A Month-ish of Marriage: Chaos and Incandescent Happiness

Look closely at my hands and you’ll still spot the remnants of my wedding day nail polish—a pale, translucent pink that’s slowly chipping away, revealing my regular-life fingernails beneath. I can’t bring myself to take it off.

I highly HIGHLY recommend having a massive slumber party the night before your wedding.

The emotions of the wedding day were more than I could process. Before the wedding, my parents rented an AirBnb in Louisville for themselves and my bridesmaids. After the rehearsal dinner, we went back there, and I sat on their bed and bawled. I was so happy—to be getting married to Andrew(!), to have family and friends from all stages of life in town. And I was so sad—to know all these people would turn around and leave, to feel all the weightiness of growing up. 

Happiest day ev-ar! Except for every day since. I love marriage. Glorious photo by Karyn Johnson.

Everyone told Andrew and me that the wedding day would feel like a blur, and they were right. We made concerted efforts to stop and take it all in, but it’s just too big: the emotions are too many and too strong, the number of people you want to hug is too high. I’ve never wanted so desperately to pause time. I should’ve locked the doors on that reception venue so none of you people could leave. All our people (almost all) in the same place at the same time—what have I ever wanted in life but this? Well, to get married, I suppose. So two of the things I’d wanted most in life, happening at the same time. Like I said, more emotions than I could process—gratitude and overwhelm. All the feels.

I’ve spent the past month-ish processing it—gradually like the chipping of my nails, gradually like the fading of the “Honk to watch us kiss!” painted on our car windows, which I obviously refuse to scrape off. We still get honked at, by the way. Here’s a recap of our first weeks of marriage, the context of my processing, for all the people whom I didn’t get to see long enough or hug hard enough at the wedding.

Atop Emerald Bay (in our Mets shirts from my friend Kristina!)

1. Lake Tahoe, heaven on earth

Andrew and I made no plans for our honeymoon beyond when and where, which is why we did not realize we were traveling to Lake Tahoe during the “shoulder season,” when the summer sports shops have already closed and the winter sports shops have not yet opened. This ended up being the perfect time to go, however, because the normally touristy area was actually quite empty. Plus it gave us complete freedom not to cram our trip with activities. We could hike if we wanted or nap if we wanted or binge Stranger Things if we wanted. Bliss.

2. Lots o’ travel, happy and sad

The week we got back from Tahoe, Andrew lost his beloved paternal grandmother, so we turned around and left town again to travel to New York for the funeral. I was grateful to be going with him as his wife, grateful to have gotten to know her a bit before we lost her, grateful that she made it to the wedding, grateful for her legacy and her family and the impact that her faith had on my Andrew.

The midst of death is a strange context in which to start a marriage. I lost my own paternal grandmother back in June, six days before Andrew and I got engaged, and my maternal grandmother went to the ER the day after the wedding and has been staying with my parents since. She is now in hospice care and most likely will not go back to her own home. We saw her over Thanksgiving weekend, just two weeks after the funeral (we traveled first to my parents’ in Versailles and then to Andrew’s parents’ in Ohio). It’s sobering to be faced with death repeatedly at the very beginning of our marriage, but it also intensifies my gratitude in a way. It’s harder to take something for granted when you know it will end. “Till death do us part” used to sound forever away, but these days it doesn’t. 

And this was BEFORE I moved any of my stuff in

3. Moving boxes e'rywhere

Andrew and I are technically Indianians now, having moved just across the river from Louisville to New Albany, Indiana, to be closer to our friends and our church (which are basically the same thing). 

Due partially to the travel and partially to the rain, we just finished moving the bulk of my stuff into the new townhouse the Sunday before Thanksgiving, a full four weeks after the wedding. Needless to say, we have a lot of unpacking and purging to do. (We brought lots of super random duplicate things into our marriage—like two electric kettles and two foam muscle rollers. Anyone in the market for a foam roller?) I’m overwhelmed just writing about how much stuff we have to go through. With moving, travel, and the holidays all hitting at once, our little home is basically an obstacle course of cardboard boxes and chaos. Happy, happy chaos.

4. Gifts galore

They were literally covering our entire dining room at one point.

Speaking of happy chaos, our home is also COVERED in gifts that haven’t been put away yet, which means I get reminded a hundred times a day of how loved we are and of all the thank-you notes I still haven’t written. I’M REALLY SORRY, PEOPLE, AND REALLY GRATEFUL FOR ALL OF YOUR GIFTS. 

We are going to write them. This weekend. I hope. But let me say that your gifts truly bring me more joy than I ever could have anticipated. For the most part, I approached our wedding registry in a pretty utilitarian manner. I put a few fun items on there, but most of it was strictly practical (like a plunger—it takes a true friend to buy you a plunger). Let me tell you, both the fun gifts and the practical gifts just warm my heart so much. 

