The N @ vy I am sure like the @rmy, @irforce and M @ rines do not operate on a Monday through Friday system. The base was a constant flurry of activity regardless of day or hour. Unlike civilian life it was rare for Jacob to leave the apartment to begin work at 8, and to return home at 5. Once out of A school weekends off were rotated, and duty shifts lasted for 24 hour period followed by a regular 8 hour day under the water line of a topside submarine. Luckiy for us, such was the case following the 4th of July holiday in 1998. Jacob stood a 24 hour watch Sunday July 5th-Monday July 6th. During that time he made arrangements with his commanding officer to take a day of leave on July 7th. While on duty he called home and told me to take Tuesday off myself. When questioned he wouldn’t tell me why. He just “demanded” that I do it.
When he came home on the evening of the 6th he told me that we were going to get married. At first I didn’t believe him, but then when then excitement entered in. True to his word we woke early the next morning. It was only a 2 hour drive from Groton to Brattleboro, but since our route took us through Hartford we knew we would be stuck in some pretty heavy rush hour traffic. True enough a 2 hour drive took 3. We arrived in Brattleboro at approximately 10 a.m. and headed towards the same “court house” that we had found on the Friday before. This time there was no hand written sign on the door which meant they were open.
Hand in hand we walked inside, and looked around for somone who could help us. Once we did we announced that we wanted to be married. The very nice lady told us we were in the wrong location for a wedding. If we really wanted to be married we needed to proceed to the town clerks office which was up over the grassy knoll. Jacob and I looked at each other and then back to her. “Tell us, was the town clerks office open on July 3rd?” She nodded in the affirmative, and we were on our way. We couldn’t help but laugh as we walked through the park that had seperated us visually from this building on July 3rd. Had we not been so glum, and had taken a walk we could have already been married.
Once we entered the building we once again informed the clerk of our intention to marry. She handed us a form, and asked that we fill it out. She then asked if we had already contacted a justice of the peace or if we were going to be married by a pre-selected clergy. When we told her no, she handed us a list of JP’s that we could call. We then handed her the $23 for our licence and proceeded to a pay phone. We started at the top of the list, and worked our way down. The first JP was out of the office and wasn’t returning until the following week. The second’s phone was answered by an answering machine. The third answered, but was busy for the remainder of the day. We had two left on the list and were starting to panic, when the fourth said HELLO, we were ecstatic.
Francis S. Gibs0n would be happy to marry us, but…isn’t there always a BUT? She had to attend her grandchilds dance recital. If we were willing to wait until 1:30 that afternoon she would come to the clerks office and would be happy to officiate our vows. With over 2 1/2 hours to spare we took in the sites. Being so close to New Hampshire we crossed the border and visited Wal-Mart again. Upon our return we had our wedding lunch at Burger King, and then we walked across the street and had ice cream next to the Connecticut river. It was a steamy hot day, but it was a memorable one.
Punctually at 1:30 Mrs. Gibs0n arrived. Jacob handed her, her $35 fee and she proceeded to ask if we would like to be married outside under the Oak tree as opposed to the middle of a busy hall way. We both agreed and headed outside. I was pleasantly surprised when rather than it being a rapid fire “Do you take…” That it was slow and meandering. She asked if we had any religious persuations and proceeded to read a passage for us. When it came time of us to exhange our rings and our vows my voice cracked from nervousness. As I was placing Jacob’s gold band on his finger I dropped it in the dirt. I picked it up and said “I hope that isn’t an omen”
With the pronouncement of marriage in accordance to the state of Vermont it was over. All that remained was for our certificate to be signed. After 4 years of dating, and 1 of living in sin, I couldn’t take my eyes off my left hand. People may say its just a piece of paper, but its more than that. Its the most unique feeling to have just gotten married…no matter how many steps it took to get to the alter.
On our first anniversary we revisited the spot, and finally got some photos of us under our tree…you see, just like today…the day we got married, I forgot the camera…maybe next year I will post our official wedding portrait another day…