The falling in love bit was surprisingly easy. I didn’t really have much say in it to be honest. I’m pretty sure I just woke up four years ago and realised I was stupidly, ridiculously, passionately in love with my silly Venezuelan man.
Getting engaged was pretty damn easy too. It happened over a casual conversation. I think we were engaged before either of us truly registered it. And there was no fear, no nerves, no apprehension attached to it. It felt so very right and so very easy.
Then we were planning the wedding. And that’s my forte. I made a 20-tab spreadsheet. There were formulas and time schedules. There was colour coding. I built in dropdowns and budget estimators, to-do lists and detailed guest notes. I even consulted GDPR legislation. Planning is fun. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s very enjoyable.
Then the week of the wedding itself. And that’s when my nerves set in. I wasn’t nervous about marrying Simon. I was nervous about the event going well. I was worried our guests wouldn’t have fun. I was worried people wouldn’t like the custom cocktails; I was worried people would be bored by the ceremony; I was worried people would hate the karaoke; I was worried people would find the drag performance too strange (April was wonderful). I was worried there would be fights and I was worried that people wouldn’t show up.
All these were mostly silly concerns, because everything went beautifully. Our friends and family had a blast. Drinks were drank, songs were sung, dances were danced and many laughs were laughed. At one point, Simon and I took ten minutes to ourselves to look over the room and appreciate the evening. A few people recommended we do this and I understand why. Much of the night has blended together for me now, but I clearly remember that moment. The moment we surveyed the scene. We also took that opportunity to make things truly official and update Facebook. We became the Maracara-Byrnes and I couldn’t be prouder of my new name.
But now what? Two weeks later. My brain has finally calmed. All the bills are paid, all the cards are opened, all the memories have been Instagrammed and the come down has begun. We’re married. I’m married! How weird is that?!
For many years, for most of my life, I’ve been anti-marriage. I didn’t understand why people needed the state’s approval, that piece of paper. I never thought this travesty would befall me. But it has. And it’s amazing. And it seems like the most natural thing in the world now. And we haven’t done it for the sake of the state (although, when you marry a Venezuelan you begin to appreciate the importance of that piece of paper) and we haven’t even done it to “shout it from the rooftops”. Magnificent as it has been sharing our big moment with our friends, it has been far more personal than that for me.
I have a new idea of what marriage is now. I no longer look at is as a heavy institution. It’s far more than a legal commitment. And it’s not about signalling to the world that I’m taken. Marrying Simon is about showing him how much I deeply love him, care for him, and respect every part of him. I respect his history and culture. I respect his opinions and ideas. I respect his ambitions and his future plans. And I know in my heart and mind that he feels the same about me. This marriage is bringing all of our individual experiences and hopes together to create an incredible future for both of us. We’re better together. It’s almost obvious to me now.
And while our lives are fun, exhilarating, and even easy at the moment, I am (oddly) just as excited about sharing the sad times and the hard times with him. I know we’ll get through them together, finding solace in each other during grief and finding humour in the difficult spells.
It’s still feckin’ weird though. I’m Darren Maracara-Byrne. I’m married. Does this mean I’ve finally grown up? I hope not. Nah, I’ll still continue to be my ridiculous, juvenile self. Except now I’ve someone beside me all the way to be just as ridiculous as I am.