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Our wedding day begins, like all of our days together, with my seabound commute;  a 6 a.m.  ferry ride, shared with groggy touristas, Jamaican shopgirls and Mexican yardkeepers off for a day’s mall shop. Outside, on the weather deck, I snap off an instant’s memory, as the old diesel ferry Eagle points it’s chubby bow towards America, through the silent unfurling of a foggy, violet dawn.

wedding rings on flying cow“With this ring I do wed…” Flying cow and silver bands. We vetoed gold as too….too…gold.  I’m size 12; you, like every other part of your body, a taut and trim 8. Jessica, the fledgling island jeweler who made our rings, kept beaming when I described our courtship as “Three years of holding hands in a noisy visit room, and about a million dollars worth of fifteen minute prison calls.” She got it; who wouldn’t? It’s a great love story for the ages. The inscription inside each, which she conned a more advanced shop friend to do: PLP54. An ancient Ross tradition of eternally loving immeasurability, a bedtime promise to a trusting child; one I am proud to wear, in the spirit of your devoted optimism, forever.

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In our rented loveshack, a third floor room at the Amesbury Marriott, a $100  extravagance with a bathtub and a view of the Burger King, we plan our escape, dream of better days.

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You married a Mer-man. If I am too far from the sea, I wilt, like Derryl Hannah in Splash. An hour before we tied the knot, we take a wade in the water. Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts, a rundown honkytonk strip of pizza joints,  pole dance clubs and Mafia motels. You wear my brand-new wetsuit (which I promptly lost weeks later from the car roof); the slick neoprene skin drapes your lithe body like a starving seal, and we pose for a friendly  stranger’s nervous shutter finger.

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At the Haverhill courthouse, waiting for the city clerk to fetch our vows, I catch your face looking down. Reverie. Excitement. Trepidation. In your arms a store-bought nosegay of meadow flowers, morning coffee on your tongue, the ocean salt still wicking from your skin. Outside, a light mist begins to fall. In five minutes we will be officially Us.

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Down Route 2, the winding westward road to your sister’s Northhampton house, a friendly bed to spend our wedding night, we took a memory detour. Fitchburg; a Yankee bedroom burg fallen into schizophrenic disrepair. The big white house where you were raised; the doctor’s daughter, baby of the tribe, watching over your elegant, but increasingly boozed-bewitched mother. An enchantingly timeworn Narnia of secret hidyholes and squeaky stair treads. I watched your eyes as you circled the front yard tree, gauging branch height, casting loving shadows  over ancient arboreal memories.

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We both are blessed with hummingbird bladders, like Barbie-sized teacups that need constant siphoning. “I have to pee,” one of us will announce, and the search is on for a roadside Seven-Eleven, or a tree, or behind the intaglio thicket of outgrown bamboo clotting your family’s ancestral dooryard.

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Another detour. “Let’s stop,” you said, passing Applewild, your old private day school, where the sons and daughters of small-town aristocracy were fed, along with hot lunch, homeroom crushes, and falling icicles, a cheery sense of entitled fraternity. Here, the  grand staircase leading up. A beaming tour guide is standing, just beyond lens sight, thinking us rich alumni, dreaming endowments, despite my salt and pepper ponytail, your prison jeans, the bemused glint of poverty’s pilgrimage.

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Applewild, class of 1965. I fell behind and peered into this photograph; squinting past the years, expecting your serious, angel’s face to catch my gaze, a happy girl trusting in the moment, in the certainty of calender days, holding secrets, like wild ponies sniffing fire, not released until much, much later.

Our first, and last, (a clerical fuck-up)  legally sanctioned night together. Exhausted from the day, driving through a humid downpour, searching the Berkshire hills for your storage lock-up, so you can reclaim the material totems, and work clothes, from an earlier life. The first twelve hours of marriage. It feels like it’s always been there. We drive together, get lost together, weep and soothe together, shop and turn the key together. You cook a late-night wedding feast, like some culinary jazz bopper, while I fiddle with the heat to chase the chill from the floorboards. The house, faithful to it’s vacationing masters, is a recalcitrant basement beast, and holds onto it’s thermostatic secrets. So we lock ourselves in the bedroom with an electric space heater. As time wobbles exquisitely towards morning. We laze, laugh, and cling like rock lichens, forget, for one night at least, about the storm still raging. Parole, prison, the terrorist reign of the time bandits.  “Soon, my darling…” I whisper into my sleeping beauty’s untroubled face. “Soon.”

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The theater of forgotten wardrobe. The next morning, you disgorge six garganto garbage bags of moldy clothing, rescued from storage, onto your sister’s floor, saying “Wow! I can’t believe I had so much stuff!” I am quietly happy, sipping in our comfortable domesticity. Later, we will search for a Goodwill drop-off bin, try and imagine the homeless fashion show parading the dingy streets of Northhampton in velvet heels, spaghetti straps, and clingy Licra.

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Bedside candles, melting wax. Our first morning as newlyweds. Our love will always live precariously close to the flame. The secret to cleaning wax from dinnerware, I discover, is cold, cold water.

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