To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mastery Year: Part 4: Post 2: Neither Bound nor Free

There are days that belong to the future and then suddenly and surprisingly become the present. My wedding was one of these. I am now a married man. It feels different that I thought it would. I feel different. Something has changed, something I did not expect and cannot describe, since all the practical elements of my life are exactly the same as before.

It's not like we're even living together. We're still in different dorms, and she's still a yearling who's not really supposed to talk to me much, outside of a short honeymoon period we've been allowed.

We'd tossed around the idea of waiting, marrying after she graduates in February, when we can live together again, but June had an answer for that, saying "If we wait until February, and I get hit by a bus in October, I don't want my last thought to be 'I wish I'd married Daniel.'"

Well, then.

Sadie handled all of the details of food. Karen handled flowers. Joy took care of a lot of the other logistics, getting the event tent, ordering Jordan almonds and table cloths, sending out invitations...of course, we paid for their labor, as I've said, but not enough that it wasn't a gift.

We invited our families, our closer friends from home, the master's group, the candidate's group, the sprouts, some friends June has made among the yearlings, and associated partners of all of the above. It added up to almost two hundred people, more than I'd imagined, but June assures me that two hundred is still a small, intimate wedding.

We dispensed with most of the traditional fluff. No rehearsal, no rehearsal dinner, no arranged seating for the ceremony or the reception, no getaway car to be playfully vandalized by the best man (good thing, too--Charlie hates cars, and would probably have slashed its tires)...we decided that as long as we all had a good time and June and I ended up married by the end of it, the day would be a success.

The day was a success.

We met, all of us, out on the pasture in front of the Flat Field, so the embankment of  Edge of the World gave us privacy from campus and the Enchanted Forest gave us privacy from the road. We had a few chairs, for those who needed them, but most of us stood. The day was hot, muggy, and partly cloudy, but a breeze gave relief from the heat and blew away most of the mosquitoes. Sarah had changed the grazing rotation and had the horses cut the grass in that pasture just for us. She'd even had all their droppings picked up and moved, which I appreciated. We met in a big circle defined by Tiki torches, and Kit cast a magic circle on our wedding ground ahead of time so as not to overly frighten my uncle.

Each of us introduced ourselves by first name and by relationship to me and June, going around the circle, except June and I went last. Kit went first, describing what we were supposed to do. The introductions were her way of raising energy for the ritual, as she had told us earlier, but the outside guests just thought it was a way to break the ice, which it was, too, of course. A lot of our guests had never met each other before.

"I'm Kit, I'm Daniel's friend and your Mistress of Ceremonies today."
"I'm John, Daniel's brother."
"I'm Ace, I've known Daniel since middle school."
"I'm Aaron, June's cousin and friend."

And so on.

I didn't know what Charlie would say. He has referred to me as his friend in the past, though I've never been sure if he really is. At other times he's referred to himself formally as my professor, adviser, or primary master, depending on whom he is addressing. I looked at him, standing near me, straight and solid in his full uniform, cloak included despite the heat.

"My name is Charlie and I am Daniel's Teacher," he said. I could hear the capital letter of Teacher in his voice, and I thought it sounded just right. And I could hear a ripple of shifting and murmuring among my guests around the circle. I've been talking about him more than I thought I had.

"I'm Allen, June's teacher and Daniel's friend," said Allen, completing the circle, except for me and June.

"I'm June, and I'm Me. And I'm Daniel's beloved."
"I'm Daniel, myself, and June's beloved."

These were not ritually composed or rehearsed words, but when we said them, the circle erupted in cheering.

In the center was a smaller circle defined by river stones and by potted, flowering plants. Kit stood on its edge and made a short and very funny speech, describing who she is, what being a Wiccan priestess means and what it doesn't (my uncle was not the only one of the guests who might have been confused on that subject), the fact that the wedding ceremony itself wasn't specifically Wiccan just because its officiant is, and what love and marriage are. Then she beckoned us forward.

June and I had been standing roughly on opposite sides of the circle. We came together, towards each other, and stood just outside the inner circle, Charlie by my side, June's mother by hers. She and I had both been wearing cloaks, mine the brown of anyone who has completed the novitiate, hers left white. I took mine off and handed it to Charlie, who folded it over his arm with all the formality of a Marine at a funeral, but he straightened my uniform and dusted off my shoulders with a hint of hidden fondness. Then I turned to face my bride.

I wore my uniform. I had been thinking that men in the armed services wear their uniforms to wed, so I ought to do the same. But June was wearing a white wedding dress I'd never seen before, white with a just-visible blue under-dress or slip beneath, her hair done up and a gorgeous, antique gold necklace across her throat and chest, but no make-up to mar her lovely face, and she was just beautiful.

We stepped into the little circle together and Kit, standing just outside it, led us through saying our vows. These were simple, direct, and I'm not going to tell you what they are. That's private. Then we exchanged rings, rings from the same company and in the same style as the green rings of the masters, except, of course, not green, and we were married. Neither bound nor free, as the occult saying has it. We kissed, because that's what you do, but then we hugged, spontaneously, because we were happy. We were very happy, so we hugged for a very long time.

Later, we all moved to the flower-bedecked event tent on the Central Field (Kit stayed behind to farewell the magic circle) and the rest of the school community joined us there for a fantastic feast. Later, we had dancing. As June and I danced, she leaned close and whispered in my ear, "Are you sure you wouldn't have married Kit?"

"Kit, who?" I answered.

It was the correct response, probably the one she had hoped to elicit, and it made her laugh, but it was also, honestly, the genuine response. Of course, I hadn't actually forgotten my friend and longtime crush, but in that moment my head was so focused on June that it really did take me a few seconds to remember who she was talking about. Everybody but us seemed a million miles away.

That night, June and I retreated to my campsite in my spot in the woods. We had thought that was the only way to find genuine and entire privacy, other than the somewhat undignified option of hiding in crawl spaces in Chapel Hall. Plus, that spot is special to me, and it seemed an appropriate place to spend a special night. In actual fact, our wedding night was muggy and buggy and we hardly got any sleep for reasons that had nothing to do with anything fun, but we're hoping that part of the story gets to be funny someday.

Actually, it's getting to be sort of funny, now.

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