Love snow

April 6, 2008

It was our six-month wedding anniversary today. And it snowed. Steven drew a little pattern outside the house.

I know this blog is supposed to be about words, but I guess sometimes pictures really do say it more eloquently.

Husband

October 19, 2007

It was an amazing day. It started well when the hotel, one I’d walked past all my life but never been into, upgraded us to the “Presidential” suite. The photographer arrived, followed by the best men, two mothers, a sister and the ushers. The florist popped in to do our buttonholes. The registrar dropped by to run through the ceremony.

Finally, at the allotted hour, we trooped across the road to the museum. Up the stairs, through a long thin room and into the beautiful red gallery where the ceremony was being held. The harpsichord announced our arrival. 90 friends and family members stared and smiled. The registrar introduced us. A friend read a poem. We repeated our vows. Exchanged rings. And signed the register as another friend played a movement from a Bach suite on the cello. I’d been a little frazzled when I first walked in, but Steven was beautiful and radiating joy and that soon restored me. (It also gave the people who hadn’t yet met Steven an immediate insight into why I’m with him.)

And then we trooped out again – this time our friend on the harpsichord lightening the mood with ‘Can’t get you out of my head’. Photos on the staircase, champagne in the sculpture gallery, dinner, cake-cutting, speeches and disco-dancing.

And through it all, as well as the personal significance, the sense that this was part of something bigger. The ceremony itself, the fact that it was conducted by an official registrar and the number of extended family members who’d turned up made it plain that gay relationships are now more accepted than ever before.

We woke up the next morning in our suite (they’d put bathmats on the floor either side of the bed while we were getting married so that our feet wouldn’t have to suffer the indignity of touching carpet) and despite what I said in an earlier post about avoiding the language of traditional marriage, the word “husband” tripped off our lips as the most natural thing in the world.

Love miles

August 27, 2007

It’s official. Going out with someone from the other side of the planet is bad for the environment. Environmentalist George Monbiot coined the phrase ‘love miles‘ to describe the carbon-unfriendly flights we take in the name of love, similar to the ‘food miles’ we accumulate whenever we stick another pack of Kenyan beans or Chilean strawberries in our supermarket trolley.

Steven and I are busy clocking up the love miles. Six months ago, he flew back to the UK to live with me. Then last month he had to fly back to Australia to apply for his ‘propsed civil partnership’ visa. And I, of course, flew with him. For Monbiot, this is an ‘irreconcilable antagonism’ between two moral codes (the one that says you should go because of your relationship and the one that says you shouldn’t because of climate change), but I can’t say there was much antagonism at my end of the check-in queue. What, was I going to make Steven go alone, just for a smidgeon less carbon dioxide?

But the best laid plans, and all that. It turned out we were one document short of an application form, and by the time my bank had sent out what we needed – first to the wrong address, and then to the right one – it was time for me to fly back to London for work, leaving Steven behind.

It’s been three weeks now – and there’s no way of telling how much longer it might be. Sure, we speak and email and text and twitter but, as Joni Mitchell put it, “the bed’s too big, the frying pan’s too wide.”

The only miles that concern me now are the ones that separate us.

Civil partnership

June 5, 2007

Steven and I are planning our civil partnership. It’s a relatively new phrase in the language, so much so, in fact, that a lot of the concepts around it have yet to solidify into actual words, like dust-clouds forming planets round a new sun.

How, for instance, will I refer to my beloved afterwards? My husband? My partner? I doubt I’ll be using the language of the legislation and introducing him as my ‘civil partner’. Bit of a mouthful.

And what about the verb for taking part in the ceremony? So far, I’ve been mainly steering clear of ‘marry’ and opting instead for substitutes such as ‘tie the knot’ or ‘get hitched’. (The official term is the extremely catchy ‘register a civil partnership’.)

But while I (like the legislators) seem to be avoiding the language of marriage, I (like the legislators) am deadly serious about the meaning. Under British law, a civil union has the same legal status as marriage – and I want a ceremony that reflects that.

I want it to be just like any other wedding. I want speeches and photos, I want cold champagne and lukewarm chicken, I want bored uncles and drunken dancing, so that everyone understands that when we say “I do”, the words mean just as much as when anyone else says them.