1.12.2017

Gotta Get Married

Well, you know how the story goes?

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage?

Yeah, we didn't follow that story.

Geoff and I had a short romance, and quickly followed that with an adorable baby. But, we weren't married yet.

In August of 2001, shortly before my daughter was born, my sister, Ruth had her Bat Mitzvah. For those who don't know, that is a Jewish ceremony of welcoming a 13 year old girl as an adult learner of Torah and our faith. The student leads the service, reads from the Torah, reads from our Rabbinical texts, the Haftarah and gives their own interpretation of all of those readings. It takes years to prepare for, months to practice the Hebrew reading and, needless to say, it's a REALLY big deal.

While we were greeting family after the service, several people remarked about my very enlarged belly and lack of jewelry on my left ring finger. In some cases, I might say stereotypes aren't true, but, quite frequently, it is clear that they are. Nearly every female friend of my mother's made a comment about "still time to marry before baby...", "don't you want to get married first?" and on and on. All we did was smile and say, "No, thank you." Because, really? Health Insurance.

And honestly, isn't that the most Jewish reason of all? Money!

Well, baby came and since she was soo high risk and health insurance policy rules being what they are, we had 30 days to get coverage.

Thanks to the lack of internet and a good friend in the right place; we could get family insurance as long as we were married by Friday, the 21st. Seems easy enough, right?

Well, the first step in doing that is going to get your marriage license. Generally this can be done in a County Clerks Office. In Shelby County, where we lived, there are a few Clerks Offices around the city. They try to spread them out and have them accessible in various parts of the city.

We looked in the phone book and found the locations of the Clerks Offices. Which thinking back sounds so dark ages, but internet was not what it is now and certainly was not on your phone! Called to confirm their hours and find out what we needed to bring with us and made our way over to the office....in the Mall of Memphis.

To those unaware, you're probably thinking, 'smart thinking to put that in a mall!' Ha! This was a gentrified mall if there ever was one! What was once a booming mall centrally located in Memphis, right off the interstate with an ice-skating rink, desirable shops, a carousel and great food selections; now had the rink, but the food court had 2 shops, most of the 2nd floor was empty, the anchor stores had pulled out and most of what was left was airbrush, cheap clothes and cheap, a wedding shop, fake gold jewelry and the Clerks Office.

We arrived at the Mall, parked and walked in with our sweet little baby. We didn't really fit in with the environment, but we didn't really care. We walked in to the office, filled out the paperwork and waited our turn. It always seems like City offices are a little dingy to me. I don't know if it's a rule that they have to feel that way, or if they don't get cleaned as well or maybe it's the cheap fake linoleum flooring that doesn't clean well? I can't put my finger on it, but it never fails, they all feel the same way.

Our number was called and we walked up to the counter. The woman greeted us in a strong Southern twang, "Hey, y'all! What's up?!" And so the conversation continued as we registered with the office to declare our desire to get married.

We walked out of the office with our marriage license in an oversized folder and excitement in our hearts and on our faces. Immediately, a woman walked up to us, much the same way women try to get you to try perfume at the makeup counters, and offered us a 50% off coupon to get married in the Mall! Of course, you already can guess what happened.

I had been raised "better than that" I was not someone to get married in the Mall! And certainly not this awful, nasty, shell of a mall, the Mall of Memphis. I wasn't one of those people, we weren't those people. When we got home, I called a family friend, a judge, and he agreed to marry us.

The days passed and we planned for our "Big Day" in the judges chambers.

His secretary called, he had to start a murder trial that week, he couldn't marry us.

And so, on September 21st, 2001, I found myself being one of those people and walking into the Mall of Memphis to change from Miss to Mrs.


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