The Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (which is actually located in Kensington) is always a lovely spot, but it was particularly lovely on this day in 2004. One reason was the weather, which was sunny and warm, with breezy blue skies. Another reason was the company, which included family, colleagues, and friends both old and new. The biggest reason was the fact that October 9, 2004 was the first day of my marriage and partnership with my wife Miranda.
It was not a drama-free day – wedding days rarely are, in my experience – but it was both moving and meaningful, and our partnership has continued on and evolved ever since. We’ve had our periods of tension and strife, of course. Neither of us is the world’s first-ever flawless human being, and we’ve had ample opportunity to prove it to each other.
We’ve persevered in the face of our inevitable differences, however, and we’ve also been able to reveal the better angels of our nature to each other. I know that committing to a life of partnership with Miranda has helped me to unearth personal qualities that I wasn’t even aware I possessed before we’d met.
I understand more about her needs with each passing year; equally important, I understand more about my own needs with each passing year. In recent years I’ve found the confidence and courage to pursue things that I’d never dared to pursue before, and a large measure of the credit for that goes to Miranda – her ability to perceive and then pursue her goals has been truly inspiring.
I’ve been through periods of crippling loneliness, as I know many of us have. So it would be easy to say “not lonely” is a low bar to clear, but I don’t actually think it is, because in my mind loneliness isn’t merely the absence of other people. For me, loneliness has always meant the absence of people, or even one person, who makes a profound, sustained effort to perceive me as the person I truly am, understand the complexities of my inner life to the best of their ability, and take the risk of being vulnerable enough to let me do the same in return.
I have that with Miranda, and a lot more. I have intimacy of a kind I’ve always wanted, but always felt out of reach. I have a partner who’s willing to take on the immense difficulties of bringing children into this world and raising them while also being present to share the startling, bottomless joys those children also provide. I have someone with whom I can explore the psychological complexities of life in this world in a way that I’ve never been able to do with anyone else.
We had fun on this date nine years ago. Friends and local acoustic music legends Mario Speedwagon performed; my brother took pictures; friends and family shared their thoughts and feelings with us; and when it was all over we went home, ordered a pizza, took a deep breath, and started life as a married couple. It was a very good day.