SARA LONG
Marriage to the Redwoods
2016
oil on paper
8" x 6"
Marriage to the Redwoods

In September, 2016, I drove down to Humboldt County to visit family. While there I went to my favorite antique store, Daisy Drygoods. There was this beautiful Edwardian wedding dress on a mannequin. The shop girl convinced me to try it on saying many past women gave it a whirl but it didn't work on them. It fit perfect. I pranced and took pictures and got oohs and awes of me in the dress. It felt so special, fun, and sacred playing dress up. "You fill it out beautifully!" "Thanks, it's all the bagels I eat!" I felt immediate guilt for spending $200 on it, on her.

Later that day I was painting in the forest behind my mom's house. The light was coming through the Redwoods. I remembered when I was little I would disappear into the woods every morning. My first self-imposed morning routine. I had a stump I would stand on and make daily announcements to the trees, shrubs, rocks, bugs, fallen branches, critters. They were my audience for a play. We would talk about everything; the weather, six year old girl feelings, my Doberman Heidi, my soon to come baby brother, the inflated swimming pool I begged for. My everyday dramas.

While I was painting I had this urge to reconnect to her, the six year old. Now as a woman, over a quarter century later, I slipped into my wedding dress and proceeded to marry the Redwoods. The audience was proud to see me all grown up, having the same drum-beat after all these years. I propped my camera in the branches and videotaped (our witness) the ceremony. I hugged the Redwoods and felt their fallen needles. Everything I wanted and needed was right here. We hugged and kissed and the huge trees held me. Their spongy bark was soft and felt so good when we touched. My husband, my wife.

I went inside and changed back into my paint clothes and continued to work. I felt like a rebel, teenagers sneaking away to Vegas to get hitched. It made me feel full and lonely, two feelings constantly swirling around my insides. But I guess no marriage is perfect.