and that the last thing I wanted to do was upset him…
It wasn’t about the post, it was about the person he met and the person he was currently talking to.
I remember him reiterating to me that he wanted this to be about us, and not the story of us or the wedding…
He told me that we wasn’t sure that it was what he wanted.
I remember crying. A lot…
We exchanged a few more words and hung up the call. I hoped he would not change his mind about marrying me between that moment and the next morning, which is when he was to scheduled to come to Poland for the wedding– and if I could just get him to Poland, then we could have a day to check in and reset before the actual nuptials. He was due to arrive on a Thursday, and I was feeling fragile beyond belief. I went back to my computer in my bedroom, opened Facebook, and deleted the engagement announcement. It was too much; I had gone too far. So there I sat, hiding my happiness from Facebook, and hiding my swollen, red eyes from my cohort. I splashed cold water on my face and readied myself. I emerged from my room, descended the stairs and walked back into the lobby. I looked around me and everyone was gathered, beaming smiles at me, gearing up for the event of the summer: a gay wedding in Poland.
I held my breath, not exhaling a word of any of the discomfort or conflict to the rest of the people who were in full-on preparation mode. I was ready to answer their questions:
Nay, do you want white flowers? Or is that too cliché?
Nay, what are you wearing? Do you need anything from town? I need to go in– let me know.
Nay, are there any foods you don’t want at the reception?
Nay, what’s your first dance going to be?
Nay? Nay? Nay? Nay?
They all wanted answers, and little did they know that I had none. I wanted to know if I was still getting married.
The next morning I awoke earlier than usual, glancing at my phone. No messages. I mustered a smile and engaged in some positive self-talk, “No news is better than bad news!” Ok, so it wasn’t super positive, but it was the best I could muster. I sent the groom-to-be a message reiterating that I was very sorry and that I was very much looking forward to seeing him later that day. He eventually responded and let me know that he was still planning on making the trip; A blanket of relief swaddled my body. I drank copious amounts of coffee that morning and went to class, but had to leave early due to the arrival of my future husband. Especially now, I wanted to make sure I was at the gravel parking lot to greet him and guide him to Glowny and beyond.
I sat on the curb until the bus pulled up in front of me. I stood up and looked at each person with an unparalleled intensity; I studied each face and was desperate to find the fella. The steady flow of people eventually became a trickle… and then the trickle became a single drop here and there. And then there was a drought. No more people emerged from the bus. The driver got back on the bus and the it drove off.
To be continued.