-March 11, 2001

As of this date, wuukiee and i are formally engaged.

And you know what?

It means nothing.

Nothing that matters, anyway. Nothing that wasn't already a given. Nothing, well.. nothing that concerns us. Our engagement is not for us. It is for everyone except us.

As for us, we don't need an engagement, not now. We are past that; we know. We have known, for some time. Half a year.

More.

As far as we are concerned, we are married. Because marriage is what this is: permanence. A promise. And the marriage will begin not whenever the wedding finally comes, but when the promise was made real; somewhere around the beginning of this past school year. When we first knew, and knew that for us, this was truth, this was a truth that would never change, that this was permanence.

And truth be told, that marriage is formal. Not legal, not yet; but since september we have been handfasted-- recognized by wuukiee's religion, if no one else, as husband and wife, at least until the next september. (And really.. handfasting, to me, just makes so so much more sense than the western "engagement" concept; handfasting takes the people seriously, the union seriously.. just puts the two together and says come back in a year, we will see if we were right about this.. engagement on the other hand is just .. is nothing. Is an arbitrarily defined, hollow period in which you take the two people and say ok, you know. Now you wait. For what?) But we can't *use* that.. we can't go to other people and tell them we are handfasted and have them *understand*, have them see that and consider it anything even remotely serious.
Difficult as it is, it is in the end so much easier to interact with people if you do it in a language their minds understand.
We hope that whenever the formal wedding happens, it will be done as a simple renewing of that handfasting. That doesn't seem likely right now, but we do hope we can get the same priestess who officiated over the handfasting to officiate at the wedding if her schedule and other committments allow.
We are tired. Tired of waiting. Tired of being apart. Tired of having to hide ourselves, of hiding, of not knowing when the wedding will be. Tired of waking up every morning thousands of miles away.

And now that march 11 has passed.. the worst parts of that are over.

The basic point of the whole thing, plain and simple, was a way of telling our parents. They had no idea how deep things went; for as long as things had gone we had had no desire to share it with them, and they through their actions had made it abundantly clear if we tried to share they would not take it seriously. The problem was that we were quickly approaching a point where they would have, to some extent, to know.

This fall i will begin attendance at the same college wuukiee currently attends. At this point, we could reasonably complete the mairrage formally, and move on to the simple thing we each want more than any other: simple living together. We realized, though, that if we were going to do anything drastic once in a situation where they couldn't touch us, then would need to be given some form of advance warning. So we chose to do the simple thing most likely to piss them off: force the issue, now. Do a thing that forces them to see, and forces them into a position where they can neither ignore or fight it. Our thought was that we needed to seperate the basic pissing off from any chance of anything actually happening soon by a vast gap. It would be much more difficult for them to fight now, when there is nothign to "fight" yet, than at the point we suddenly announce to them we are ready to be married; it would be much more difficult for them to fight then, at the point at which we finally begin to make our moves, if there is no explaining left to occur at that point. And of course we needed some way to know EXACTLY what their reactions would be LONG in advance of actually doing anything they could react to.

And so, plain and simple: an engagement. Throw something down in front of their faces, and dare them to do anything about it. It wasn't a proposal; it was an ultimatum, directed wholly at them. No actual proposal happened that day, in fact. We claimed it did, but of course no such thing was needed; The decision, like i said, had already been made long ago. We had planned the staged proposal together, from the beginning-- picked the ring together, mapped out together what we would do in every possible eventuality, worked out together how to balance out the fact that we had both very well developed views on this subject despite the fact we claimed wuukiee had no idea the engagement was coming.

We probably would not have done it this way if the weekend of March 9 to 11 hadn't been such a perfect window. Wuukiee had just gotten back for spring break, but had not yet left to go on the little family trip thing to the beachhouse they had rented in the Galveston area, and there were a few days padding for things to unfold in before i left on the school-sponsored trip to NY i was going on. Most importantly, though, was the simple fact i turned 18 on March 9.

Maybe i should make it clear here that from the moment we went into this, we were prepared to accept anything that could arise from it. Anything, to the point of us both being kicked out of our respective parents' houses or disowned on the spot. But it wasn't just that we had to be ready for these things-- we had to be able to accept them wholeheartedly. Because quite simply, all our parents had to use against us-- have to use against us-- are threats. Threats of denying things. Threats they believe are ironclad. Threats that are all bluffs, horrendous colossal bluffs. They will gladly threaten to disown us, but they won't actually do it-- they want, us, they need us. They want to keep their little dolls. They don't want us to go away and leave them all alone.

