August 15, 1998

20 years ago my husband Bran and I were united in the bonds of holy matrimony.

This was our second wedding.

Our first had been in San Francisco City Hall, on July 2. At the first one, our attendant was one of the lawyers in the publishing firm at which I was an editor. She brought red roses. I brought a license.

We got married on July 2 because I was a United Methodist pastor, starting a new call and moving into the parsonage (the house for the pastor, owned by the church) on July 4. My District Superintendent (that was my United Methodist boss) would not allow my husband-minus-six-weeks to move into the parsonage with me, and I wasn't going to pay first, last, and two months' rent for an apartment for him. So, two days before we loaded up the back of Bran's pickup truck, the San Francisco County Clerk pronounced us legally married. The irony was not lost on Bran and me. We were officially forbidden from living together because our relationship hadn’t been consecrated in a church…which was solved by a legal, and very unchurchy, execution of a marriage contract.

As I told my supervisor: we had rendered unto Caesar and were moving in.

That District Superintendent turned out to not like me very much.

So on August 15, Bran and I got really married, in front of God and two pastors and 60 people or so.

Most of the arrangements--flowers, altar, photography, cakes, handmade wood communion set--were done by friends or acquaintances. We had two cakes. One was white--rose, white chocolate, and raspberry--at the church. The other was chocolate, with shards of chocolate sticking out all over. They were made by the soccer-playing baker who had lived in my apartment building a few years earlier.She later became The Elizabeth Falkner, but then she was just "hot baker Elizabeth."  Hot did not refer to her rising popularity.

Big days become a collection of mental snapshots. Here is my favorite: I peeked out of the church library, where I was sequestered and bored (and a little panicked), and saw my fiance doing one of the tasks I had anticipated a friend doing: adding rose water to each of the champagne flutes. I'd purchased medicine droppers to make it go quickly, but Bran hadn't seen those, and was carefully measuring out and dripping those liquid flowers into each of eighty narrow glasses with a tablespoon.

Our two decades together haven't been easy. No one's are. But two things have made them possible: God, and Bran's deep desire to please me. When things get hard, I remember that tablespoon, and the drip drip of rose water into narrow glasses, just to make me happy.