By Kyndall Mason and Simone Rede
In anticipation of our wedding, our friend and officiant, Paul Sayko, sent us a questionnaire in Google Docs to gather our thoughts on marriage. Being thousands of miles away, this was the most effective way for him to develop the ceremony and get to know us more intimately as a couple. This living document was one of many tools we used to plan and execute our big day. We used Skype to ask him to perform our ceremony and he totally cried when we asked him to marry us. The Google Doc lives on as we reflect on our responses to some of the questions he posed, one year later.
Paul: Are you announcing your elopement?
Kyndall and Simone (2014): NO!
Kyndall (2015): It seems silly, but at the time it felt really secret and special that we had actually already gotten married down at the courthouse in. The woman who married us, Judge Youlee Yim You, had an amazing staff and was the most accommodating to the new marriage law in Oregon. All the other judges were booked out for months because they only did marriages once a week or rarely did marriages at all). Judge You told her staff that she wanted to squeeze in any gay marriage she could. So, on June 5, 2014, we got married on a brief recess during a criminal trial that she was presiding over. She was sweet, caring and sincere. And our dear friends Ali and Landon, were so sweet to cut out of work to come join as our witnesses.
Simone (2015): I was thrilled about getting married in Oregon, but didn’t want any of our guests to feel like they weren’t witnessing the “real thing” in Washington. After all, we were asking people to travel thousands of miles to be there. I was relieved that no one asked to see or watch us sign any paperwork on our wedding day, especially our photographer…and my mom.
Paul: Why is it important to get married?
Simone (2014): It is important for me to get married to establish ourselves as a family — starting with us (and Quimble, of course) and continuing on with our children and our children’s children. To me, marriage forms the foundation of a family–I’m very traditional in this sense, I know. We are already committed to each other (for life!) but it is incredibly important for me, our community, and our future children to see us as married, both culturally and legally. I want to be able to take care of Kyndall, with no limitations, for as long as we live.
Kyndall (2014): I agree with Simone on this one. I would also like to add that the importance of a wedding (more than a marriage) is that your friends witness the commitment you are making to one another. I want to do this in front of my friends and family, as I expect them to hold me accountable to the vows I exchange and the promises I make.
Kyndall (2015): Part of me just wants to brag about what a great party the whole thing was. These answers came weeks before the actual event, and never in my life would I have thought a night would go by so smoothly, so seamlessly, and so fast. But when I think about why the actual wedding and ceremony was so important, it was because of the love that surrounded us (cheesy, I know). People traveled from literally all over the country to be there, and Orcas isn’t exactly an easy place to get to. I like to think it wasn’t just for a free dinner, and that still warms my heart. My love for my wife seemed to be reflected in each person I saw that night.
Simone (2015): Swoon! Not only am I proud to be married to Kyndall, I am proud that our marriage is recognized. I get a thrill out of calling Kyndall “my wife.” The term is significant for all the reasons I stated before. It makes me feel special and leaves no question about my sexual orientation. I don’t like to think of marriage as a club because historically, it has been just that. Being married isn’t a status, it’s an act–a thing you participate in. My love for Kyndall and desire to take care of her has only grown deeper since we got married. Those feelings were amplified by each of our guests and renewed every time I look back on that day.
Paul: What does marriage signify to you?
Simone (2014): Marriage signifies more than romantic love. It represents commitment, faithfulness, and a willingness to evolve and adapt to each other’s changing interests, needs, and desires. It is a promise to honor and recognize our relationship as a living thing unto itself, which requires the greatest care and respect.
Kyndall (2014): I agree with that. To me, it signifies that we are not just committed to each other, but to the relationship that without the two of us would not survive. It signifies that you have found the person you want to try to navigate the rest of the world with, tackling obstacles and challenges together and using both of our resources to make the world we choose to live in a better place.
Kyndall (2015): Reading my response here reminds me that the cynic lives in a cruel world, and sometimes I need to put that cynic to bed. I was clearly seeing the world through heart-shaped glasses and the more I think about it, the more I think, why not? Why not hope for the best, and strive towards even better? One year into my marriage, a lot has happened. Gay marriage became the law of the land. The race and class war reached a fever pitch. Simone and I started new jobs, meaning no more (tele)commuting to Pittsburgh. We added another fur child to our family–Templeton, a real hit with the friend group. And I find myself just as attracted to, and in love with, my wife as I ever did. So yeah, cynic, it’s time for a nap. Let’s do this!
Simone (2015): Despite all the changes that Kyndall mentioned, I think that life has actually slowed down for us. We started new jobs and are working more locally. Adopting Templeton has brought more balance and play to our daily routine…whether Quimby likes it or not. The cumulative effect of making incremental improvements to our home, sharing it with others (we hosted 10 out-of-town guests during the month of July), and enjoying our weekends without mundane wedding planning tasks getting in the way have reinforced our relationship and the love we have for our city and state. Celebrating the unions of our friends also reminds me of the commitment we have made to each other. Weddings feel different as a married couple.
