Monday, November 27, 2006

joining the union

This one's for Chani, who got me thinking.

We hadn't been together for very long before M decided to join us. And getting pregnant didn't make us want to get legally married - we are both of the mindset that we don't need a judicial system to help us define our love and commitment so the idea of a wedding or marriage wasn't something that we'd put on the table as a result of M.

However, her appearance made us realize we wanted to do something to communicate to the world that we'd become a family. We decided that we'd both change our names to a name that fits how we want to live our lives. We labored for months about the right name, and at one point were fairly well set on an acronym for a phrase we like: Truth and Love in Action. Talia sounded like a terrific last name until I (thanking the almighty) said it out loud in a sentence.

Hi, I am Jen Talia. Or worse, Jenny Talia. Nice to meet you.

And we were THIS CLOSE to filing the paperwork. I'll wait till you are done laughing at our stupidity before continuing. Needless to say we went with another option.

Anyways, we were trekking around Central America during my 2nd trimester, feeling the need for a trip before our world changed. While we were in Belize J-Dog started acting a bit suspiciously - disappearing for a while, hushed conversations, etc. I knew something was up but I had no idea what.

One morning he said he had a surprise. We walked over to the ocean and a catamaran was sitting on the dock. He had rented it to take us out into the Caribbean, complete with two old and salty Belizean sailor types. The day was perfect. Water a deep turquoise, visibility for miles. J-Dog asked me to sit down and be serious. I started to giggle and fidget.

He pulled out a piece of paper and a small bag. He had written the most beautiful words about love and partnership and about how he was committed to making this life with me, about how much he loved me and the baby inside, and invited me to make a family with him, for better and worse. He opened the bag and had some wooden rings inside, a few different and inexpensive pieces, yet they suited me perfectly. He said I could wear or not wear them, but knew I liked variety and wanted me to have choices. They were lovely, his words were lovely, and at one point he asked me if I would be his life partner, and I said yes.

He then stood up and yelled to the old Belizean men "She said YES! She said YES!" and they whooped and cheered and brought over a plastic tub of rum punch and toasted our happiness.

Simple, private, and perfect.

We've realized since that while this has made us happy, at some point we might like to have a celebration of sorts - not sure yet what we'd call it - that our friends and family can attend. We'd like to wait till M is a bit older, so she'll remember it and can participate. For now, we have done exactly enough to suit us.

That doesn't mean we don't have to defend our decision to family, or that folks don't get confused when I call him my partner or because of our last name, assume we're married and call him my husband. And none of it matters, because he is all of those things to me anyways. It doesn't mean it'll always be this way, or that we won't choose something else later. It just means we're playing it loose.

He’s the warmest chord I ever heard
Play that warm chord, play and stay baby
We don’t need no piece of paper
From the city hall
Keeping us tied and true
- Joni Mitchell


Jo said...

How much more it means when we celebrate for ourselves and not for others. It doesn't matter if the world understands the connection between you and your partner and what you need or don't need to recognize it. What matters is that each of you know what is in front of you and how valuable it is. Congratulations to you both for seeing clearly what is important, yourselves and your family. So sweet:)

Anonymous said...

Jo beat me to it! What does it matter what others think? A label such as husband or wife in and of itself has no meaning except for what we attach to it. You have decided for yourselves what those labels mean and have the courage to do so. You sound like truely special people.

Mrs. Chicky said...

That was a beautiful story. It seems like you two were meant to be and no judge or person of the cloth needs to remind you of that.

meno said...

I would have liked to change our last name to the same one also, but ocviously it wasn't that important to me because we never did it. But i think it's the perfect solution.
Nice story. And your living situation allows for change, which is the one thing that life will provide.

Anonymous said...

What a great story - so romantic but at the same time so heartfelt and genuine.

It is ok that people are confused - it just gives you the opportunity to talk about your decision and you might open someone's eyes to an alternative that they embrace.

Getting married is such a personal decision that I am always surprised at how much other people insert themselves not only into another couple's "day", but their lifetime decisions.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen,
My husband and I lived common-law for 10 years before getting married at the City Hall on our 10th anniversary. We didn't really think we needed to get married per se but by that point we owned so much common property (including a house) that we felt we either needed a marriage certificate or a will to protect our rights. The former seemed so much more chipper. We also eventually got wills as well. In the end, I was happy for the small sense of ceremony the event afforded. It wasn't a boat in Belize but it worked for us.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's gorgeous. It's beautiful that you are both on the same page about your commitment to each other.

We chose to get married after living together for five years... It wasn't important to me until I met SD, but then it was important... mostly for the ceremony, the celebration, the publicly declaring our love and commitment and involving our families in it... and we had a great time on our wedding day. I loved everything about that day. I do plan to post more about our wedding and the things we chose to include in our celebration because we chose everything together, no one else really interfered with out plans.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful celebration with us. I love it when people THINK about what they really want.
There's something about wedding planning, and that stereotypical female who has been dreaming since she was five that makes me think I am missing a few chromosomes.

Anonymous said...

I think 'Marriage' can be what WE want it to be...what it means to matter if we had legal papers or a church blessing.

If two people agree to share their lives together....that is a partnership...and a marriage of minds.

And love.

lildb said...

oh, you KNEW I was thinking of that very line when you began this post. I heart that song.

my old man is still the same to me, whether we've acquired the trappings of what our society defines as "tradition." I'll always think of him as the guy I lived with for several years without the heavy weight of paper to convince everyone else of what we already knew to be true.

and I appreciate your sharing the story of your special union with J and M.

thank you, Jen (not Talia).


mrs.incredible said...

