For those of you – and I am so grateful that ‘thank you’ doesn’t seem to cut it – who have been hanging out here, on occasion, for a while, you know I have a thing for flying pigs.
Don’t get me wrong, unwinged pigs are cute and all, but those with wings?
My muse, of course, is my beloved Zombie Pig… .
On any given day, Zombie Pig is without an ear or a wing, but this never worries me because zombies lose body parts all the time.
But back to flying pigs, and the reason the card at the top of this post is so perfect…
Well, nearly perfect.
I’ve made no secret, though I don’t tend to lead with it, that my beginnings in the world were fraught with… instability.
Somewhere in my teens, someone casually tossed off the comment ‘when pigs fly’ as a response to something I thought I wanted to do, or be.
And, for some reason, it lasted. Like one of those bee stings where the stinger keeps pumping venom into the wound.
It just hung around.
An echo of impossibility.
I’ll never get out.
Things will never be better.
But then, somehow – a gift from the universe perhaps – a new thought.
A twist on what was said landed somewhere close enough that I could reach out and touch it.
When pigs fly.
The impossible made possible.
I could do that.
What did I need?
And a little respiration.. you have to keep breathing when things get tough, and things look dim.
And from that day of realization, probably around the age of 16 or 17, flying pigs became my muses.
For me, they are the possible incarnations of the impossible.
Magic granted to the flawed and dirty and muddy and scarred, and not just the beautiful and majestic.
I met John a year or so after my flying pig realization, when I was still living with and surrounded by people who didn’t believe in big possibilities, or big change…
or big love.
He was The Boy who found me interesting enough to woo my mother – who was a secretary in the office of the community college where we’d met – with Diet Cokes from the vending machine.
He was The Boy who pulled his desk up next to mine, in Professor Katims’ Freshman English Lit class, to poke fun at Studs Terkel’s name… even though his own last name was Dingle (and who would ever take that last name in a marriage (me, in trade for two kittens, it turned out)).
He was The Boy who thought I was beautiful, and smart…
And he said so.
Like, out loud.
And that scared me as much as it awe’d me. And it took him years, and a lot of patience, to get me to believe it.
And even then, I think I only sort of believed it.
Though I did believe in him.
And so, six years or so after we met, we married, on October 13, 1990. We got hitched in a small meeting house in Hampstead, New Hampshire. A place we found, by magic and happenstance, after waking up in a panic one night, both saying we didn’t want the big wedding we thought the other one wanted.
We took a ride the very next day and, over the course of two hours and two Italian subs, came across the gorgeous old building in a town we’d never been in. A helpful woman at the town hall made a call to a member of the Historical Society, who apologetically told us that – since we did not live in town – she couldn’t allow us to use the building for free.
She’d have to ask for a donation.
Of thirty-five dollars.
She put us in touch with a photographer in town, who agreed to take the pictures.
And everything could happen on our chosen date.
All told, the wedding cost us $728, including everything… even my dress.
Balloons instead of flowers, as requested by two special nieces, and a champagne toast in a New England meeting house built in 1745, and sporting a 1,212.5 lb. bell cast by the son of Paul Revere.
Food catered by two amazingly talented (and very tired!) friends, and a surprise splurge (by John) of a beautiful old carriage, pulled by a giant draught horse, to bring us from the meeting house to the reception, held at the home of my best friend. A whopping 65 guests – the best of friends and family only.
Yesterday morning, 25 years after that day, we nearly suffocated from laughter when John presented me with a long-sleeved black t-shirt emblazoned with “I still do! October 13, 1990” – and then he revealed is own and announced, “We can be match-y all day long!”
When we caught our breath, he said we were going to brunch.
I rolled my eyes.
We’d agreed to do something, maybe, when we were beyond soccer season and obligations, but we were not doing anything yesterday.
But then we were driving in the car, on a cool fall day that threatened rain. A day so similar to our wedding day a quarter-century ago.
And he said he had a recommendation for a place that we hadn’t been to for breakfast or lunch before.
And we drove and laughed and I accused him of bringing me to a place with lots of people – a grand gesture – and he assured me that he was not and I breathed a sigh of relief.
It was only as we got close that I knew where we were going.
The Old Meeting House.
He pulled bags from the trunk of the car, and held out a key he’d picked up the day before, when he was supposedly having a business meeting in Boston.
And he walked up to the ancient doors and unlocked them…
Balloons and all.
And he told me to put some music on, and handed me a portable speaker, and I went to find a plug while he set up.
And I went into the side room to find a plug, and returned to…
Olives and capers and tomatoes in old Tupperware. Champagne on ice in one of my clay planting pots.
A celebration of a life and a commitment set in motion 25 years ago.
And, as we toasted with Poland Springs water (from Maine, of course (we saved the champagne for later))… we said what we thought.
The author John Steinbeck, I found out just a few years ago when I started writing, also had a thing for flying pigs. He had a stamp of a flying pig, which he called ‘Pigasus’, and would use it next to his signature. He would often accompany the stamped image with the latin, “Ad Astra Per Alia Porci”
To the stars on the wings of a pig.
And I thought of that, yesterday… as John and I sat alone for a couple of hours, talking and laughing in the place we were married.
Two ordinary people, whose love may or may not have been granted by, but certainly dances among, the stars.
Thanks for readin’.
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