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The Paper Anniversary

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the trip Jon and I took to Yosemite National Park and eloped on a cliff overlooking Half Dome. It was a trip we had planned for a little over a month, and something we kept secret from everyone we knew except his mother, my mother and my father. There was no way I could get married without telling my parents as I have put them through sufficient heartache already, what with leaving the Mormon church and forsaking Rush Limbaugh.

We arrived at the decision to elope through months of trying to justify what would have been lavish wedding expenses. We knew we were going to have to foot the bill for probably 99% of the wedding, and I didn’t want to have a ceremony that people attended out of courtesy or obligation. I figured, if I’m going to have a party, it’s going to be one rocking party complete with drunk uncles passing out in the middle of the dance floor and an all-you-can-eat burrito buffet. The problem was neither Jon nor I have uncles who drink, and the cost of feeding even our immediate families would have left us in credit card debt for the next 30 years. Plus, I needed medical attention rather urgently, the details of which I will kindly spare you, and Jon’s employer didn’t recognize domestic partners when it came to insurance.

So we decided to elope, and I’m here to tell you that it was one of the best decisions we have ever made. And people, we’re full of great decisions. I cannot recommend eloping enough, as you will save enough money for a down payment on a house and still have enough left over to pay for your first two children’s bachelors degrees. We saved extra money by taking our own pictures and walking into a local florist the morning of the ceremony and asking for leftover flowers for a bouquet. And even though none of my closest friends or family were there to celebrate with me, I had my best friend at my side the entire time and it was the most exquisite, most memorable day of my life.

When we called our parents to let them know what we were doing, I was a little nervous that my mother would freak out and try to talk me out of it. I defintely don’t give that woman enough credit, because I have thrown some doozies her way and she gracefully takes the blow every time. Last week I called her to chat and mentioned that for our first anniversary, the paper anniversary, Jon was going to get me rolling papers, and we were going to score some weed and smoke up a big doobie in celebration. I actually used the word “doobie.” She found this amusing to no end and laughed for a good five minutes because she knows that I would never do anything so harmful to my unborn child. She would have laughed even harder had she known about the time Jon and I smoked weed for the first and last time together, a little over a year ago, a horrible experience wherein Jon sat relaxed and groovy on one end of the couch and I sat uncomfortably transfixed at the other end, completely convinced that Jon was going to figure out that I couldn’t hold my shit together while high on pot and leave me for someone who could hold their shit together while high on pot. I kept repeating in my head, “Hold your shit together, hold your shit together,” and I couldn’t say anything but, “Huh?” when Jon asked how I was doing. I just knew that he knew that I was not holding my shit together and that our wonderful and loving relationship was coming to an abrupt end. After 17 or 18 “Huh?” responses I finally mustered what I thought was the most coherent sentence in the world, something that would prove to him that I was so keeping my shit together, and I said, “I want our kids to know and to understand the magic that is Bob Marley.” A year later and we’re still together, people. It totally worked!

My father, on the other hand, isn’t so receptive when it comes to my joking about our obvious differences. I mentioned to him a couple months ago that while it’s been hard giving up the copious amount of caffeine that I’m used to drinking every day, the most challenging thing about this pregnancy has been trying to give up heroin. I assured him that I wasn’t using every day, just every other day, and that we would love our heroin baby as much as we would love a non-heroin baby. I then assured him that we would try to get our child into the best Wiccan camps in the country, even if it meant making financial sacrifices elsewhere in our lives, like giving up pay-per-view porn and slashing our weekly donations to the ACLU. He tried to muster a laugh, and the most he could say back was, “You go ahead and do that,” not knowing whether or not I was serious. The thing is, I’m totally serious about Wiccan Camp.

Both of my parents, however, were surprisingly thrilled when they heard that Jon and I had decided to elope. I think it represented to them the most responsible decision I had made as an adult, that I would end my reign of terror as a swinging single and become a legitimate, tax-paying, non-living-in-sin citizen of planet earth. They most likely poured glasses of sparkling apple cider and toasted the long overdue arrival of their youngest child. No longer would I be banished to Outer Darkness in the hereafter, and I might have just secured my place in the Telestial Kingdom, the rung of heaven reserved for theives, murderers, rapists, and people who joke about sending their kids to Wiccan Camp.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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