Two rooms at this hotel for the Sunday and Monday night after the wedding, with additional plans to stay over in Michigan that Saturday and Tuesday, to break the eight-hour drive up a little. Today I received permission from my boss to take a week-and-a-half break from work beginning with the Wednesday before the wedding, which allows me some time to sort through last-minute reception details and also have one week where Luke and I can simply enjoy our new married status. As I look at the calendar, I realize by this time in May I'll have been Mrs. Useless Clutter for almost two weeks. Wow.
And I'm feeling good. We've been doing a lot of reading on different Christian denominations, attempting to pinpoint our non-negotiables. It's harder than you think. For example, Catholicism believes in the Assumption of the Blessed Mother--that her physical body was transported into Heaven in addition to her soul. It teaches she was a virgin throughout her life, despite being a married woman. There are prayers for Mary, special devotions and stories about her appearing to St. Bernadette of Lourdes, the children of Fatima, and other faithful Catholics around the world.
However, in the Protestant tradition, Mary is regarded simply as another saint in the communion of saints. The "foremost of saints," according to this Web site, but Luke didn't learn the Hail Mary. He never prayed the Rosary. For him, there was no Assumption, no perpetual virginity on her behalf, because there is no basis for either one in scripture. And if there's no basis for this in scripture, why is the church teaching it? Where did these ideas come from? Church officials? Those who saw her? While we're asking questions, do I truly believe these miracles took place? If I do, how could I not raise my children in Catholicism, if it turns out no other denomination of Christianity supports them? And if I don't, how could I not leave the church?
I'm working ideas out even as I type this, so obviously I don't have any answers. For the first time in my life, I'm taking the time to question my beliefs and how they came to be regarded as truths by the Catholic church. Can you believe I got through parochial high school and college without knowing the whole perpetual virgin thing? I may not have given anything up for Lent, but I don't think it's a coincidence my religious exploration is taking place during the same time Jesus was dealing with some difficult issues of his own.
And throughout all of these hard questions, questions that might lead to answers that surprise us both, Luke still wants to be my husband. Despite my recent tendency to subject our relationship to the unforgiving glow of the pre-marital microscope, he's not once doubted his decision to make a commitment to me that will last the rest of our lives. "Are you sure you want to marry me?" I say after filling our apartment with post-sloppy joe flatulence. "Are you sure you want to marry me?" flys out of my mouth after sharing that I can't really consider other religions before I've thoroughly investigated my own. But no matter how many times I ask the question, no matter how many ways I ask, his answer is always the same. Yes. Yes. Yes. Words can't express how grateful I am that he continues to have such faith, in himself, in me, in us.
Even more earth-shattering than my personal spiritual journey is that we were able to enjoy drinks, steak, and ribs on Saturday night courtesy of Vibes Music, which shelled out EIGHTY DOLLARS for two stacks' worth of used CDs, the titles of which escape me now. I can, however, tell you what they *didn't* take: The Best of Piano by Candlelight Volume 2. Jamiroquai's Synkronized. Lenny Kravitz's Five. The Spice Girls' appropriately titled disc, Spice. Thus, I'll spend at least part of this week hunting down alternative sources through which my questionable musical taste can be savored by the masses.
Lastly, in regards to the SVH contest: forget about another quiz sure to stump friends and family alike, because I just took the damn thing again as "Frema" and only scored an 80. Apparently when I made the quiz last March I was still high on Spider-Man 2 and thought Toby Maguire had more sex appeal than Kiefer Sutherland; now I'm seriously wondering where my brains were at because who doesn't agree Kiefer Sutherland and his urgent scratchy voice are the hottest things ever to grace the Earth? If I had a list like this, he'd be number one, hands-down. If I had one. Which I don't, Luke. Just saying.
ANYWAY, the contest. Let's try this: Why don't you tell me about an important lesson you learned from Francine Pascal's endearing-yet-often-simplified-and-over-the-top series? Like, I just reread Forbidden Love, where Maria and Michael get engaged even though they're not supposed to be dating because of some Romeo and Juliet type feud their parents are involved in. They have to do this project for history class where they pretend to be married for two weeks and manage a budget and deal with problems facing their imaginary children. Michael learns that Maria doesn't want to be a housewife and Maria learns that Michael is comfortable using "belt therapy" to correct their son's juvenile delinquency. In the end, they break up, the families reunite, and Maria ends up dating Winston Egbert.
The lesson? Who cares? I still can't get over Sweet Valley High sanctioning the teaching of marriage and family values in history class. But you'll do a much better job than me. To the best answer, the spoils.