When you're in Vegas, seven is the luckiest number. Seven is the jackpot. Seven is what you pray for at slot machines with empty pockets. 7 and 7 is the drink you order before you pull the lever, surrounded by 1.lust and 2.gluttony, 3. greed and 4. sloth, 5. wrath, 6. envy and 7.pride. Seven is for winners. Seven is for sinners. This should be a country western song.
Every night we go to bed at midnight. It used to be later but then we had one kid and two kids and four kids and now we go to bed at midnight. It should be earlier but the babies don't go down until 11:00 so the last hour of the day belongs to us: our hour. An hour we typically spend picking our noses and holding our noses because it smells like farts in here.
"Yes it was."
"It was the dog."
"It was you."
"It was the baby."
"It was you."
"It was the other baby."
I was engaged once but it wasn't to him. It was ten years ago and I was twenty and the proposal happened at the tippy-top of a hill in San Sebastian, Spain, and it was romantic. So romantic we broke up a few months later. And then I got married to someone else.
We got married alone. Our parents weren't invited. Our friends weren't invited. Just the receptionist at the chapel with the grey beehive who wasn't even real. We weren't ready for real so everything was cardboard, including the flowers we posed in front of after he kissed the bride. We were running from real. We ran to Vegas and we ran home, and on May 23rd we ran to the hospital and into the glass. January 22nd was the day we became legally wed by the state of Nevada but May 23rd was the day we made our vows. The child we held between us was as beautiful as we'd ever be together. He was our hope and the ring around our hearts.
When you get married it's like reciting the pledge of allegiance and how the teachers try to explain what it all means but you don't care. You say it because you have to. Because you are born with its words in your mouth. And to the republic for which it stands, to have and to hold from this day forward, one nation, under god, till death do us part, I do.
It took four years for me to call him husband. Four years of undoing forced vows in my head, replacing "till death do us part" with a blank line and an ellipsis. We are here today. And most likely tomorrow. But death is too tall a fence to wrap around our perimeter so we place stakes in the land instead. Otherwise we would be fixated on the fence. We spent our first three years of marriage fixated on the fence.
Everybody bet against us. Sevens are hard to come by, they said. It can take years of gambling to get there. Years of pulling levers with a drink in one hand. Everybody bet against us including me and Hal, and we all lost. Fuck yeah we did. We all lost.
Weddings are as beautiful as marriage ever looks on the outside, with its decorative words and couture gowns and floral displays, with its first dances and exchange of precious metals. That is, until your perception of beauty changes. Until you wake up one day and realize you're both on the same team, even when you play against each other in scrimmages. Even though sometimes I drop the ball and he misses the kick and we spend the night under the same cloak of silence, watching instant replays in our children's eyes.
"It smells like farts in here."
"It was me."
"And that's why I love you."
Seven years ago, we repeated words we didn't hear in a place we didn't know with an audience of strangers. I don't have a dress to pass down to my daughters. Or a wedding album. We never picked a song. All we had was the invisible incline. And every year, we get to turn around and look down.
Getting pregnant was the stupidest thing we ever did. Getting pregnant was the smartest thing we ever did. Our wedding meant nothing. We laughed through the ceremony. We posed in front of a bouquet of fake flowers. We lost the bet.
We lost the bet and won everything.