6 Month Wedding Anniversary

On March 19, 2008, the Ukrainian and I wed in San Francisco’s city hall. We only had 4 friends in attendance. After the ceremony ended, I was uncertain about whether or not we should tell anyone we were married. After all, we had a ceremony planned for July for our American friends and family and yet another one still planned for Kiev for our Russian Orthodox ceremony. San Francisco’s City Hall  ceremony was merely a kickstart — a means in which to get rolling on the process to convert my husband’s student visa to a greencard. The sooner he got his green card, I figured, the sooner he could get a high-paying job and the sooner we could try for a baby.

Many people do not consider our March 19 wedding a wedding. They tell others we were just married in July. This is true a bit. There is definitely something about standing up in front of your family and friends to declare your vows that makes you feel a bit more married than doing so in private. But on March 19 we were legally married. On the morning of March 19, my case of nerves and cold feet hit full-force as I wondered whether or not I actually could marry this man. There could be no such nerves in July as we were already married.

Exactly 6 months have passed since that March morning. We have done a lot since then. I will catalog them here:

* We made it to City Hall in time for the ceremony. I changed into my wedding dress in the parking lot. And we both said “Yes” and “I do” at the appropriate places.

* Over the next few days, I walked around a bit numb, shocked that my commitment-phobic self had gottent married. “Can you believe it?” I kept asking. “We’re married.” I kept repeating over and over. Suddenly, I realized, if something went wrong, we’d have to get an actual divorce. There’d be paperwork to filed. Lawyers to be hired. I couldn’t just throw him out over some little tiff.

* In April, my grandmother passed away. The ensuing family drama distracted me from any thoughts about the gravity of my marriage. Instead, I was glad to have the Ukrainian around as he didn’t judge my more dysfunctional branches to my family life.

* By May, I was feeling better. With some free time on my hands, I started this blog.

* We kicked the month off as a couple together by searching for a place to have our July public wedding ceremony. We failed.

* Also in May, was the Ukrainian’s 31st birthday. We celebrated by taking the dogs and ourselves on a daytrip to Tahoe. We ended up in Carson City, Nevada.

* The Ukrainian began his internship in May. As the position was unpaid, he kept his part-time job at the library in order to have some semblance of income.

* And finally, in May, we had our engagement party as well as my bachelorette party and bridal shower. A very good college friend of mine from NYC flew out as did my preggers sister. Among some of the presents we received, a friend of the Ukrainian’s gave us a blender. You can’t really be married without a blender.

* We began wedding planning in earnest. Or rather we tried to plan our wedding for July. But none of the pieces fit together and we weren’t successful at getting our permits, finding the priest, etc. Tensions between us started to mount. By this time, the free time I had at work was coming to an end, and I had to work evenings and weekends, further adding to the stress of planning the wedding.

* In early June, I went back East for my grandmother’s memorial service and then headed up to NYC to work from the NY office. One of my bosses was not keen about this trip further adding to our stress. I started to look for a new job while in NYC (but for positions back on the West coast). And I stopped in Chicago on the way back to San Francisco’s to attend my 10 year college reunion.

* When I returned to San Francisco, we again tried to get the arrangements for the wedding in order. We hired a priest. A bagpiper. A drummer. I found a dress (with only 3 weeks to spare until the wedding). The chapel. Slowly, the pieces were coming together, but the expenses were mounting. The stress between us rose all the more.

* I continued my job interviewing and received a fabulous offer that I accepted. But even with this offer in hand, I didn’t have it in me to say the word “no” and mean it to my current employer when asked to work on the weekend. I wondered how on earth the wedding was going to get pulled off. While we had the big pieces in place, we had to pick out the flowers, the cake, schedule the trolley, and 1 million other little details that seem incomprehensible even now — a mere 2 1/2 months after the wedding.

* I quit my job.

* The Ukrainian and I saw little of each other. He was (and still is) working 2 jobs.

* I found a dress. A $1200 Max Azria beauty that fit perfectly right off the rack.

* I shopped for jewelry and a veil and became an instant expert at all-things wedding in San Francisco.

* In a pure stroke of Yelp serendipity, I found a chapel for us to marry in. The Ukrainian checked it out and approved.

* I spent something like 15 hours picking out our flowers. The florist was Ukrainian too.

* I spent almost 5 hours at the bakery designing the cake.

* I spent untolds amount of time and money on the hair, the make-up and so on and so forth.

* The Ukrainian and I took dance lessons.

* My family arrived. We dined at the Beach Chalet.

* The Ukrainian borrowed an IPod and planned our wedding soundtrack.

* The wedding happened. Everything went off without a hitch — sort of. I was too tired to have a clue as to what was going on. But it was beautiful — according the pictures.

* I slept for almost a week after the wedding.

* I started a new job.

* The Ukrainian’s work authorization and travel parole arrived.

* The Ukrainian’s employer started paying him a small bit.

