I Went To Look For Joy

I’ve been to a lot of weddings.

I’ve sung in the weddings of strangers, stood up in the weddings of friends, and sometimes I even get to sing in the weddings of friends. Weddings are supposed to be about love and commitment and celebration, but too often they become about perfect flowers, and elaborate place settings and seemingly unavoidable drama between friends and family. Too often they become about showing off. Too often those of us not partnered spend weddings feeling bitter and cynical. Too often you end up sitting at a table and eating not-very-good food with a bunch of people you don’t know and trying to make small talk with for hours on end.

This is not about one of those weddings.

newlyweds

A bit of backstory.

Once upon a time, two, awkward, shy high school freshman sat next to each other and shared a folder in choir. Being shy, and awkward, they didn’t speak. For a year. The next fall came, and they were folder partners again, but one day something sparked a conversation. And they never stopped talking. For the rest of high school these two girls were kind of a pain in the ass whenever they had a class together. They passed notes. They referenced inside jokes. They didn’t pay attention. And every time the choir teacher tried to split them up, they just moved back. There was no fighting it. Most teachers gave up.

In case you didn’t work it out, one of those girls was me. Yesterday I sang (and danced and ate and laughed) as the other girl in the story, Lauren, married Silara, who has become as equally as important in my life.

How to describe what the last three days have been? It was like being inside joy. As if Joy was something tangible and you could wrap yourself up with it like a blanket.

For just a little while, the world was full of nothing but goodness. Those of us lucky enough to know the happy couple were welcomed and loved as we are. The message started with the invitations stating: come as you are, wear what you want, bring who you love. You are family and we love you.

I have a hard time with the concept of family. I imagine many queer folk do. I love the people that I share DNA with. I do. And I know that they love me. But while it doesn’t seem like love in a biological family should be complicated, often times it is. And as I look to the future and my hopes and dreams for the years ahead, I’ve always had very complicated feelings about a future family. I’m a bit of a gypsy– I’ve moved often and far distances throughout my adult life. I have a hard time putting down roots, to committing to the long term, to imagining a future that is not constantly changing its entire cast of characters. I have felt like an outsider in most situations for most of my life.

But this weekend felt like– Family.

I was welcomed by Lauren (and now Silara’s) parents, sister and brother in law. I was embraced by their friends. Most of the attendees were gay and we spoke the short hand of shared experience. We bonded over our favorite lesbian coming of age novel and geeked out over Harry Potter. When we talked about how great it was that J had agreed to be the sperm donor for Lauren and Silara’s future children, there was no uncomfortable tension– only joy. Words like “transition” didn’t have to be explained. No one questioned what anyone was wearing or who they held hands with. I can not remember a time when I was more present and less self-conscious. I didn’t feel bad about my body, or being single. I didn’t question the choices that brought me to this place in life. It felt like home. It felt like family.

Lauren and Silara have that magical affect on people. You never feel like the third wheel. You never feel left out or that you are intruding. Their affection doesn’t make you bitter or jealous, it fills you with joy just to see them so happy. Their generosity doesn’t make you feel indebted or uncomfortable, it makes you feel blessed to be the recipient of such warmth.

The grounds were beyond gorgeous. The beauty of the trees and the view of the river added to the feeling that we had all been whisked away to a magical land, far from the real world. I managed to sing Lauren down the aisle without crying… too much. I was lucky enough to make music with a talented woman with a beautiful spirit. It was an honor to add to the soundtrack of their special day.

Obviously, their wedding day was not about me, it was about them. And it was about them, but it was also about us, all of us. It was about a family of people who love them holding them up and wishing good things for the future. For their future. For our future. For our futures. Sometimes it can feel like there is hate and anger all around us. Sometimes it feels like I’m always fighting.

But for one shining moment–

I went to look for Joy,

Slim, dancing Joy,

Gay, laughing Joy,

Bright-eyed Joy-

And I found her…

…Such company, such company,

As keeps this young nymph, Joy!

~Langston Hughes~

Here's to being friends for another 15 years
Here’s to being friends for another 15 years
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