Who actually meets their spouse through a website peddled by a grey haired grandfatherly gentlemen who promises true love if you’ll just fill out an endless questionnaire? Me. Matched on Halloween, we’ll label it a treat, and one year later in a grand spectacle that would rival a Cirque de Soleil performance, we walked down the aisle amongst 250 of our closest family and friends. A worship band and a Native American soloist for the ceremony. Folklorico dancers, Mariachis and a DJ for the reception. A good time was had by all.
A honeymoon up the California Coast was in order with a long stop in San Francisco, one of my previous temporary homes where I had left my heart. On the trip back a conversation of how difficult it would be to go back to real life after such a great escape. Then I also may have mentioned that I thought we should offer to adopt my new bride’s great-niece. Pause for effect. She agreed. Pause for panic. A few phone calls ensued as we drove, each confirming what our hearts had somehow already known long before our heads. Were we crazy? At least one of us was certifiable. We were about to embark on a wild ride that neither of us could have foreseen.
One of the best things about a wedding is opening all the gifts. The day after arriving back from the honeymoon we headed to the parental units house where the loot had been buried pending our return. Wrapping paper flew and champagne flowed. At some point amidst the celebration I asked my mother if she was excited about being a grandmother some day. She beamed. I asked how she would feel about it being very, very soon. I don’t want to say that the brief glance she shot back at my wife and I was momentarily accusatory or judgmental, but I’m not going to say it wasn’t. After assuring them that Julie was in fact not pregnant, the details of our possible adventure were shared. My dad shotgunned an entire glass of champagne. Mom look bewildered. By the way, we need a few thousand dollars for a lawyer to get things rolling if you could get out the checkbook. After the smelling salts were found and the initial shock wore off, the unconditional love and support that I had always known and relied upon arrived without hesitation.
I’m a Southern California native. They don’t teach you geography there. I had no knowledge of any location in the US east of Texas, except for New York because I had been there once and it was a cool city. Rest assured I had no idea where in the hell Kentucky was on a map, nor had any reason to go there previously in my life. Yet there I was on a plane three weeks after my marriage, my destination was a place called Wilmore. Sounded fake, and it almost is…according to some. My wife had arrived several days before me and I really didn’t know what was ahead of me over the next two days. It seemed frivolous to try and guess. The next two days are somewhat of a blur, although some moments do remain etched in my mind. One of them is walking in to see the most beautiful little bald eight month old girl I had ever laid eyes on holding on to a coffee table to stand up and giving me a grin ear to ear, proud of her accomplishment with an imp in her eye.
After two days of events that demand their own short story, it was time for me, my wife, and this baby girl to board a plane to Los Angeles. The court documents gave us permission, her birth parents did the same, but what about our own heads? Too late now, the engines roared and we ascended. I remember sitting holding her in my window seat, feeding her a bottle that Julie had just mixed. As she gulped it down I looked over at my exhausted bride and now brand new mother. We locked tired and scared eyes, smiled, and then started to laugh. Maybe it was pure exhaustion. Maybe it was the unspoken understanding that only we could be in this very situation on this very day on this very plane. Probably both. I think I said something to the effect of, “what are we doing?”. As we gathered up the amazingly unnecessary amount of items we had dragged on to the plane, a woman from across the aisle leaned in to comment on what a beautiful baby girl we had. She was right.
For some the beginning of their family story is marked by their first date, their engagement, wedding, or moving into their first home. For us, I think our beginning was walking into the baggage claim area at LAX for the first time as a new family and hugging my teary-eyed sister who could only get out the words, “welcome home”.
Author: Michael Martinez