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Groundhog Love

Nine years ago today, my love and I eloped at a courthouse. We didn't choose Groundhog Day on purpose; we had already set a wedding date for the spring of the next year, but I started to get a toothache and didn't have health insurance, as I could only work part-time while taking grad school classes. My fiancee chivalrously offered his dental policy, which we needed a marriage certificate to obtain for me, so we booked an appointment at the earliest possible time, a Tuesday afternoon which just so happened to be Groundhog Day--amazingly, the holiday that shares the same name as the one and only rom-com that my husband enjoys.

We've been through so much over the past nine years, keeping the romance alive through a balance of romantic tradition and trying new things. This year, we're having some fun with our personal style--I'm pruning my closet and cosmetics drawers and haven't been buying any new fashion items, forcing myself to get creative with nothing but hand-me-downs, swaps, and gifts. DaddyMan has grown out some impressive, fancy man-locks. We've learned how to keep things fresh and fun between us through several major life changes, hardships, and adventures, pausing to reflect on our shared journey each fateful Groundhog Day.

Although the timing of our marriage was determined by a toothache (and my love's practical sense of romance), the poetry of an early February anniversary delights me. The second day of February falls just after Imbolc, an ancient Celtic spring fertility festival, and directly on the date of Candle-mas, a holiday celebrated widely by Christians in centuries past, marking the presentation of Jesus at the Temple after Mary recovered from giving birth. It is no coincidence that a celebration of new life and "coming out" falls upon this day. The ancient origins of Groundhog Day extend to Germanic weather divination rites involving badgers and bears rousing from hibernation. Since ancient times, February 1 has been a day of hope in a time of change and uncertainty. And, of course, it came right before the lusty revelries of the Lupercalia. Today, thanks to the genius of the late, great Harold Ramis, Groundhog Day has taken on new themes of rebirth, personal growth, and romantic love. It's a great day to think about what it means to fall in love, and how the same two people can fall in love with each other in different ways, over and over again.

Our oldest tradition started moments after our marriage ceremony, when we went out for tacos with our wedding witness, high school bestie Esperanza. While we celebrate our May wedding anniversary in the way most couples do, our February 1 elopement anniversary remains our "tacoversary," acknowledged quietly each year with our city's finest Mexican fare, often enjoyed at home.

Our fifth annual "tacoversary" fell shortly after the birth of our daughter, Nux Gallica. A huge winter storm snowed us in, so we couldn't go out for tacos--but fortunately, that was during the time we had that homeless childhood buddy of my husband's living with us, who had learned how to make devastatingly wonderful tacos in the back kitchens of restaurants in Arizona. Hosting this old pal did came with its benefits but also added to the stresses of new parenthood.

Oh, those new parenthood challenges. The birth of our child came like a cannon blast through our life. 

You know... like a happy, Pinkie Pie party cannon. I am glad that we waited five years to transform our couple into a family of three, and I am also grateful that our daughter did not come any later. She is the greatest light of our lives and the new fulcrum of our existence. Her powerful little presence has taught us that while a marriage certificate matters--and a wedding, in which family and friends sanction a union, does too--creating a child welds two people together in a way that no legal contract or social convention can approach. 

Also, this was the one time in my life when I grew giant boobs--the first time ever that I actually needed to wear a bra for support when not even exercising--and my husband was not allowed to touch them, like, ever. My body was no longer his or mine either, but the property of our voracious progeny, and we found it necessary to develop many new ways of being intimate, physically and emotionally. It was hard for a while there.

Behold the weary bags under our eyes the following year, when we attempted to eat tacos in a restaurant while chasing a gleeful jumping bean around tables and through chair legs.

The year after that, we managed no celebration at all, at home or otherwise. I think maybe I was unconscious from exhaustion. The only date that happened that month involved DaddyMan and our luchador-wielding princess, who attended our township's Daddy-Daughter Dance.

We did much better the next year, preceding our taco takeout with a belly dance hafla. 

Nux learned some of the very dance moves that helped facilitate my labor in giving birth to her, and she entertained us with a variety of joyful noises in the drum circle.

This year, we have another adult buddy enlivening our household--but this time it's our high school bestie, elopement witness, and formal maid of honor Esperanza, who is in the process of re-settling in the frigid North after a seven-year sojourn in Mexico. Esperanza also makes some great tacos. Here she is helping DaddyMan, uh, grind some pork.

Every Groundhog Day tacoversary, we relive certain parts of our relationship that cycle through again and again, and they are always combined with a little something new.

Nux Gallica is four years old now, and she leaves her marks (and stamps and stickers) all over our homes and bodies and hearts. Our marriage, our home, and our souls have expanded with the growth of our family and our selves as different parts of our life together, each year, are torn apart and reborn again in new forms.

If Groundhog Day, as reframed by Harold Ramis, has evolved into a pan-spiritual metaphor of  reincarnation, then I hope to linger in this cycle of samsara with my love for many, many more Februaries to come--sunny and cloudy, through snow and through slush.

My love always to DaddyMan and little Nux!


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