I was still folding wee paper packages, the morning of the wedding. Inside were the seeds for a sunflower garden, and a duet of recipes typed in tiny fonts – one German and the other Scottish. These were presents for the guests, held in a basket like Red Riding Hood’s — the Rotkäppchen from those Grimms’ tales — and there had to be enough for everyone, even if it was a bit of a last minute thing, preparing them all. So it was. It took my mind off the nerves.
I had always told anyone who would listen — usually my Mum — that marriage was not for me, that I would never be some man’s wife and iron his shirts and throw away my own name and wear that white dress. Mum had just smiled and probably known a lot more about me than I had myself. And anyway, I had been half-way right. I would never be any man’s wife. But marriage was still for me, all the same, and here it was: my wedding day. The perfect day to be folding pink tissue paper into squares sealed with heart-shaped stickers, wearing a green Bavarian dress and rehearsing an impossible speech in my head.
Kind of marriage. When we got married in 2007, it was an almost-marriage. Not quite marriage. A marriage that couldn’t fully be called marriage in case it let us get ideas beyond our station and think ourselves normal. But those were arguments for another day. We would do things our own way, just as we wanted. You looked perfect in your kilt — the ideal outfit for a beautiful, sporty German; and I scrubbed up pretty well in my dirndl — not too bad for my capacious Scottish bosom. We had Bach and bagpipes and a barbecue in the back garden and bugger the rain, for it only brought out the brightest, shiniest rainbow.
That day was so full of love. Our families and our friends, the people who had made the effort to get there and share with us, the people who had always been there for us, the ones who are gone now but live on through the photos. I held my wee bunch of white roses in my Granda’s old bunnet and you wore your Omi’s brooch. The woman in the registry office even laughed at our scripted Eurovision jokes and I managed not to cry.
Funny to think back to the night we met, that all of this was to follow, that all of this was waiting for us, and everything else besides. Those shiny eyes across that beery table, beacons to lead me back home, as it turned out; blinking and smiling and seeing right through me, right inside me. There was never any question, of course. The path was already there and those shiny eyes just illuminated the way.
So, the morning of our wedding day, with all the noise and the dancing and the singing and the drinking to come, I sat with a bundle of seeds and papers and stickers and nerves, well beyond sleep and thinking back to the wee girl telling her mum she’d never marry. And then the older girl who’d never felt right with a boyfriend. And then the young woman who dared to know why. And then the woman who’d found out that love really was hers to have, too.
“I’m doing this for all of us!” I said, a quiet lump building in my throat.
“What’s that?” you said, coming through the door, rubbing those beacon eyes awake.
It took another seven and a half years before we were officially allowed to be called married. And still nothing is set in stone; we know how brittle these rights in law can be and have to trust to love. Brexit won’t break us, even if we have to leave our home, but Germany won’t let us be married yet, either. We just keep walking, don’t we? Just keep those eyes open and light the way. All these days we have shared will make us stronger.
Those days like our wedding day, when you sat down beside me on the living room floor, in the quiet before the loud, and took those papers to fold into parcels. We filled the basket together.
‘Folding Paper’ is a short story about Kirsty Venters Mark’s wedding day. On her wedding day morning, she was indeed, folding paper into wee parcels as favours for guests, and she was helped (eventually) by her about-to-be wife in the filling of the basket. As things stand right now, the couple do not know what is going to happen with regards to matters of nationality and leave to remain in the country for EU citizens. Kirsty writes, “It is an unnerving time, so thinking of happy moments feels all the more important, especially those happy moments connected to our bi-national wedding day.”
Kirsty Venters Marks was born in Ireland, but grew up in Edinburgh — where she always enjoyed telling the odd story. After years spent in London, making music and writing poems on to walls, she returned to Scotland, via Germany, where her writing found her again. Her many projects include an interactive book for young adults, Kari’s Map, an LGBT-themed collection of Not Quite Fairy Tales and a daring tale of a timid tyrannosaurus and its rather more adventurous pet. To see more of Kirsty’s work, click here.