Twenty years ago today, as a 100-degree-plus heat wave broke, my soon-to-be-husband and I stood on the east bank of the Hudson River while a rabbi pronounced us legally wed. We walked away with two documents: one New York state could recognize and one with religious significance. The Jewish one is called a ketubah. It’s in Hebrew, and there’s a big wine stain on it. No, as far as I know, they do not sell them pre-stained, but what do I know? According to Rabbi Fish—if that’s his real name; he seemed to improvise quite a bit—the spillage of the wine was “good luck.” And, also according to him, the document boils down to this: I am the guardian of my husband’s soul and he is supposed to take care of me.
I was never really certain how to put that into play. Did it mean that I should want for nothing, but I was responsible for his decisions? Or the other way around?
Since neither of us knows Hebrew, we started calling the parchment into play whenever the situation warranted: “You’re supposed to get the mail on Tuesdays; it’s in the ketubah!” “You have to come grocery shopping with me…” Yeah, I’m sure you get the picture.
So after the spillage of wine and a sudden breeze that almost took my veil and half of the groomsmen’s yarmulkes, there was a party. I’m told the food was good. Between thanking all our guests and posing for pictures, I barely got more than a few bites. We stopped for pizza on the way home from our own wedding.
Much as I play-gripe about the Bridezilla horrors of the day, it was a great party. We had a smoking band, my brothers sat in on drums and guitar, small nephews wore tie-dye and danced, my dotty little Polish grandmother had to be rescued from going into the men’s room.
It sounds like a cliché to say that it was all a blur or that time goes so quickly, but it was and it did. I blinked and the wedding was over. I blinked again and it’s twenty years later. In my head, I know time passed. My hair changed color. Entire whole people grew up during that interval. The small nephews are in college and my little Polish grandmother is probably somewhere in the hereafter playfully scolding her husband while he asks how much she spent on that new dress.
It will probably be a quiet celebration, but Husband has vowed to take me back to the wedding hall on the Hudson one day so we can actually try their food. He has to. After all, it’s in the ketubah.