Vows to Love

– My Wedding Vows –

The moment you first stepped through my door, your eyes spoke to me as if we had never existed apart. Never had I felt such depth in a creature’s eyes. Never had I felt such an awake and penetrating presence. You were really there. There was nowhere to hide. I felt naked, fully exposed. But your soft smile and the wrinkles at the side of your eyes put me at ease. I felt safe, secure, and warm. Astonishingly, this stranger at my door made me feel home.

This was a new feeling for me. For a long time, I struggled with feelings of isolation and depression, even though I had many wonderful and loving people in my life. But as you all know, I’m weird. I’m different. I’ve never gone about things the way everyone else seems to. I question and challenge everything. I think, act, and move through the world differently. I’ve gone against the grain for as long as I can remember. I’ve carved out my own path, my own way of being, my own beliefs and understanding. I am queer in every sense of the word.

This was really hard for a long time. As I continued to move through the world, as I continued to meet and interact with more people, as I developed more and more relationships, the harder it got, the more isolated and alone I became. Finally though, in my mid-twenties, with some hard work and dedication, I made peace with myself, I made peace with life. Solitude and stillness became my closest companions. My heart opened. The walls of my being dissolved as I came to occupy the wide open space of awareness, that unformed space which knows and embraces all things but is itself no thing, entirely unborn and undying. And after sitting a silent meditation retreat 18 hours a day for a month in Thailand, that was it. I was entirely at peace with however my life would unfold, even if that meant I would spend it without a partner or family.

I doubt I would have been ready for you had I not come to this place of acceptance, this place of inner serenity, stillness, and clarity. You wouldn’t have found the same depth when you looked into my eyes. Fear and worry would have clouded my heart. Only after I had made peace with myself could I have offered you my freely given love, a love that is unrestrained.

Anyway, as everyone knows, making peace with myself is not the end of the story. For here I am today, standing across from this precious human, each of us expressing our love and commitment to the other. So, how did I get here? Well, about a year after my trip to Thailand, my brother invited me to go to Peru with him to meet the Shipibo people, who are the caretakers of the strongest hallucinogen in the world, which the Shipibo use ceremonially for healing and spiritual growth. It’s known to be one of the most emotionally and spiritually challenging experiences one can put themselves through. It makes you face the truth, face your shadows and demons, face your deepest fears. It will bring a sobriety, a clarity, a sharp attention to what matters most, to your priorities and deepest wishes. “You wanna go?” my brother asked me. “Why not,” I said. So off we went.

As it turns out, it was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. But it showed me something I could no longer ignore — I was meant to be a mama, a caretaker, I wanted a partner and family. On our last day in Peru, I just cried on my brother’s shoulder as I expressed this to him. I thought it was an impossible hope. I’m just too weird and particular to share my life and home with someone, let alone kids.

Just a few months later, there River (my Love) was, standing in my doorway, her eyes wide open, honesty and integrity radiating from her being. I was home.

You have been such a blessing, my love, my sweet girl, my precious human. You’re so beautifully strange and unique, something to marvel and wonder at. I love to witness your expression — in your art and in your being. Your words and your poetry shake me to my core. I love that I get to parallel play with you, that we can enjoy our own interests in the silence together, that we can read, write, and create together.

You are so remarkably sharp, perceptive, perspicacious, honest, and open. You speak the truth with such tact and care, with such beauty and grace, always direct and straightforward. You never compromise your integrity. You don’t put up with bullshit. Your spine is strong, your boundaries clear, and your motivations pure.

You are such a polished mirror; a clear reflection of myself. You keep me honest, sharp, pointed, and awake. You lift me up intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. You bring clarity to my aims, words, actions. You always stay open and communicative with me. Your caring awareness is so strong, I can never stray too far. You always bring me back home.

I consider you my dearest friend and teacher, a true counselor. I have so much respect and reverence for you. I have learned so much from you. And my goodness, do I love to witness your motherhood. You are the ultimate caretaker, a warrior of love, a defender of life and the innocent. When times are rough, you are exactly who I want in my corner — the adult in the room. You are a miracle, a truly an awe-inspiring creature. I love you without border or limits.

And so today, with our friends and families as witnesses, I’d like to make some sacred vows to you. I vow to work hard at this relationships. I know it won’t always be easy, but ‘easy’ is not what I signed up for. I want you to be real with me. I want your honest reflections of me. And for you to share all of your seasons with me, not just the sunshine. Give me the rain and wind too, give me the dark cold nights of winter, give me your grief and your sorrow. I want to see and witness all of you. I want to understand you. And so I vow always to try hear, feel, and see you. I vow to admire you, to support and encourage you, to uplift and care for you. I vow always to be your human.

I love you, River, for the rest of forever.

Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

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