* A rather unfortunate colossal perfect storm left our bank accounts empty just as rent was due. We found the money without borrowing any and made the rent, but then went on the extreme austerity plan.

* We hiked Mt. Tam.

* I ate and ate while stressing about the new job. All the while the Ukrainian continued to work his 2 jobs and begin revising his resume for a better one.

* We received our letter from the INS (USCIS) inviting us in for our green card interview. Yay!

* 2 days later we received a letter from the INS canceling our green card interview. Utter despair.

* We find out the INS thinks we have moved to Brooklyn. We haven’t and try to make the correction.

* We took a mini-honeymoon to Seattle. September arrived.

* I left for the East Coast (again!) for over a week. I missed the Ukrainian and San Francisco terrible.

* The Ukrainian got a raise!

And then, yesterday, our 6 month anniversary. We exchanged no proper presents. We had no cake nor champagne. But the Ukrainian did give me a card all wrapped up in a pretty gift bag with a pretty bow. And, afterwards, we went for a walk with the doggies to Dolores Park. We discussed the Ukrainian’s raise. When would it be enough to support a baby, we wondered. Do we really want one? How much do we want to risk as I push closer and closer to the big 35.

And then the Ukrainian said, “I think we should start trying now. Not in 6 months. But now.”

We will make the money work out.

Hopefully, the green card will too.

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Wedding Planning Part 2 — The perfect wedding location search causes anxiety

The tensions rose. Imperceptibly, at first. But time, as it always does, brought a new wave of “issues’. But there was no time for resolutions. Not with my traveling for a funeral. The Ukrainian’s working of two jobs. My search for a new job and the demands of my current one.  The wedding was less than 6 weeks away and I wondered how we could pull it off. Some problems seemed to have no answers, and no amount of time or lack thereof would fix them.

“Sylvia still has not issued our permit to get married in Alamo Square,” the Ukrainian writes over Google Instant Messenger aka GTalk. Sylvia is the women in charge of issuing group gathering permits for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. Without her approval, we can’t conduct a wedding ceremony in any public city space in the City of San Francisco. Nevermind the fact, that technically and legally, we are already married — the very presence of a priestly-looking dude (whom we found on rentapriest.com, no kidding) is asking for a visit from the San Francisco Police Department to our wedding celebration just as the Ukirainian is about to pull me in the official kiss of the youmaykissthebridekss.

“Has she cashed the check yet?” I ask, trying to figure out the delay. Emails and phone calls are pouring…what time is the wedding?…where is it?…what time do we need to be there?…Our wedding is in 6 weeks and I have no answers. Only the priestwhoisnolongerapriestbutrentsouthisservices can commit to a wedding date that has no formal venue. I have a feeling he doesn’t declare his priestly pay for mock religious duties to the IRS, and as such, doesn’t really care much.

“No, she hasn’ cashed it.”

The days keep passing and still our wedding permit does not arrive. I become anxious, wanting to have the locale of our wedding finalized so I can continue on with the rest of the plans. But the anxiety also becomes worse, because with each day that passes, I increasingly realize I do not want to get married at Alamo Square.

“Baby, let’s get married somewhere else,” I tell the Ukrainian.

“Where?” he asks. He’s also anxious, but much of the anxiety stems from his desire to make and keep me happy.

“I don’t know, but not Alamo Square.”

“Why not? It’s a really nice park.”

“I know but I don’t want to get married there. I want to get married at Eagles Point at Lands End. Or somewhere else along the water.”

“We can’t baby. The federal government won’t let us.”

Stupid Department of Homeland Security, I curse. We had applied weeks ago for a permit to marry to marry at Eagle’s Point at Lands End but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security apparently felt our small wedding celebration was too risky of a threat to the National Security on the weekend after the 4th of July. Why? Well, because…Eagle’s Point looks over the Golden Gate Bridge – which is why we wanted to get married there in the first place.

So we chose Alamo Square. Everybody knows Alamo Square. It is the park that is in the opening credits of “Full House”. It has the Painted Ladies Victorian houses and the San Francisco skyline in the backdrop. It’s the sort of wedding venue your mother would love. It is “So San Francisco.”

But I didn’t want to marry in Alamo Square. I imagined the fog and the cold. I imagined freezing in my wedding dress. I imagined miserable wedding guests. I imagined the water that couldn’t be seen from there. And I imagined the first time I went to Alamo Square so many years ago. It was with the Bulgarian and my two dogs. And I didn’t want to get married anyplace that reminded me of anyone but my husband whom I love so much.

And so the tensions rose as I couldn’t plan the wedding I dreaded so much to have. But there were no solutions. We checked the churches. They all required membership, large fees, and 6 months of premarital counseling. We checked the hotel ballrooms but they were too plain and typical. Where, oh where we wondered, could we marry that would be scenic and fabulous and ours and wouldn’t drive us to bankruptcy?