The morning of April 22, 1977 Nobu put on his best sports coat and tie.
He looked so handsome!
At twenty-four I had begun to eschew make up but today I carefully applied mascara and lipstick. I curled my hair and put on my new dress.
Nobu and I stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom. I was proud.
It was a sunny, warm April day. We held hands as we drove , chatting about this and that.
I tried not to get too excited, silently reminding myself that the courthouse was my idea, that this day was special only to me. We waited in a line sandwiched in between those conducting mundane business, paying fines or researching deeds.
The sheer ordinariness began to be oppressive. I didn’t need bouquets of gardenias and roses, but the room smelled of bureaucracy and paperwork.
I squeezed Nobu’s hand and tried to smile, seriously questioning my decision. When it was our turn we dutifully handed our paperwork to the clerk behind the counter. She confirmed the spelling of our names and pulled a blank marriage license from a pile on the counter. Her pen hovered a moment and she gathered her concentration. Then she started to write.
I had long admired other’s penmanship. My handwriting looked more like chicken’s traipsing over a piece of paper. But in my life I’d never seen anything like this. I was in the presence of an artist.
When she was done the clerk blew on the ink, making sure it was dry and gave it to us with her heartfelt congratulations.
My hands trembled when I held the document. I found out many years later that this woman was renowned for the beauty of her handwriting. At the time I only knew that something special had happened.
A small breeze drifted in from the opening of the window behind me, carrying the scent of blossoms into the room. The butterflies of a bride-to-be fluttered not unpleasantly inside.
It was a great day for a wedding.
All we needed to seal the deal was the actual ceremony. Even the specter of some civil servant mumbling our vows couldn’t dampen my spirits.
The woman with a clipboard said, “Well, aren’t you lucky. Today the supreme court judge is marrying couples.”
Nobu and I wound our way through a maze of hallways until we hit a dead end. The office was huge with a mahogany desk that filled half the space.
The judge wore khakis and a white shirt. He tightened his tie while he chatted pleasantly. His secretary asked if we had friends to act as witnesses. I told her no. She was embarrassed for us and agreed to stay.
The judge asked for his robe. When he fastened it around his shoulders the companionable fellow disappeared. In his place was a man who commanded respect and full attention. Even his voice was deeper, more resonant.
I stood shoulder to shoulder with the love of my life and paused to take in this tableau.
A lovely yet somber room, an officiate of great importance, an anonymous witness, Nobu and me.
It was perfect.