We basically can’t do anything in our house without using them. We step into our home and scrape our shoes on the door mat (gift), place our shoes on the shoe rack (gift), hang our coats on the coat rack (gift). We cook dinner in our pots and pans (gift), dry our hands on our kitchen towels (gift), eat said dinner on our plates (gift) at our table (gift), and pack up the leftovers in our Tupperware (gift). We plop down under a throw blanket (gift) and dim our floor lamp (gift) to watch a movie on the Apple TV (gift) while we eat popcorn made in our popcorn maker (gift). We pull out the plunger (gift)—just kidding, I will not regale you with details of our plunger use! But, seriously, every single gift makes us feel SO LOVED and provided for, and there is not a single section of our house untouched by your sweet gifts. 

5. MARRIAGE IS THE BEST AND I AM NOW A HUGE SAP

I cannot express this in lowercase. It requires all the capitals and all of the exclamation points and all of the run-on sentences: I JUST LOVE BEING MARRIED WAY WAY MORE THAN I ANTICIPATED AND IT ACTUALLY DOES FEEL A LOT DIFFERENT THAN BEING ENGAGED AND I FEEL SO HAPPY AND IN LOVE AND NORMALLY I WOULD FEEL SUPER SKEPTICAL OF ANYONE ELSE WHO EXPRESSED THIS AND I THINK I THOUGHT ALL OF THESE FEELINGS WERE MADE UP BY HOLLYWOOD AND DISNEY AND THE BACHELOR BUT THEY ARE NOT MADE UP AS IT TURNS OUT AND I AM SORRY TO ANYONE WHOM I EVER SCOFFED AT FOR EXPRESSING ALL OF THE LOVING FEELINGS!

Andrew being a dreamboat and hanging my curtains on Sunday.

I tried to blog about getting married before getting married. I actually wrote FIVE THOUSAND words about dating and how much harder it was than I expected and how happy I was to be marrying Andrew, but I didn’t post it because I couldn’t wrap it up sufficiently, unsurprisingly. Maybe I will post it at like our first anniversary or something. But basically I overanalyzed the crap out of the decision to get married, and I was super freaked out by how hard everyone says it is, and on this side of the decision, I THINK IT IS LIKE THE BEST DECISION I HAVE EVER MADE AND THAT EVERYONE SHOULD DO IT AND I KNOW IT’S ONLY BEEN A MONTH SO YOU PROBABLY DON’T TRUST MY ASSESSMENT AND I WOULDN’T NORMALLY TRUST MY ASSESSMENT EITHER IF I WERE YOU BUT FOR THE RECORD I AM FINDING MARRIAGE FAR EASIER AND MORE ENJOYABLE THAN DATING AND ALSO I THINK ANDREW IS THE CUTEST PERSON ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET AND I FEEL BAD FOR EVERYONE WHO ISN’T MARRIED TO HIM ALTHOUGH I AM NOT INTERESTED IN ANY SISTER-WIVES SITUATIONS.

The permanence is my favorite part. You know how I wanted to lock you all in the reception venue and keep you forever? I actually get to do that with him. 

"Mrs. Darcy. Mrs. Darcy. Mrs. Darcy."

"Mrs. Darcy. Mrs. Darcy. Mrs. Darcy."

I keep remembering that scene from the very end of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice (pretty sure it wasn’t in the book, sadly) in which Elizabeth and Darcy are finally married and she tells him he can only call her Mrs. Darcy when he is "completely and perfectly and incandescently happy." Incandescently happy sounds about right. 

6. Domestic bliss

Andrew cooking a whole chicken, also taking up 40% of our kitchen. Have you ever seen such a cute face?

I have literally done more laundry and cooking in the six weeks since we got married than in the previous six months combined. (And Andrew has actually cooked even more than I have.) There’s just a lot more motivation to cook when you’re feeding two people instead of one. The thing is, we have the world’s tiniest kitchen. It is so so small. When you open the dishwasher, the stand-able floor space decreases by like 40 percent. Open the fridge, and you lose another 30 percent. You literally can’t open the dishwasher and the oven at the same time. Someday I will film it when we’re in there together—it’s basically a Three Stooges routine. (Except with only two stooges because there's no way three would fit.) Still, though, the thrill of getting to share all our meals and all our laundry hasn’t worn off.

7. Blogging again? 

You guys, how do I get myself to blog again? Remember when I used to post like multiple times a week? I’ve heard that a major life change is a great time to change a habit, so I will try to tack blogging onto marriage and create a new habit. I’m also trying to get Andrew to write for fun more because homeboy can write, in case you didn’t know. So we’ll try to hold each other accountable. MARRIAGE, WONDERFUL IN SO MANY WAYS. 

Oh, also, I’ll upload pics soon. And get to those thank you notes. And change my legal last name. And get a new driver’s license. And merge our bank accounts. And update my tax status. All once I finish unpacking of course. BASICALLY THERE ARE A LOT OF TO-DOS AFTER YOU GET MARRIED.