My forever sweetheart and I were married in Boston five years ago. We joined hands in a ceremony with our children on a full moon Thursday at the Arnold Arboretum — a gem of stunning greenery in what’s known as Boston’s Emerald Necklace, a 4.5 km2 stretch of parks and waterways that includes the city’s Public Garden, Boston Common and Jamaica Pond.
Our friend, Angela, custom made our wedding dresses for us. I arranged $100 worth of white be-ribboned faux hydrangeas, creamy blooms and violet blossoms into bouquets and a boutineer for our six month old son.
A pair of purple and turquoise Converse high tops completed our look — what else to wear when you’re married in a verdant forest in the city that heralded the old Victorian (and yet thoroughly modern) notion of the Boston Marriage?
Our choice of wedding shoes resulted in a number of inspired works of art. Our beloved on-site wedding photographer, Mitch, captured us wearing them on a park bench in Boston Common. The talented illustrator and our dear friend Karen Watson recreated the photo above in watercolour. Another talented artist and friend, Graeme Partridge-David, did the same for us as a wedding gift.
On our five year anniversary, my well-worn and well-loved high tops are bleach-splattered from a leak in the hall closet emergency kit three years ago. The rubber outer lining is cracked on one side; my right shoe lets in water on rainy day walks. The piano-key laces I laced them with are no longer a crisp white.
I’m sad to say, it’s time to retire them for a new pair. But not without memorializing them in one last photo. And this blog post.
I remember wearing my purple high tops on our honeymoon in Cape Cod. One afternoon we got caught in a spectacular rainstorm as we explored the town of Orleans. It was the first week of October and just a few weeks after Hurricane Earl had swept up the New England coastline, reaching 145 mph winds at its peak. The afternoon we drove down the Mid-Cape highway from our rental house in North Truro the sky was heavy and grey.
By the time my wife and I finished off our lattes at our new favourite haunt, Hot Chocolate Sparrow, the rain was pounding against the roof of the cafe. It sounded like Kate Braid had turned her toolbox upside down and a cascade of nuts, bolts, screws and tools were pinging and clattering against a hardwood floor.
We were drenched by the time we dodged puddles and parked cars, carrying our wide eyed three year old and swaddled babe through the lot to our car. The yellow double lines were barely visible along the length of Route 6 back to headquarters as stretches of the roadway began to flood.
Driving below the speed limit for a long stretch time I had to rely on the brake lights of the car in front of me to guide us home; even the shapes of cars were blurry as rain slid down the windshield in sheets, the glass only momentarily clear in rainbow arcs. Heart racing, I pulled into the garage and we clambered into the warmth of our cozy living room.
That night lightning lit up our bedroom. The wind howled and shook the windows, tossing lawn chairs across the back deck. We couldn’t sleep under the bubbled skylight. By midnight, we’d moved the kids downstairs with us into the twin beds of second floor guestroom for fear a swaying tree would fall on the roof or the windows would shatter in the bluster.
It may seem that I’m sidling up to some kind of metaphor for marriage. Of course the odd storm hits. External pressures — not unlike unforeseen and threatening forces of nature — can batter and blind you as individuals or as a couple, testing the strength of your commitment.
As I write this post I don’t really know how a storm metaphor belongs in a post about wedding shoes. Surely a quirky-cute pair of shoes won’t hold back a Category 4 hurricane.
Can a heart full of love? The deep desire to nurture and protect the children you wanted with an indescribable ache long before the dream unfolded and finally became real?
Maybe. It has so far.
As I bid farewell to my well-worn shoes, I can take comfort that our son’s navy blue baby-size Converse will continue to hang from the rear view mirror of our car, as it has since the day we returned from our honeymoon.
They’re so small and perfect, though they’ve faded several shades from exposure to the sun. They remind me of my sweet son on that day, his perfect chubby baby faced smile. The handsome tuxedo onesie I changed him into in the bathroom of the Omni Hotel where we dined that night on steak and lobster, drank Moet et Chandon and ate Boston Cream Pie in the very place that invented it.
Here’s to five years of Boston Marriage, Honeys. Because the wedding wasn’t just about two people; it was about all four of us.
And soon, for many more years of adventure together, some new pairs of shoes.