I'm a born cynic.
I've always thought of marriage as one of those conventional traditions marketed for girls in fluffy dresses and their overbearing mothers. I've always said it's the commitment that matters, the pledge to love another for a lifetime through thick and thin. I've always told my dad that I'd take him up on his offer to give me and the hubby-to-be a check if we'd agree to exchange vows in some quick-and-dirty Vegas ceremony.
Well, I'm getting married on Friday.
In a chapel. With a fluffy white dress and a big party the next day. The only thing missing is the overbearing mother.
Last night -- technically very early this morning -- I finally got it. Things clicked, and I understood what all the fuss is about. Beyond the legal benefits and rights. Beyond the politics. Beyond the cynicism.
I've heard people comment off-handedly that if gays and lesbians want to get married, let 'em, cuz they deserve to be just as miserable as the straight folk. Look, we all know that long-term relationships of every flavor come with their baggage. Hang around anyone for decades, and you're bound to find a few things to pick apart.
But I think I understand the day itself and the significance therein, though I'm not sure I can put it into words.
In the end, yes, it's just a day. A big celebration of commitment. For better or worse, we have the rest of our natural lives together, and it's not all going to be better.
The wedding itself isn't going to make the rough spots any smoother. Rare is the couple who casts aside a heated argument to break out the photo album and renew their vows. We'll have some great memories, but what matters most are the days yet to come.
Still, there's something all at once daunting, final and exciting about the prospect of standing up in front of friends and family -- and God, if that's your thing -- and professing your undying love for another human being.
As I stowed my spiky white heels in the back of the Jeep this morning, I couldn't help wondering what everyone's so scared of when it comes to gay marriage. If two consenting adults want to look each other in the eye and swear fidelity forever, who am I to judge that?
It's not an easy decision to make, nor should people make it until they're 100 percent sure it's the right decision for them.
But I'll admit it: I actually teared up a little last night when I was reading over the vows we're going to exchange. You don't think anything of it when it's other people making those promises, but when you're the one saying "I do," it's a whole other story.
And it's a story all adults should be able to experience and tell. We should encourage more marriage, not less. And hey, if the prospect of a sparkly tiara and lovey-dovey poetry can make this little cynic cry, there's hope for all of us.