I adore that Edna St. Vincent Millay poem, “Love is Not All.” The one where she says that love can’t feed us, or heal disease, or protect us from the elements, or save us from disaster. And yet. If she were driven to distraction by pain and want, she says, maybe she might sell her love for food or peace. Maybe, but probably not. Love isn’t everything, you see. It’s only the most important thing.
I’m waxing sentimental and uncharacteristically romantic today, my friends. That’s because it’s Hubby’s and my thirtieth wedding anniversary. I know! Thirty years. We’re both finding that hard to believe.
When Hubby and I were married we’d been living together for three years. And neither of us was in the first blush of youth. Or so we thought then. I was thirty-three and he was forty-five. In fact, I remember telling my class at the Adult High School, where I taught at the time, that we were getting married that summer. Someone asked me my age, and when I said thirty-three, a woman in my class, much older than I was, said in an oddly, condescending tone, “You’ve left it late haven’t you?” Seems funny now. I mean, I wasn’t eighteen, but I had a few good years left in me. Ha.
We had a small wedding, at home. I’d never wanted the white wedding extravaganza. Even as a teenager, I thought if I ever married I’d want it to be at home on the farm. As it happened it was on our deck, in our front garden, overlooking the river in Manotick, on a perfect summer’s day. My sister Connie and I cleaned our house from top to bottom the day before, in preparation. Hubby bought white potted plants to put around the deck. The venerable Manotick Tea Room catered. My mum made our wedding cake. And my friend’s boyfriend played his guitar and sang.
I ordered daisies for my flowers, and the Mill Street Florist here in Manotick tied the bouquets for free. I bought my vanilla suit at Ad Lib, my favourite boutique. And my hairdresser Chinta did my hair as a wedding gift; I didn’t want a veil so she pinned a spray of baby’s breath up one side of my head. I loved it. Simple, but still a bit bride-y.
Everyone, it seemed, went out of their way to be kind. To make our day a success.
When everyone had gone home that evening, I changed into my shorts, and Hubby and I, my sister Connie, and her husband Pat finished the last of the wine out on our deck. Connie and Pat and their three kids had been staying with us, the kids sleeping in our tent in the backyard. But on our wedding night, Hubby and I swapped our room for the tent, and the kids moved indoors. As it happens, there was more privacy in the tent. Our house is pretty small.
One of my fondest memories is of my sister bringing our morning tea on a tray to the backyard the next day. And seeing as you can’t knock on a tent door, she announced her approach with a loud, “Knock, knock. Morning tea for the happy couple.” Or something similar. Not exactly breakfast in bed, at the Ritz. But pretty darned close. And lovelier, I think.
When our guests had headed home to New Brunswick, Hubby and I packed up and lit out on our honeymoon. We spent five days canoeing and camping in Algonquin Park. I know. Not everyone’s idea of a romantic trip. But you can’t get much more alone under the stars than in a wilderness park. Just saying.
Our wedding was exactly what we wanted. Low key. Intimate. Our special day shared only with those closest to us. But, you know, it wasn’t perfect. Are weddings ever perfect?
And like our wedding day, our marriage hasn’t been all smooth paddling. There’s been a bit of white water. Hubby and I are quite different people, as I’m sure you’ve guessed if you’ve read my blog before. We have very different temperaments. Sometimes his get up and get a thousand things done before breakfast drives me nutty. Sometimes my tendency to be dreamy, a bit slower (okay, a lot slower) off the mark drives him to distraction. He’s a saver, and I’m a spender. He’s the classic, quiet, responsible eldest child. And, well, I’m the cliché youngest child, waving my arms and dancing for attention. On the surface, we really shouldn’t work as a couple. But we do.
That Edna St. Vincent Millay poem has long been my very, very favourite. And when Hubby and I planned our wedding ceremony, I wanted it included. I thought it would make a beautiful reading. But Hubby said that maybe it was a bit dark in tone. Maybe our mums would miss the important last line. Maybe they’d only hear all the other lines about what love isn’t. And after all, if we wanted them at our wedding ceremony we should take into consideration what they’d like. So I relented. And I’m glad I did. In the event, I was so emotional already, I’d probably have made an ass of myself if the minister had read the poem. Like Lucy, I’d have opened my mouth wide, and sobbed. Loudly. Messily. Mascara everywhere. Phew. I sure dodged a bullet with that one, folks.
But I still love the poem. It expresses exactly what I think about love. And marriage. And our marriage. We’re not everything to each other. Only everything that’s important.
So, after a thirty year delay… here’s a beautiful reading of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Love Is Not All.”