We stand under the canopy separated by the discomfort we feel at the display.
You are wearing the uniform of a team you don’t really play for. Your hair is cut according to someone else’s taste. Even your shoes are a stranger’s style.
I am in white for the first time in my life. My face is covered by a thick veil that holds significance to other people. I hate that I cannot see you.
We stand in the stifling heat and we listen to people bless and pray us into our future.
You break a glass; we sip the wine.
You grab my hand and we run towards a few moments of privacy.
I am in your arms and we are happy because we are alone and also happy that we are certified now and they approve and also dreading the rituals and the obligations we are about to face.
But we are together so we can draw strength from the power we found when we became us.
We are so young. We are so desperate for acceptance. We will do anything to prove our love is the right kind of love…the kind that we were raised to believe in…the kind that builds the acceptable kind of family…the continuation of the Jewish bloodline…the kind of future our ancestors would be proud of.
So we face the hundreds of people who have come to witness this return to the fold. We dance on opposite sides of a curtain. We wash our hands for bread and we make the blessings with all the truth we can muster because we are determined to begin our future the way we have been brought up to believe is the only way.
We are happy.
We are together so we are happy.
We make meals and we invite friends and we beam and we pray and we hope and we continue to love as we become the adults our parents prayed we would be.
We lose a child and we thank God.
We are happy because we are together.
I immerse every month and I pray and you slip away as you doubt and then I slip away as I doubt and then we are staring at a little girl and we are so in love and so happy and so together.
Our love looks different from what we saw love to be so we think maybe it’s not the right kind of love but she loves our love so it has to be right. She laughs and sings as we hold her between us and dance to songs we were kept sheltered from when we were babies. She knows Led Zeppelin and Santana and grows to idolize Queen even as I adjust my head covering and you grow your beard long and your side-locks even longer.
We are unconventional and learning to be fine with that.
We move close to our family and we think our little life is so normal and then we see that our way doesn’t match their way and we feel isolated and unsure.
We are so in love that I hurt when you hurt and you choose me when I hurt and so you lose people.
We are happy because we are together.
We are back in our homeland because we have found out that family cannot replace the soil where our roots grow deep.
I am flat in bed while you work all day and we are poor and we are getting angry and we are stuck because we are so in love that when we aren’t together we are scraping at our skin and bleeding ourselves to death but our love is standing against the fears of our youth that are shaking our foundation.
Now we are five minus one and we are broken and complete and we are ready to face things because we know it is time for our love to expand into our days so that we can build on us and not them.
I shave my head because the noose is tightening and you stroke my cheek and untie the cloth that proclaims my allegiance.
You torment your soul and bare it before me and I squeeze your hand and promise you forever.
We are slowly moving away from everyone else and closer to each other and even though we are scared we know we can’t lose.
We are happy because we are together even when we are alone.
The air is heating up around us and is getting heavier so we shake off the chains that bound us and we face the mirror side by side. We know we will become an island if we peel it all off but if we don’t we will become strangers.
We have to be together because we have to be in love.
Our love is stronger than the faith we lost. Our love is accepting and forgiving and we don’t care what anyone else thinks anymore.
But I am falling and gasping for air and you aren’t falling with me because you need to be the one to catch me and your arms reach out the length of two years while I tumble and turn down a rabbit hole I didn’t see coming.
I slam into you and think I broke you because it is taking you so long to stand back up until I realize that my arms are still around your neck. I peel myself from you and you stand me at your side and you slowly lift my shoulders until I can meet your eyes.
We are together and we are crying and we are still happy because we are crying together.
We laugh and dance and sing and cry and rage and lose and grieve and search and change and live together.
We are in love and we are so lucky because we are in love together.
It is 13 years since we stood beneath a canopy and couldn’t see the future.