Thursday, October 25, 2012

Once Upon A Time...

Jesse and me on our wedding day in 2001
Eleven years ago Saturday, on October 20, 2001, I married Jesse James Turner, the man for whom I moved from Dallas, Texas, to Baltimore, Maryland in May of that year. It was a fairytale wedding, held in northern Kentucky where most of Jesse’s immediate family lived, which included many more brothers and sisters (six) than I had (two).
Turner siblings from left to right (and in birth order):
Jesse, Lynn, Scott, Tammy, Jay, Sherry and Tawny
As it turned out, Kentucky was a fortunate choice, since Jesse’s two youngest sisters owned a catering company at the time. All of Jesse’s siblings pitched in to help with our wedding plans, from picking out the wedding and reception venue (a historic barn filled with old farm implements and antique clocks, set amid velvety hills dotted with horses), selecting the dinner menu (and then cooking it and supervising the serving of it), baking and decorating the cake, ordering the flowers, the musicians, the disk jockey and the photographer, to decorating the reception hall inside the barn. Since the momentous event was held mid-autumn, I chose fall hues for the color scheme. Even Jesse’s father got in on the preparations by surprising us with a pair of jack-o-lanterns at the head table, expertly carved with our names in beautiful script.

Jesse's father, Jim, carved the pumpkins
Jesse's sister, Tawny, made the cake
On the eve of the appointed day, Jesse and I flew in from Maryland. My sister, Leslie, flew in from California.  My best friend, Kari, flew in from Texas to be my maid of honor and Kari’s parents, Joyce and Lyle, flew in from Washington state to give me away, as both of my parents were long deceased. The Turner siblings had done a masterful job pulling every detail together beautifully, and I couldn’t have been happier with the result.
Me with Kari's parents, Joyce and Lyle

Kari and me

The dress I designed

Ours was a fabulous wedding in every way, any girl’s dream come true, considering the miniscule budget I had to work with after spending most of my money to buy a house in Baltimore County a few months earlier. A dear friend from when I lived in Reno, Nevada, Judith Foreman, custom-made my tea-length wedding dress in ecru lace over ivory satin. She didn’t even use a commercial pattern. "Draw your dream dress on a piece of paper" she said, "and I’ll make it for you".

I designed a fitted bodice with a plunging neckline, a Guinevere dropped waist flowing to a sweeping full-circle hem and long, graceful Juliette sleeves flared at the wrists. Judith added seed pearls all around the off-the-shoulder neckline, draped strands of pearls over the elbows and across the open back, and centered a large pearl cabochon at my d├ęcolletage. After eighty hours of intense labor, Judith had, indeed, sewn the dress of my dreams, and I felt like a princess as I put it on.

The day of our nuptials dawned crisp and bright in Boone County, Kentucky. A classical guitarist and flutist played Pachelbel’s Canon in D major and other soothing tunes as guests took their seats on the lawn just outside the ancient barn. At the appointed time, a horse and carriage delivered me to the ceremony, and on Kari’s father’s arm I walked down the grassy aisle to meet my handsome groom.

After the ceremony, Jesse and I climbed into the horse-drawn coach and were whisked away, into an incredible sunset, as our guests made their way across the lawn and into the barn for the reception and dinner. Actually, we just rode in the hansom around the block and back, but it was an incredibly dreamy equestrian touch that rocketed my low-budget wedding into the romantic stratosphere.

Both longtime certified scuba divers, Jesse and I honeymooned at Caneel Bay on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a resort known for its world-class underwater topography. We were not disappointed. And since the horrific events of 9/11 had just occurred six weeks prior to our wedding, bringing air travel to a virtual standstill for months afterward, we had the resort practically to ourselves. There were only five other honeymooning couples on the entire estate the whole time we were there.

Our marriage only lasted six years, when differences of opinion about matters of grave importance to a marriage (trust and money) became so conflicted that our union could not survive, despite three years of intense counseling. But a mutually deep and abiding friendship has persisted. We can’t bear to live under one roof, but we do take pleasure in each other’s company and often seek each other out for social engagements. Since 2007 Jesse has been settled in an apartment in Baltimore City, and I continue to live in the house I bought in 2001 here in suburban Baltimore County. We grieve over the demise of our marriage, but we appreciate the friendship we continue to enjoy. Ours might not be a conventional relationship, but it works for us.

So on Saturday we celebrated our eleventh year of ersatz matrimony with dinner at the classic Prime Rib restaurant in downtown Baltimore ( I marked the occasion by wearing my favorite asymmetrical tunic with scalloped-edge trim in my favorite color, which I bought from Chico’s shortly after I moved to Maryland. I added black leggings by HUE for Macy’s and the bright red Betseyville pumps by Betsey Johnson that I bought a few weeks ago for my birthday. Highlighting the hints of yellow and orange in the red top were my favorite pieces of jewelry: citrine and garnet necklace, earrings and bracelet set in gleaming gold, all from Fire & Ice Jewelers of Baltimore, that were gifts from my husband years ago.

By candlelight we treated ourselves to filet mignon with lobster tail, roasted artichokes and a bottle of fine wine. The restaurant surprised us with chocolate mouse for dessert, and we raised a glass to toast our bittersweet circumstance, thankful that an enduring friendship is the lucky consequence of a marriage that isn’t anymore. Happy anniversary, Jesse.

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