At any rate, the two of us had been dating for about six months when it became glaringly obvious that our relationship was much more than just a series of meaningless flings. In other words: Without actually intending to, we had fallen in love with each other. And that was when things got even more interesting than they already were.
At first, we made the same dumb jokes every young couple in love likes to pretend they came up with: We laughed about how funny it would be to get married, just as an excuse to score free gifts. To us, this was considerably funnier than it might be to most people, because Carrie Ann - my girlfriend - doesn't believe in the institution of marriage any more than I do. And incidentally, neither one of us intends to have children.
One night a few months back, neither one of us could seem to fall asleep, so we appeased ourselves by making ice cream sundaes and watching bad cable. We ended up stumbling upon some goofball who was speaking about the myriad joys of his "Life Partnership" - he was talking about his relationship - and because we were in a particularly goofy mood and had the giggles, we both immediately broke out into howls of laughter.
Carrie Ann and I are big fans of in-jokes, so after that night, we naturally began referring to each other as "life partners”. We even dreamt up the idea of organizing a "Life Partner Ceremony". This was an idea we found especially hilarious. (We tend to take our in-jokes a little too far - especially the bad ones.) At any rate, the concept behind the Life Partner Ceremony was this: If Carrie Ann and I ever decided to spend the remainder of our lives together, we wouldn't actually have to go through with the process of becoming legally wed.
Instead, we would simply gather together our families and best friends in a small ceremony, and then proclaim to them our intention to live together – forever - in cohabiting bliss. As life partners, of course. We were already fantasizing about the toaster ovens, and the gift registries at Crate & Barrel, and Pottery Barn, and Pier One...
And then over time, the jokes about getting "fake married”, as we called it, and about living together forever, started to become less and less funny. Eventually we decided it might actually be, you know... nice to make a public commitment to each other, and to share that moment with our families and close friends. And after all, by that point we had both managed to admit to each other our respective desires to stay together forever.
And yet neither Carrie Ann's opinion about traditional marriage, nor mine, had changed one bit: We still weren't interested. Nor were we interested in having a ceremony in a church, or on a beach, and we sure as hell weren't going to lay out $10,000 for a pile of cheap party favors, a photographer, and a big cake.
And that was when it hit us: Maybe we actually were on the road to inventing something special, after all. I can't remember which one of us suggested it first, but after talking about it and joking about it for months, we eventually just shrugged our shoulders, and decided to jump in, feet first.