Still, though, they have as their ultimate weapon the ability to just say, if you do this, we will not pay for your college. And they believe nothing can go against this. They believe we need them, need their money, and so they can set whatever terms for things to happen in that they like. And here lies the most important thing that had to happen the eleventh: we had to tell them that that was wrong. That was, in the end, the one thing that mattered if it got across: very simply, No. We don't need you. We don't need your money. We would like you to be a part of what we do (a lie-- they are vaguely nice people, both sets, we definitely don't *want* to *hurt* them, and wuukiee still feels she owes her parents something despite the fact that in the end they have taken even more from her than mine have from me, but-- they hold nothing for us. They have no conception of our needs; we have no desire for them to be a part of our lives, in any way) but we do not need you to. You have no power over us. We will decide how we will live, we will set the terms of it, and you will decide whether to involve yourself or not.

And we mean that. And so they have no power over us. None. Because we have as our ultimate weapon the ability, if they present us with a threat, to accept it. Simply say, alright, fine. We shall support ourselves, then. We are capable of living.

We will live.

And that is why i had to be 18 at the time we first challenge them; because if they threatened to kick me out of the house, i had to be in a position where legally i could walk out the front door and leave and they couldn't stop me. We had to be ready for anything.
And so the eleventh came, and we threw down in front of them a thing that they were completely unfamiliar with, a thing that they had avoided seeing for a long, long time. A thing that we had long learned never to let them near anything of the type, because every time we let them near one they would come in and destroy it; a thing that we now threw in their faces with a sense of relief that felt a billion years old, knowing that this time, this time, they had no power to destroy. A thing nobody really wants to get from their children.

The complete and unfiltered truth.

And it was this: That we are going to live the rest of our lives together. That we are going to live the rest of our lives as one. That we are going to decide when the rest of our lives started, and that how our parents reacted to that decision meant extremely little to us-- because those lives were ours, not theirs. Those lives are ours, and we are now reclaiming them. And that digging ourselves into student loans and part-time jobs was something that we did not think would be particularly easy, but that to us, it was infinitely easier than living still as dolls for our parents. Infinitely easier than living still in a half-adult-half-child limbo. Infinitely easier than living apart. That the pain of having to find ways to support ourselves without interfering with a college education is, in its way, the thing we want more than any other, because it is living, pure unadulterated living, living with pain and hardship and all the other things that have been completely, completely absent from the blind suburban cocoons we have both been locked in all our lives.

And, to some extent, we won.

Neither set of parents is happy with the timing. Both sets want us to wait for after college to get married. Both sets are saying that if we get married before then, they stop paying. My parents are torn in that they really want this to happen, they just can't accept it happening while we are not financially independent (a thought we can see the logic in) and can't accept it happening this early (a thought we cannot). Her parents are a different story altogether. They don't like me. They never even really seemed to accept the idea of our "going steady", weird as it is to be using that term-- they have for about a year been bitterly complaining to wuukiee over her failure to date other guys during that time, saying she is "limiting herself" and and "too young to date exclusively". But that is a story too long to recount here, and one that is not important; my parents will fight us just as bitterly as hers. It does not matter. Her parents are actually trying to get her to break the engagement "until later", wanting to believe if they pretend it isn't there then it never happened. It does not matter.

We know now we will have to pay our way through college if we are going to live together. It does not matter. We are finished. We got what we wanted out of that night-- they know what we are going to do, and we know what they are going to do. The fighting is over. And most importantly, most importantly of all, they cannot touch us. They cannot really hurt us, they certainly cannot stop us. They have no power over us. We are free.

And our parents don't know this next bit, but we have hard numbers now. We've talked to the college, and we know now that if we married, we would-- as financially independent adults living, working (over the summer) and paying taxes in Indiana-- qualify for the school's interpretation of "state residency", meaning our tuition prices would shoot way down. Down to the point where we know we could survive now. The federal student loans that we are guaranteed, together with the bits of merit-based scholarship that we are absolutely certain we will be getting at this point, are enough to completely cover our the tuition, food, and academic expenses for the both of us, as well as the apartment that Wuukiee already has a lease on and may be living in next semester (her parents are now trying to take the apt. away, even though it's cheaper than a dorm contract, in an act of rather-unsubtle retribution for our "rebelliousness".. i'll update with what happens later), with a little bit of money left over that (while we haven't gotten exact numbers on this bit yet) we are currently planning on putting into health and auto liability insurance. We are weak, still, but we can do this. We know this now. The only thing we are not guaranteed at this point is disposable income, and we never asked for that. And so come this september our handfasting will be renewed, and come the summer after my freshman (wuukiee's sophomore) year-- if things are all going how we think they will, of course-- we will be married. And living together. And alive.

And the waiting that has thus far continued for as long as either of us holds the memory of self-awareness will be over.

Our lives will be ours.

For now, though, know that the ring wuukiee is now wearing so visibly on her left hand is being displayed in such a way because its sole purpose is for it to be seen. It holds, to us, no value as anything other than a really rather beautiful piece of craftsmanship. The symbols that hold meaning to us, meanwhile.. well, those are either worn less visibly or kept somewhere inside. But the ring, the engagement-- those are props, things for the benefit of not us, but the world. As a way of telling the world.

We dont have any reason to hide it anymore.