Paul: Who have you invited and why?
Simone (2014): Ha, well, Kyndall and I have managed to form and maintain a wide array of friendships both independently and together. Our immediate families will both be present, as well as many of my childhood and family friends, with whom I am still closely connected, and people who play active roles in our day-to-day lives. Our guests include friends we met in college (Seattle and Bellingham, WA and Poughkeepsie, NY, respectively) in Portland, and in Pittsburgh. Everyone gathered has contributed in some way to our growth individually or as a couple.
Kyndall (2014): Simone has summed this up nicely. It seems that neither of us is quick to give up on friendships and we value what each person brings to our lives. The best/worst part of being friends with us is that we don’t give up so easily on anything. Relationships are what make life worth living to me, and I hold each and every one of them dearly and close to my heart. That being said if you hurt me, or my wife, I will cut you.
Kyndall (2015): I can’t say that I feel any different in this department. I have spent the last year reflecting pretty heavily on the meaning of relationships in my life, and how some have and haven’t changed over time and even since this wedding itself. Ultimately, I wouldn’t change a thing. but there are people who’ve come into our lives, and those who have left, and yet my feelings about friendships and remains the same, even the cut you part. But I don’t recall ever actually having to cut someone.
Simone (2015): Relationships are dynamic and I will probably continue to spend my life learning this lesson. In the last year, we’ve gained friends through dragon boat racing and new jobs, and seen less of others who’ve moved away or have taken up other interests. At my age, and in this place, people tend to come and go, but you can always follow them on Instagram. Seriously, though, I have such appreciation for the people that came to support and celebrate with us on Orcas Island and have managed to see many of them in Portland and New York, at my college reunion. We will be attending our friends’ wedding in Pittsburgh next month and can’t wait to catch up with the old crew!
Paul: Anything you want me to elaborate on about you, your relationship, a story?
Simone (2014): I think it would be funny to point out our strengths/differences. I like to plan, Kyndall likes to execute. I like to decorate, she likes to tinker. Together, we throw the best parties and make quite the love nest. I like to cook, Kyndall likes to clean…right, Kyndall? We once said that if we were on the Oregon Trail, my job would be beadwork (I suppose I envisioned myself as a Native American) and hers would be hunting. A recent online quiz confirmed that if we lived in medieval times, I would spend my days walking about the royal gardens and Kyndall would be sweating at the stable–you get the idea. Kyndall and I are bound by our passion for social justice, self-expression, and snacks!
Kyndall (2014): So true, although, when I took the medieval test I was actually a hunter, not just a stable boy. But yes, Simone would do beadwork on the trail, which I would then trade for things like furs, or weapons. Simone wouldn’t be a native, she would simply pick up the art by hanging out on the trail, because we would be in a small party of travelers that mostly drink and have a good time. Being non-threatening to the natives, we would be invited to feast and party, hence, Simone being able to pick up beadwork. Anyhoo, Simone and I are very different, but are working towards the same goals: a better place to live, a more efficient government, compassionate society, the abilities for everyone to live and be as they are without fear of ridicule or harassment.
Simone (2014): You’re right, Kyndall. You were the hunter and I was actually the tailor (based on the fact I like to create beautiful things and am not afraid of hard work!).
Kyndall (2015): I read stuff like this and I wonder how in the world I can write about being the “fur trader” in a roving band of misfits, partying with natives and efficient government, and social justice in the same paragraph. Reflecting a year later on this…I feel like people might just think I’m off.
Simone (2015): I am endlessly entertained by creating metaphors to describe our differences. Perhaps I welcome the challenge because we are both women and I have a wild imagination. I recently discovered a hidden talent for naming people’s gender expressions. Kyndall is an open-faced sandwich and I am a LeCreuset pot, according to our friend Jake. Stew on that!
Kyndall and Simone met at a training to counsel teens in crisis and have been committed to each other for eight years. Shortly after a federal judge struck down Oregon’s gay marriage ban, they eloped at Multnomah County Courthouse during their lunch break on June 5, 2014. They wed August 9, 2014 at the Oddfellows Hall in Eastsound, WA on beautiful Orcas Island, in the company of 100 friends and family. They reside in the Montavilla neighborhood of Northeast Portland with their two fur children.
Editor’s note: What can I say about my beautiful, brilliant daughter and her beautiful, brilliant wife? Only that I am inspired by the depth of their love for an commitment to each other. And, I will always treasure memories of their magical island wedding.
Tomorrow: Living the ‘Portlandia’ life by Eric Wilcox