This has to be my all-time favorite post of yours. Just when I think a previous post can't be topped, you'll come out with something like this.
I Think I'm In Love ;)

PunditMom said...

That's a wonderful story. M. will enjoy hearing that over and over again, I'm sure.

Therapy Doc said...

Aw, that was beautiful. I feel like I was there.

Anonymous said...

Well, great story.. and, just for the record, I don't think "Talia" is all that bad. Still, a wonderful thoughtful way to create a partnership.

Aaaah. We need more of this. :)



Anonymous said...

Everyone's comments are so lovely, but they leave me wondering if I'm the only immature non-romantic who is still laughing uncontrollably about the the idea of Jenny Talia? It doesn't get better than that, and it doesn't get sweeter than the story that followed :)

KC said...

I think the idea of the acronym is so sweet, Jen, even though.

What a romantic story- it feels me with joy to read it.


Anonymous said...

We wrote our ceremony ourselves and had friends officiate it. We also had pledges to public service, gay marriage and justice in it.

I was DYING about Jen Talia. My girlfriend was set on naming her son Oscar until she realized her last name was very close to weiner.

jen said...

But are you guys saying the name out loud?

Jen Talia? Jenny Talia?


Anonymous said...

Oh, the fun you could have had with Jenny Talia.

Love the story of your union - absolutely beautiful. We also skipped the traditional ceremony and made our marriage legal with a visit to a JP.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I got the 'genitalia' when I read Jenny Talia there on the page. I giggled. Out loud. That could have been verrrry ugly.

Your 'proposal' story is lovely. What a thoughtful man you have found. And I love the fact that you did pick out a name together. It's important to be comfortable with your life, how you're living it, and the decisions you make. It sounds like you're there.

(Of course, with that being said, I have to admit the lawyer in me is screaming about social security and pension entitlements, property issues, hospitalization issues, having your relationship recognized in other countries you may move to... I'm rather a practical girl at heart I'm afraid. Don't hate me.)

Anonymous said...

That is incredibly romantic and yet practical. I find that the only thing that changes with a ceremony is that family members view you as a couple differently.

Whew, close one on almost last name! Giggles...

Anonymous said...

Jen, yes... I got it. I just thought it was kind of clever.. but, no, I wouldn't recommend using it. LOL

My post going down in a few minutes. Another dud. LOL


Anonymous said...

I love this post! I love that you both have found someone who is so in tune with what is right and true.

AND now I am dying to know what name you picked!! :)

Deezee said...

From funny to downright beautiful.

I guess the 'legalization' aspect only jumps to the forefront of my mind when things like hospital visitations and other complexities pop up.

The ceremony that your partner crafted and the way you share it is just so magical. (I want to see a picture of the wooden rings!)

Momish said...

This brought tears to my eyes! I am so glad I read this post after feeling like I have gotten to know you or the true beauty of it would not have been so pure for me.
P.S. Our wedding was after our daughter's birth. I loved having her there and cherish every wedding picture she is in. It was the best way!

flutter said...

*still giggling @ Talia*

How lovely and perfect for you, to have celebrated and continuing to celebrate your love this way

acumamakiki said...

The acronym Talia is too funny, esp. if you were called Jenny. (=

I love your commitment to one another and I love that it's confusing and makes people stop and think. I think most people are far too cavalier about marriage and jump too quickly so I say, whatever works for you, go for it.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful relationship you two have... I love that you chose your own last name (although relieved you decided against Talia just in time!)

Crankmama said...

And that's my favorite album of all time.. I can hear Joni crooning now...


Juliness said...

Truly beautiful post. Isn't it amazing when you find that person who takes the time to KNOW you? Not their version of you or what they want you to become...just you. Many blessings to you all!

Anonymous said...

I laughed at the Jen Talia too but then I was so swept off my feet by J-Dog and his planning and scheming and the ultimate surprise that I forgot about it. Yes, that would have been truly giggle-worthy. Definitely an ice breaker tho!

Penny said...

Heyyyy.. I don't know what happened to my comment.. I left one here yesterday, and returned to catch up on everyone elses and mine didn't post.

Well, Jen - Yesterday, I have a mouth full of coffee and when I got to Jenny Talia - it call came splooshing out all over the keyboard. I couldn't stop imagining introducing oneself as Jenny Talia everytime I came in contact with someone yesterday - people must have thought I was nuts! A great laugh.. all day long for me.

And, a great story. I love the variety of the rings. I love that. Very thoughtful and sweet. Did you pick one? Or a few? Or all? What does it look like?

s@bd said...


wordgirl said...

*sigh* Can I just say what a wonderful story that was? You know, some people get married and others don't. A piece of paper doesn't mean nearly as much as the intent of the two people who embark on the life together. You two sound as though you've got it figured out.

ecm said...

Beautiful, beautiful story. Great post!

carrie said...

I have a good friend who just officially "tied the knot" with her partner after 13 years and 2 kids later! They did it for their kids and it was beautiful, but you know, their relationship was beautiful before too!!

Love your story!


Anonymous said...

Awe thats so sweet! I like the ring!

Ruth Dynamite said...

You guys are courageous - yes, that's the word. Not to mention insightful, smart, and cool. Incredibly cool.

And the whole boat thing pretty much defines the word romantic.

crazymumma said...

oh Jen...that was beautiful. What a well thought out match made in heaven (for lack of a better word) you are for each other. M is going to be magnificent in the glow you both cast.

Jen Talia...damn woman, that is RIPE!