I’ll post this for now, because this blog has already gotten very bloated.
Q. Why Palm Springs?
A. From the start, we liked the idea of going out of town to get married. We considered Northern Arizona, Sedona, Tucson, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, Agua Linda Farm on the Arizona-Mexico border, and other places one or both of us loved. Eventually, when googling “desert wedding,” we found a contest run by a talented L.A.-based photographer. She was celebrating the release of her new Joshua Tree calendar and giving away a wedding photography package to a couple wishing to be married in either Joshua Tree or Palm Springs. When we found out we won, it helped us narrow it down to the Southern California desert.
Our first thought was a small ceremony in the middle of the Mojave desert in or near Joshua Tree National Monument. Eventually, though, we found the logistics of an off-the-grid wedding (even a small one) too daunting. We were so happy when we found Casa Cody, next to the San Jacinto Mountains in Palm Springs. It’s lovely yet unassuming, and full of history. We are thinking of getting married under a beautiful old olive tree on the property.
In our case, place is and isn’t important. Like other couples, we want to get married some place meaningful and beautiful. But in the end we are grateful for the privilege of loving one another and getting married, and the honor of celebrating the milestone surrounded by loving family and friends.
Here is the essay I wrote that caught the eye of Melissa, our photographer, and got us to Palm Springs. The question was: “Why do you want to get married in the desert?”
I grew up west of Joshua Tree, in the citrus town of Riverside. My parents met in a grove there in 1972 while picking oranges. Six months later, they were married. Forty years later, they still tell stories about the heat and sweat and the low wages–and that peculiar moment when my mother first heard someone utter my father’s name and felt a strange twinge behind the ears. She said that when she heard his name, she felt something for him, even though they had never met.
Even though I was raised under the auspice of a healthy marriage, I grew up thinking I would never get married. I thought I was too lonely and strange. Too independent. Too much in love with books, trees and art. Then I met Dave. His laugh was full and genuine. Part-time stand-up comic, full-time call center captive. Dave was also a refugee from California living in the Arizona desert. He was from Santa Cruz. He told me stories about the wild parties that went on in his North Phoenix bachelor pad, and I listened with a mix of curiosity and skepticism. Was he really as nice and honest as he seemed? We went on a handful of dates and I spent months asking questions, probing, trying to figure him out. Was he just a “fat funny guy who likes to have fun,” as he told me when I first met him. I asked more questions. His answers were full and honest. We started spending more time together. We were deep in that period when you start to disappear from your ordinary life, and start building what feels like a secret universe together. Your friends start wondering where you are. You start going to places you wouldn’t normally go to. Dave went to art museums with me. I went to watch him play disc golf. We seemed mismatched: the girl who preferred bookstores over bars, and the boy who spent nights in crowded bars to tell bawdy jokes into a microphone in front of half-drunk strangers.
Dave told me how he had been hurt in the past, and always thought he would someday simply resign himself to a “mediocre” relationship. I told him how I always thought I would travel the world and never marry. Months passed and we only grew closer. We watched movies, cooked meals together, talked for hours on the phone. We visited every photo booth in town, mugging and kissing for the white-hot lights. Today, we find it difficult to spend a full day apart.
Early in our relationship, I confessed my secret to him: I had always suspected I was much too “weird” for true love and would never find someone who could love me wholly, deeply and for the rest of my life. He responded, “Baby, have you met me? If you think you’re weird too, then we’re made for each other.” That made me smile. Dave always makes me smile. Now here we are, two years later. We are still very weird and, apparently, quite lovable. And we are engaged to be married. I think we’ve both learned so much from each other, and from the love we’ve nurtured and grown. We have learned that a loving relationship has the potential to make a person better, and by extension, possibly even make the world a little better. I love Dave so much and I want the sum of this love to spread its energy across the world in ways small and imperceptible or large and palpable.
Things I’ve learned: love can make you a better cook, it can make you walk into a room a little taller, it can make you smile at strangers. Love can make you a better, more open-hearted listener. It can help you sleep better at night.
I am writing this because we want to get married in the desert, a landscape both spare and dramatic as life itself, and we want this day to be documented with beauty, care, and–what else–love.
Yes, I am long-winded and nearly missed addressing the contest question. But sometimes being long-winded can pay off.