Storytime: Marriage

Please enjoy this post where I tell you a story about an event from my life. Nothing more, nothing less. Today’s story: How I got married.

I love preschool. The building I go to preschool in has two floors and it is filled with things that are like classrooms, but much nicer. The building has everything you could ever want: a theater where we watch movies, a giant pool with an endlessly high diving board, even a kitchen that we are given cooking lessons in. The building wraps around a playground and there is a long green field out back to play sports in.

I have three very good friends at preschool too: Chad, Lee, and Adrienne. Adrienne and her dark wispy hair. Inches taller than me but she never pushes me, never makes fun of the fact that I am always wearing dresses. Chad who has a square face and a sour disposition. And Lee who is often sick with a thin face and hair so blond its nearly white.

I like preschool because the teachers let me bring albums from my record collection at home to play during the day for the other kids. I like taking field trips, and I even like the gym time we have. We spend a lot to time going on trips and while my memories of this time are few, I can distinctly remember how much I really enjoyed learning how to swim. 

And I remember one rainy day in the spring.

The rain is coming down in thick sheets and we’re being herded through the halls between classrooms during the time when we are usually on the playground. They park the lot of us in a room whose floor is made of soft, thick interlocking carpeted tiles and then the two teachers walk out of the room for a minute.

A boy looks at me and smiles.

He’s new and I don’t want to talk to him, I hold Adrienne‘s hand tighter. The boy smiles at me again and I hate him.

When the teachers return they have a box full of doughnuts and the screaming starts immediately. I drop Adrienne’s hand to cover my ears and close my eyes – for some reason I can’t stand loud noises in a way that other kids seem specifically designed for. The noise doesn’t hold back any of the other children who quickly crowd around the doughnuts and pluck them out one by one, small hands flying over the edge of the table. When the noise finally dies down I walk over to the box of doughnuts and find it’s completely empty.

Before I can ever get a good cry started I feel a tap on my shoulder. It’s the boy and he is holding up a doughnut with pink frosting and colored sprinkles.

“Here, I got it for you”

I cautiously take it from his hand assuming he’s taken a second one for himself but no second doughnuts appears.

“What happened to yours?”

“No, it’s for you”

I take the doughnut and shove the entire thing in my mouth as quickly as I can before he changes his mind. He doesn’t. He just smiles.

His name is Justin, he is a quiet boy and on the smaller side. He has a plume of thick dark black hair and soft green eyes. He smiles shyly and sits next to me every day from then on.

The teachers think this is adorable. Why they encourage it I have no idea. I tell the main teacher that I already have two boy friends. She tells me that having a boyfriend is different. I tell her having a boyfriend is for adults.

Justin likes to hold my hand. Justin sits next to me at every activity. Justin carries my things. He lets me run through his hands without holding me back during Red Rover. He braids my hair. He saves me an extra snack. He leans on me during movies. He follows me around on the playground.

I don’t feel much of anything for Justin but one day, in art class, Justin produces a green pipe cleaner circle with three other green pipe cleaners woven around it and loudly announces to everyone that he is going to marry me.

“You have to propose properly!” I tell him.

He stops dead in his tracks, drops to one knee, and proposes exactly like the movies. Everyone claps. I want to die.

The assistant teacher takes its very seriously. They decide that for our art class we’ll all make decorations for the wedding and hold it outside on the field. They wrap my dress in thick sheets of white construction paper taped to me. People draw on the papers for good luck. Then they put streamers and crêpe paper flowers for added decoration.

Justin is wearing a black construction paper tuxedo. There is a whole ceremony. We exchange pipe cleaner rings but when the “kiss” moment comes we’re told to shake hands, which we do, Justin’s eyes brimming with joy. I don’t understand this at the time and as an adult it baffles me even more that the teachers wanted to encourage this behavior. Though we were always doing plays and creative acts other children had thought up so its possible this was seen as a play. Likely other children were assigned to roles and given lines but all of that has faded for me.

At the end of the day, I sneak away from the commotion, my “wedding dress” already in tatters. Cinderella, reverting back after midnight. Justin finds me like he always finds me. I fiddle with the pipe cleaner ring on my hand. It’s odd and it feels scratchy and strange. Justin sits with me at the edge of the playground for a long time in silence, then he reaches up and pulls me close to his face.

It’s not even a kiss, it’s a touch of lips. My first kiss after my first wedding.

“Sorry” he laughs a bit, “but I love you.”

Every day after that he wore his pipe cleaner ring to preschool but he stayed away from me. I would catch him sometimes watching me play with my friends and he’d smile at me or wave but then he’d turn away.

For some reason, I keep the ring to this day.

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