“Be brave, young lovers, and follow your star,
Be brave and faithful and true,
Cling very close to each other tonight.
I’ve been in love like you. “
–Oscar Hammerstein II, “Hello Young Lovers,” from The King and I (1951)
Last month my husband and I celebrated our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. As I looked at our wedding photos (and cringe and laugh a little at the men in the 1970s era powder blue tuxedos. Oh those 70s fashions!), I thought of all the people who were there at our wedding, but who are no longer alive: my father, my husband’s father, my grandfathers, all of his grandparents, and some aunts, uncles, and friends. As I gazed at the photos, I also had an admittedly odd thought–it seemed strange to me that our daughters were not there to celebrate such an important event in our lives.
It was the first big wedding in either of our families, and it was such a day of laughter, tears, and merriment.
We still laugh at the memory of my reserved, non-dancing father-in-law being pulled and spun into the hora circle by an exuberant, dancing friend of my parents.
Our first daughter would not make her entrance for almost a decade after our wedding, and our second daughter three years after that. By that time, I had finished graduate school and published my first book.
I was a different person thirty-five years ago when we married, young and naïve. I had no idea then that my husband and I would have two such incredibly wonderful, talented daughters– young women who are truly good and kind, and who want to make the world a better place.
Parenting is not easy. Like marriage, there are ups and downs. But with my daughters, I can honestly say there have always been many, many more ups than downs.
Thirty-five years ago, I never imagined I would have one daughter about to enter graduate school and another about to begin her first “grown-up job,” even as she juggles what are sometimes competing interests in teaching and acting. I never imagined I would have daughters who were balancing love, careers, and all the issues of young adulthood.
I also never imagined thirty-five years ago at my own wedding that someday my older daughter would be planning her wedding to another woman. Nor how excited I would be about it, and how thrilled I am that she might be wearing my wedding gown. Love is love, and I am so happy that she and her fiancée have found each other.
Thirty-five years ago, “gay marriage” was not something I ever heard mentioned. But times change. My younger daughter recently had a discussion with her young cousins who enthusiastically supported it. (OK, the five-year-old could not quite wrap his mind around the concept, but the older two thought it was wonderful that their cousin was going to marry the woman she loves.)
My daughter’s “gay marriage” will not be legal throughout the United States. But laws change. When my husband and I got married thirty-five years ago in Pennsylvania, we were required to get blood tests proving that we did not have syphilis or other diseases before we could get a marriage license. That law no longer exists. In 1967, the Supreme Court overturned state bans on interracial marriages in Loving v. Virginia. Slowly, too slowly, laws are being written and bans are being overturned. I hope that some day there will not be a distinction between “gay” and “straight” marriage. I hope and believe that someday in the United States there will simply be marriage, marriage without a modifier in front of it, marriage for any two people who love each other. I hope that someday both my daughters and all lovers, young and old, will be able to follow their stars. I’ve been in love like you.
“Love doesn’t make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning