Still Feeling Lucky 26 Years Later

The newlyweds 26 years ago | Photo from Jade Moon Jones

The newlyweds 26 years ago | Photo from Jade Moon Jones

Twenty-six years ago last week, I stepped onto the grounds of Iolani Palace hand-in-hand with the best man I know. We walked over to a small clutch of people waiting for us under the embracing shade of trees.

I remember how the grass smelled – fresh and sharp and wet.

We wanted the “official” beginning of our lives together to be intimate and full of joy. We wanted a small wedding just for us with little stress, minimum fuss and no pomp at all.

And so there was no procession. I had no bridesmaids, he had no grooms-men. We did have music, though, beautiful music.

Our friend Rocky Holmes started playing his flute as soon as he spied us strolling across the lawn, his notes dancing and sweetening the cool morning air. All of our friends greeted us with hugs, kisses, big, wide smiles and even a few tears. And then it was time.

Married – such a simple word, such a basic state of being. And yet, such a profound expression of love and commitment.

There are many, many people who choose not to marry, and I respect that. Marriage doesn’t guarantee fulfillment or happiness. It’s not for everyone.

For those who wish to take it on, though, it changes everything.

Don’t let anyone tell you “it’s just a piece of paper.”

It’s more than that.

It’s your statement to the world of your ultimate commitment. And I can honestly say I felt different as soon as those words were spoken. I felt married. I was one half of a family. It was … right.

I have to tell you, it wasn’t my first time. I eloped with my high school boyfriend almost as soon as I had that diploma clutched in my hand. But it was doomed. Children who get married do not understand the significance of the oaths they exchange. We had fun, we encountered difficulties, we were cruel to each other and we divorced within two years. That’s what happens when you play at being an adult.

It was a long time before I was ready to try again. I believe that finding “the right person” is more a function of finding yourself. I had to learn to be on my own – emotionally and physically. I needed to truly understand independence before I was ready to give up a little of it for a real relationship. I had to learn to live for me before I understood what it was to share. In other words, I had to grow up.

That part of marriage, being a grown-up, is important when the blush of romance fades. The true test comes with the ups and downs, the children, the inevitable cooling of heated desire. It’s accepting that all things change, but if you work at it, you can always rediscover the core of your love beneath the layers of life.

For so many years I accepted marriage as a normal thing. A state of grace, yes, but one taken for granted like any other fact of life. And I realize just how much I was taking it for granted, as I watch the struggle of gay and lesbian couples to marry and to be equal in the eyes of the law. I’m not trying to be political here. I just don’t understand how we can deny these fellow human beings the happiness those of us born “straight” enjoy just because of who they are. But I feel confident we will get there and that it will be sooner than we think.

I feel so lucky and incredibly blessed that my husband, Ward Douglas Jones, has been my rock and friend and lover for 26 years. He’s the kind of father to our son I wish every child could have. I’m not sure how he’ll feel when he reads this column – probably embarrassed, because he’ll think it’s personal and mushy, and he’s not an outwardly emotional kind of guy. In fact, I’ll forgo saying the “L” word in this column, because it might be a little too much for him. He knows it’s how I feel.

I will say this: I’m lucky. We’re lucky. Happy anniversary, now and forever.