Happy Eighth Anniversary
Eight years ago, I got married three times. Er, I've been married three times. No, that's not right, we've had three weddings. Where to start?
Eight years and a few months ago a friend of mine was graduating from school and somehow my house became the central gathering place. One of her friends, a mutual friend, was moving to the East Coast after finishing her MBA. I was working for a company that still gave sabbaticals, and I'd been there 5 years, so I was going to take the month of July off. I'm not sure why, but it seemed like a good idea at time, but I offered to go along with her on a trip across the country.
We knew each other, but only peripherally, in that FoaF (Friend of a Friend) way. We each knew the other was harmless.
She agreed, and we set off, as friends, on a Planes, Trains and Automobiles trip across the country. We went to Arizona, Oklahoma, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York. We looked at the Grand Canyon and said "that's a hole." We flew in a friend's tiny plane over Wrigley Field. We rode train's in Penn Station.
Somewhere in Detroit we fell in love. Not sure how, but it happened, and it was awesome. By the way, neither of us would recommend dating for 3 months then getting married. Still, success is a good metric, as we like to say.
Three months later we got married in a park in Wilmington, Delaware, then walked across the street and had chicken fingers at Friendly's. When we got to the park the judge had asked where our witnesses were? Oops. Didn't have any. I ran after two joggers and somehow got them to sign their names two our Marriage Certificate and bear witness in their jogging sweats. Their names are still on the certificate that hangs in our living room.
We debated which coast to live on, and ultimately it came down to who liked their job more. She moved back to the West Coast and we started preparing for Wedding #2. There was a tiny footnote at the bottom of the wedding program that said something like "Scott and Mo were married in a civil ceremony earlier..." It was like 4 point font.
Then we started preparing for Wedding #3, back home in Zimbabwe. First, I had to start negotiations with her parents for lobola. Sometimes this is called a bride price, but modern folks usually call it a bride gift. Wikipedia has a decent description:
Lobolo or Lobola (Mahadi in Sesotho; sometimes translated as bride price) is a traditional southern African dowry custom whereby the man pays the family of his fiancée for her hand in marriage. The custom is aimed at bringing the two families together, fostering mutual respect, and indicating that the man is capable of supporting his wife financially and emotionally.
Traditionally the lobola payment was in cattle as cattle were the primary source of wealth in African society. However, most modern urban couples have switched to using cash. The process of lobola negotiations can be long and complex, and involves many members from both the bride's and the groom's extended families.
I ended up smuggling $20s into the country strapped to my legs under my clothes and her dad bought a number of cattle and a small shop. I could write a book, not a blog post, about the experience. Suffice it to say, there was a goat in a bathtub at some point, then we ate his liver. Long story.
Since we were married, we've been to five Africa countries over four trips, driven our first son around France and Spain, had her hair pulled by strangers in Malaysia, taken my parents to Tanzania for a month (their first international trip), had a second son, bought and sold a few houses, and had more fun that you can know in the process. We fight fair and make up. We respect each other.
As she (we?) is/are fond of saying:
"Eight years? Feels like twelve!"
To which I always reply, "What were we THINKING?!"
Madness indeed, my love. Happy Anniversary. I hope you renew me for another eight.