On the appointed day, we arrived at the City Clerk’s office of New York at eleven in the morning, got a number and waited our turn. In less than ten minutes, along with our witnesses, we were summoned into a chamber where a lady judge stood with that stern motherly voice, asking us to produce the rings.
She looked me straight in the eye first as Spouse A and asked if I would take the person beside me to be my spouse, to love, cherish and care for until death do us part. I first thought, editorially, that all she had mentioned were in the past tense since we’d been doing that, with some glitches, for the past four decades. She may not have known that, and so I said Yes… hesitatingly, and then, assertively… I do.
She asked me to place a ring on Jonathan’s finger and I obliged. I nervously, clumsily and unromantically inserted the ring.
She then eyed Jonathan and asked the same question, and he gave his enigmatic smile, the one that has always enraptured me, and responded I do.
She raised her voice, looked slightly up to the ceiling and in the presence of our three witnesses, declared that in the authority vested in her by the State of New York we were now officially married and could kiss each other.
The room blurred as I let tears fall, Jonathan was misty-eyed as well. This was that moment I sensed was the missing element in our relationship: the witnessing of truth, our love and a State affirming and reminding us of that truth now jointly promised.
We walked two blocks to our “reception” in Chinatown to treat our young witnesses. Years back, Chinatown offered the most affordable weekend dinners for us. Now, we ate in a fancy Peking duck restaurant with absolutely the crispiest duck skin. After that sumptuous lunch we parted with our witnesses and we walked towards Greenwich Village, where we first danced long ago to Donna Summers and fell in love.
John L. Silva is executive director of the Ortigas Library, a research library in Manila.
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