Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy Re-Anniversary

Mars and I will celebrate our fourth re-wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day. We are not inviting anyone over to join us. And, although we enjoyed having them with us in 2004, we don't expect any of the 11,564 guests who attended our celebration to remember the occasion -- except perhaps in a very general way.

It was a civil ceremony presided over by a Criminal Court judge from the State of New Mexico. And it was real -- if we weren't already married we could have legally entered that partnership -- even though it was held on the basketball court at the University of New Mexico during halftime of a Lady Lobos regular season game. Being frequent visitors to The Land of Enchantment and fans of the University of Connecticut women's team I had begun to follow the progress of the UNM women via the Internet. They turned out to be one of the leading teams in The Mountain West Conference and one of the top five distaff programs nationally in terms of attendance. Their home arena is called "The Pit" because the entire seating area and court is below ground level and entered from above. The seating capacity is fifteen thousand plus.

In early January, 2004 they had a posting on their web site that said "Get married or renew your wedding vows on Valentine's Day during halftime" of the Saturday afternoon game against the Air Force Academy. Interested people were asked to send a short essay explaining why and winners would be selected. I emailed the info to Mars who said, "Go for it!"

I wrote up something about being UConn fans and potential emigrants to New Mexico and therefore needing to prepare to transfer our allegiance to the Lady Lobos.

On January 26th Mars got a phone call at work saying that we had won. The next day we made our vacation, flight, and hotel arrangements; and procured and mailed a copy of our wedding license -- this was indeed the real thing. Then Thursday February 12th we flew to Albuquerque carrying Mars' Mother-of-the-groom dress, my suit, and "court appropriate footwear" (i.e. sneakers) for each of us to wear onto the hardwood floor.

It being the middle of February we also brought along our down coats, which we definitely needed on Friday the 13th when we spent the day in Santa Fe -- first walking around town in teen-degree, wind-whipping weather; and then relaxing in an outdoor hot tub at Ten Thousand Waves Spa where the aforementioned conditions were made even more so by a significant lack of clothing. Water sprayed up onto the wooden deck and immediately turned to ice. But submerged in the one-hundred-plus degrees of warmth even the thick layer of snow and rustling pine trees on the adjacent hillside couldn't dim our body heat.

I have heard that thermal tubs, along with saunas and steam baths, generate heat internally in the body. Because of that, when Mars and I emerged from our one-hour soak we actually didn't even feel the cold while we wrapped up in our thin, cotton robes and walked back down the hill, and then inside for our massages. We did however pass on the opportunity to indulge in the nearby coldwater plunge.
On our re-wedding day the temperature in Albuquerque was in the low fifties when we headed out to The Pit around noon. Our instructions were to go to a specific entrance and look for Kelly, the event coordinator. There we were given tickets to the game and told to report back to the same spot for our pre-wedding rehearsal when the scorer's clock got to ten minutes. It was enough time to hear the prerecorded wolf howls that preceded the Lady Lobos onto the court, and to learn the official UNM hand gesture that greeted them -- thumb twisted under the palm, index and little fingers up, middle and ring fingers down and bouncing off of the thumb resulting in an emulation of a wolf biting.

Then we were off to rehearsal in the wrestling room adjacent to the main arena. There were twenty-one couples, two of which were actually getting married, dressed in everything from wedding dresses and tuxes to "Bride" and "Groom" tee shirts. We were each given a red rose and told to line up with the real to-be-newlyweds in front, and the rest of us alphabetically behind them. We were then led outside and back inside onto the ramp on which the two teams would be leaving the court at halftime.

The UNM players and coaches had been prepped to expect a long line of people dressed in various forms of wedding clothing. They enthusiastically greeted and high-fived us as they ran up to their locker room. The visiting Air Force Academy women however looked as if they had been unexpectedtly dumped onto the set of a reality television show, and shuffled by our group with perplexed and somewhat dazed looks on their faces.

Then the PA systems began to play the Pachelbel Canon in D.

My eyes became moist, and we were led onto the floor and aligned into rows in front of the officiant, and Lobo Lucy and Lobo Louie -- UNM mascots and designated bridesmaid and best man for the service. It looked to me as if the entire crowd had stayed in their seats and watched attentively as the group of us repeated our pledges of marriage -- although never having been the focus of attention to that many people I really couldn't tell. At one point Mars began to tear up. Then we "kissed the bride" (well half of us did) and left the court to the sounds of our names being read by the arena announcer and the cheers of the crowd.

Because the two teams were returning down the ramp, we made our exit up through the stadium seating where we received more high-fives from the fans and Mars received at least one compliment on her running shoes whose color matched that of the turquoise in her squash blossom necklace.

There was a brief reception in the UNM pressroom with wedding cake, champagne, and licenses for the participants -- as well as photo-ops with the lupine members of wedding party.

The next day in Albuquerque was sunny and in the low seventies. We went for a hike at Petroglyph National Monument among the estimated 20,000 images that were carved into the volcanic rocks between 1300 and 1650 by native peoples and early Spanish settlers.

Some of the drawings were, recognizable as birds, reptiles, etc. -- at least to our eyes and minds. Others were totally mystifying to us and possibly can only be fully understood by their initial creator. Just as these original artists would have stared uncomprehendingly at the small gathering of formally-dressed people in an athletic venue being cheered on by a crowd of strangers who shortly thereafter would return to manually simulating tiny, biting timber wolves.

These artisans however would recognize that what they were seeing with their eyes was not the whole story. They too had felt the internal heat of their own emotions, and would have known that exposing those feelings to the cold eyes of the outside world can actually increase their intensity. Which of course, in the end, is what it really is all about.

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