spake like a child

4/27/08

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On Saturday near sunset, our infinitely beloved Salem and his stunning girlfriend Sturdivant got married in Gulf Stream, Florida in front of their adoring fans. Odd as it may seem, they asked me to officiate the wedding, so I promptly went to the Universal Life Church, got ordained (as the Right Reverend, thank you) and months later, brought the whole family to Florida to be of service to a couple of my favorite people in the world.

I think we pulled it off pretty well, judging from the emotion surrounding the ceremony – and also from Tessa, who said she loved my sermon. She never says something like that unless she means it, so I was quite proud to make the cut. I wish we had more pictures, but both our cameras died, leaving us with only a few right now.

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Salem’s little sister Katie, awesome as always

Sturdivant’s friends are a bevy of wonderfully intense women we would have all fallen for in college, and many of the wedding events felt like kickin’ it old school at Molly’s or Linda’s, back when that meant something. They provided more anecdotal (yet powerful) evidence that modern, single men in their mid-20s to mid-40s are unbelievable buffoons, but that’s for another entry.

Lucy had an incredible time, especially getting to hang with Salem’s six-yar-old daughter Lillie-Anne, although her crush on his son McColl was so pervasive that it made her non-functional at most events. I was proud of her at the rehearsal dinner – she got into the swimming pool with her dress on, which is PURE ROCK.

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I’ve been asked to post the benediction/service I gave Salem and Sturdivant, and I hope it doesn’t seem too self-indulgent, because I can’t tell you how honored I was to be in that position. So here you go, short and sweet, as best as I can remember it…

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… I find myself up here today in a completely bizarre, completely unexpected position. I’m standing next to Salem and Sturdivant, and neither of them are allowed to talk. If you know either of them, you’d realize how rare that is.

When they asked me to be the minister of their wedding, at first I was surprised, then extremely psyched, and then I wondered why nobody else had asked me to do it before. But it raised a question: what gives anyone the right to marry anybody? Certainly a man of the cloth has his faith, a justice of the peace has his title, but what does someone like me bring to the table?

And then I realized. I can do this because I’m in love. And fortunately, the person I’m in love with is also the person I married, which is a nice coincidence. So my benediction for you both is to offer two rules we use for what we all hope is going to be your fantastic marriage.

The first is self-evident: don’t go to bed mad. Stay up until 4am to fix the problem, no matter how tired you are.

The second is what we call the ripcord rule. It simply states that at any time in your relationship, if one of you is sinking, if one of you gets in an untenable position, or if one of you sinks so low in depression that you don’t know how you’re going to continue, you can always pull the ripcord on your parachute.

And when you ask for the ripcord, your partner agrees to shake the world up, no questions asked. To move across the country, to change jobs, to support you in a seismic shift of your circumstances. It’s the emergency valve to our souls.

Here’s the best thing: we have never had to use the ripcord, and the reason we haven’t, is because we both know that it exists.

As an agnostic, I can’t preach “faith and certainty” – my specialty is “doubt and ambivalence”. But the word ambivalence gets a bad rap. Ambivalence doesn’t mean “uh, I could take it or leave it” – it can mean feeling two diametrically opposite passions at the same time.

I urge you to embrace your ambivalence, and celebrate your doubt. To know that in marriage, deep love and unbelievable annoyance walk hand in hand. It’s okay to have fifteen different emotions about the same issue. That’s not called “being inconsistent,” that’s called “being alive.”

Every marriage is like a skyscraper built on a fault line. And in Los Angeles and Tokyo, where there are massive earthquakes, they’re able to build the tallest skyscrapers, and how? By making them infinitely flexible. With each huge quake, they simply sway in time to the undulating earth.

Be flexible with one another, appreciate each other’s fault lines, embrace your doubts, appreciate your ambivalence, and something odd might happen: you’ll probably stay together until you’re 104 years old.

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0 thoughts on “spake like a child

  1. jif

    GET EXCITED!!!! Congratulations Salem and Sturdivant!! You both look radiant. Sturdivant, i love the green sash on your dress (more photos!) and your bridesmaid dresses are smashing! And ian, did you have your hair especially done for the occassion ;-)? I agree with Tessa, beautifully worded, very thoughtful sermon. Wishing you both all of the love and happiness you so richly deserve!! All the best! xxx

    Reply
  2. Anne

    Awesome benediction, Ian. I especially love this line:
    “In marriage, deep love and unbelievable annoyance walk hand in hand.”
    So true! And how helpful to use the word “annoyance” when others might say “loathing” or “fury.”
    It is the rare person who never in life feels at least a fleeting sensation of hating their partner’s guts. We need to remember that such feelings can be a normal part of a long-term relationship and do not necessarily forecast doom for a couple. It’s how you work it out that matters.

    Reply
  3. Annie

    I am so moved reading your benediction, Ian–it is so right on. (*sniff!* dabs eyes) It makes me recall your wedding and the beautiful vows you exchanged. (Idea: one of these anniversaries, how bout posting the vows? I would LOVE to read them again…)
    Salem and Sturdivant: may you both be showered with blessings!

    Reply
  4. Rebecca

    I love these joyful, “life is good” entries. Congrats to Salem and Sturdivant. Y’all have some good Southern names! SLS – your shoes are awesome! And little Lucy looks timeless in her black patent leather and smocked dress. Adorable as always.

    Reply
  5. LFMD

    SLS – are those Stephen Bonanno Palm Beach sandals? NICE.
    Congratulations to the beautiful couple! And you did a great job, Ian. Lovely words of wisdom!
    One question: was the English sheepdog Jeeves invited?

    Reply
  6. Neva

    Wow. Congrats to all of you, even the Rev.
    Love the bridesmaids dresses. Great color on you Katie!
    Your words were awesome Ian. So true. So true.
    LFMD – how’s your Dad?
    Neva

    Reply
  7. LFMD

    Hi Neva. Thanks for asking. . . . he is about the same. Still in ICU. So far he has had regular dialysis, a tracheotomy, respirator machine, infections. Dad is fighting the good fight, trying to get well! I don’t know much about AAAs, but his was 10 cms, and I understand that he is lucky to still be alive.

    Reply
  8. Seth

    Congrats Salem and Sturdivant! And nice sermon, Ionosphere. How very great (not to mention, of course, I’m sure the food was awesome).

    Reply
  9. Salem's Little Sister

    LFMD-I am sporting the lovely Jack Roger’s navajo sandals in pink and although my berry pink dress looks coralish, they did match. Your dad has been in our prayers every night and we’ll keep him there.
    Neva- Thanks! Sturdivant picked the color and fabric and we picked the style we liked. Love that J. Crew!

    Reply
  10. LFMD

    Thanks, SLS. You are a sweetheart.
    And, you look quite stunning in the dress! Very pretty. Wish J. Crew had their bridesmaids line back when I was engaged. . .

    Reply
  11. GFWD

    I did not want to hijack this beautiful entry with politics, but Ian didn’t post a new topic or code word today. First, congrats to Salem and Sturdivant. Second, Salem’s little sister is hot. Third, Lucy is adorable. Fourth, nice wedding speech there, Ian.
    Finally, and most importantly, this story below may have clinched my decision on who I am voting for in this election. The candidate that can run with my Tar Heels is fit to run this country. At least everywhere but Kansas!
    http://www.newsobserver.com/politics/story/1053885.html

    Reply
  12. elaine

    beautiful son, beautiful new daughter, beautiful wedding! Ian, you have a special place in my heart for loving my children. Can I be Lucys nanny? love, lanie

    Reply

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