In Arizona, you can do a lot of things.

Like drive 80 on the highway while talking on a cell phone held in your hand.  Like walking around with a loaded pistol.  Like getting a marriage license in the morning and being married that same afternoon.

When Mark and I first talked about visiting Arizona over the holidays, we weren’t thinking about eloping.  But one night while googling places to stay in Bisbee, a defunct mining town turned artists’ haven set in a hillside about 20 miles north of the Mexican border, I saw a motel with an absolutely stunning mural on one of its walls.  The mural was inspired by a Spanish poem about gypsy bandits, drunken civil guards, mortal wounds, dying regrets and suicide.  What a perfect place to get married, I thought.  And so we did.

Our officiant started the ceremony by reading a passage from the author Edward Abbey about the desert and love.

It seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of existence are emphasized here in the desert, by the comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna; life not crowded upon life as in other places, but scattered abroad in spareness and simplicity, with a generous gift of space for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass, so that the living organism stands out bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock. The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life forms. Love flowers best in openness and freedom.

Our witness, Linda, who had been a stranger until that day, cried like she had known us all her life as we said our vows.  Her partner, Cindy, also a stranger but now a friend, held my Mexican paper flowers when the ring exchange began just like a good maid-of-honor.

From this day forward I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you in times of joy, and comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle.  I will share in your dreams and support you as you strive to achieve your goals.  I promise to love and remain faithful to you for better or worse, in times of sickness and health.  I promise to cherish you and to always hold you in highest regard.  You are my best friend and I will love and respect you always.

Afterward, we celebrated with champagne and pie.  Linda told us Bisbee ghost stories and about how the woman, Rose Johnson, who had painted the mural, died from drinking poisoned beer in Bali.  Reverend Kent told us about how he had gone to Humboldt State but hadn’t finished even one credit.  He did help restore the Madaket, though.  Cindy chain-smoked, and we all talked about marijuana, heterosexual privilege and art.  One hour after the ceremony had begun, the whole event was over.

Later, curled up in Mark’s arms in our tiny little room, I started to reminisce emotionally about our relationship- where we’d started, how far we’d come, how our love had seen us through, and various other Hallmark chest-clutching cliches.  In the midst of this magical moment, my eyes brimming with tears, I looked up at Mark.  He smiled and lowered his gaze to my chest.

“You know, I think getting married made your boobs bigger.”

And that’s why I married him.


19 responses to “In Arizona, you can do a lot of things.

  1. Oh so sweet! May your love become stronger and stronger as the years fly by and life continues to bless you with joy and passion. Perhaps the desert sun had something to do with the extra buoyancy!

  2. Federico García Lorca – Sleepwalking Ballad

    Green how I love you green.

    Green wind, green boughs.

    The ship upon the sea

    and the horse upon the mountain.

    With shadow on her waist

    she dreams upon her balcony;

    green flesh, hair green,

    with eyes of cold silver.

    Beneath the gypsy moon

    everything looks upward,

    but she cannot look down.

    Green how I love you green.

    Great frosted stars

    appear with a shadow-born fish

    that opens the path of dawn.

    The fig tree rubs the wind

    with its sandpaper branches

    and the mountain, a swift thieving cat,

    bristles its sour aloes.

    But who shall come? And from where…?

    She lingers on her balcony,

    green flesh, hair green,

    dreaming of the bitter sea.

    -Friend, I would like to exchange

    my horse for your home,

    my saddle for your mirror,

    my knife for your blanket.

    Friend, I come bleeding

    from the mountain passes of Cabra.

    -If I were able, lad,

    this deal would be done.

    But I am no longer myself,

    and my house is no longer my own.

    -Friend, I want to die

    decently in my own bed.

    A steel-framed bed, if possible,

    with sheets of fine holland.

    Do you not see the wound that runs

    from by breast to my throat?

    -Your white shirt wears

    three hundred dark roses.

    Your oozing blood leaves its scent

    upon your sash.

    But I am no longer myself,

    and my house is no longer my own.

    -At least let me go up

    to the high balconies;

    let me go! let me go

    to the high balconies,

    the balconies of the moon

    where the water resounds.

    Now the two friends ascend

    toward the high balconies.

    Leaving a trail of blood.

    Leaving a trail of tears.

    Small tin lamps

    trembled on the rooftops.

    A thousand crystal tambourines

    stabbed up at the dawn.

    Green how I love you green,

    green wind, green boughs.

    The two friends went up.

    A persistent wind left a strange taste

    of bile in their mouths, a taste

    of mint and sweet-basil.

    Friend! Where is she, tell me?

    Where’s your bitter girl?

    How many times she waited for you!

    How she waited for you,

    cool face, black hair,

    here on this green balcony!

    Over the face of the cistern

    the gypsy girl rocked.

    Green flesh, hair green,

    with eyes of cold silver.

    A lunar icicle

    suspends her above the water.

    The night became intimate,

    like a small city square.

    Drunken civil guards

    pounded at the door.

    Green how I love you green.

    Green wind, green boughs.

    The ship upon the sea

    and the horse upon the mountain.

  3. I’m so happy for you I find my self oddly lacking for words, so here are some old words in honor of your new commitment –

    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!

  4. All the love and laughter you bring into our world, Kristabel – I’m so glad you have someone who does the same for you. Reading this reminded me of all the good things. Thank you and congratulations!

  5. Perfect. Absolutely wonderfully perfect. Very happy for you both. This is what a wedding should be and how a marriage should start. Many years of happiness being wished here.

  6. Congratulations! That looks like a beautiful place, and Bisbee is a great town. your boobs probably looked bigger because your heart is swelling up with love.

  7. Pingback: Weekly Roundup For January 20, 2012 | Humboldt Sentinel·

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