As the limo turned right onto the cobblestone street in downtown, New Bedford a peculiar silence came over everyone. I could feel the warm tear drop trickle down my cheek. My heart began to beat faster and faster. The sound echoed to my ears sounding like a race track. The limo pulled up in front of the church I took a deep breath. I could not remember if I had been breathing the whole time or not. It was such a warm day in late June; my dress was very full and heavy. I had to remind myself to keep breathing to keep from passing out. The door to the limo began to open. My bridesmaids gasped and began to cry out “Here we go, Mrs. Peixoto”. Mrs. Peixoto? I wasn’t married yet. I nervously chuckled back at them. They exited the limo, while I sat anxious, nervously contemplating my decision which came so sudden.
“I need to go to Brazil.” He stated only four months earlier.
I was devastated. In such a short period of time of dating he had helped me change so many aspects of myself. I was no longer a silly teenager who partied and sadly did illegal drugs. I loved him so much and I knew he felt the same for me. Here he was telling me he could no longer stay in the United States because he was only on a tourist visa.
“What if I make you stay and we get married” I said only half joking. We had only dated for about two and a half months. I was waiting for the “No way, are you crazy” or “we are too young”, but those words never came. Instead we gazed into each otherâ€™s eyes and he said “Eu te amo!” That night we picked out our wedding date using a deck of cards.
Exiting the limo in my beautiful off the shoulder wedding gown with full skirt, scalloped lace trim, hand sewn beads, and a Spanish mantilla veil, I looked up at the Seaman’s Bethel. I was only nineteen. Here I was marrying a man who I loved more than any person could love another. I knew at that moment my life would change forever. Our courtship was not typical. We didn’t communicate in the same language and we were culturally different. May of our friends and family questioned the motives of our marraige , but our love was our own.
I entered the old historical church and began to ascend the stairs on the right. The floors were made of solid wood and every step could be heard. There were names of deceased fishermen lining the walls of the church in memoriam, and paintings of priests of the past. You could hear the organist playing many hymns, like “The Lord Is My Shepard”, entertaining the guests who have begun to arrive. When I reached the landing I was desperately attempting to make eye contact with the man I was to marry. I wanted his reassurance that everything was as it was supposed to be. The flower girl began to become impatient and playful jumping up and down and singing “Ring around the Rosie”. The priest gave the signal to enter into formation. I looked up for an instant and noticed a young man standing in front of the replica bow of a ship, smiling nervously with his hands folded in front waiting. He was waiting for me. Handsome, familiar and reassuring.
I remembered the first time I had ever seen him as he was filling out an application for work at the local pizzeria. He was the most handsome man I had ever seen. He had dark thick hair, seductive brown eyes, and a Brazilian skin tone, but he could not speak English. I wanted to know about him that first day but I could barely speak. He was so intriguing. I felt as if he was pulling me in. It wasn’t long after our first meeting that we began our attempts at communicating. There were many smiles and hand gestures, even body language that helped our lack of communication. I looked forward to being by his side at work.
The organist began to play “Ave Maria” and the bridesmaids began to walk one by one down the aisle. I entered past the organist and I could see my mother and step father standing in front of my future husband. I smiled contently knowing my life was moving on. My younger brother Ryan was giving me away. He was only fourteen at the time, and looked like such a young man. My brother sobbed uncontrollably. We both knew that things would be very different from this day forward. I was no longer coming home. I had my own life now. My brother was now helping me into a new life while he was stuck in my old. It took many years later before we could heal and understand the damage that was between us. My brother giving my hand unto my husbands is a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.
The priest began “We are gathered here today to celebrate the love of Erin and Vinicius in Holy Matrimony”. I could not stop looking into my husband’s eyes. He was such an amazing man. He never took advantage of me nor disrespected me. He truly cared and loved me for who I was. Early in our dating he had given me an ultimatum. It was either going to be him or my drug addicted past. He saw something inside me that at that time I could not have seen. H helped me to begin to care about myself again, to see that there was so much more to life than what I had been given. My life would be ok, but i had to take the steps to get there.
I began to think about the vows we were reciting. The priest asked Vinicius to repeat after him “I Vinicius take you Erin”.
My mind began to remember an incident where our limited ability to communicate made for quite a scene at our local Friendly’s restaurant. My dear soon-to-be husband could not read the menu and I had a hard time speaking Portuguese.
He asked me in his broken English accent, “You eat what?”
“Turkey Club Super melt” I replied.
“What is turkey?” he responded.
I was speechless. I did not know how to explain, so I went with the more obvious “It’s like a chicken, but a turkey.”
He looked more confused. I thought a demonstration would surely get him to recognize the visible traits of a turkey, so I bent one arm up like a wing, put my wiggly fingers under my chin, and said “GOBBLE, GOBBLE.” The waitress, now very entertained began laughing uncontrollably, and my poor soon to be husband still looked uneasy and still very confused.
Cautiously he asked “Peru?”
Immediately I recognized the word from high school Spanish, yelled “YES!”, and began to laugh.
He became very serious suddenly and asked, “What is Gobble Gobble?”
I shrugged my shoulders and said “Turkey talk”.
He started to laugh hysterically and say, “Turkey no GOBBLE GOBBLE, Turkey says “GLUGLUGLU”.
We both we laughing so hard we were crying. Even our turkeys would have a hard time communicating due to a language barrier.
As my husband finished “till death do us part”, everyone clapped, congratulating him on his language skills after such a short period. He amazed me. He never faltered, and pushed through even when it was hard for him. He did this all for me, and I was the luckiest girl in the world. The priest was concluding the services with a tradition or symbol that knows no language, culture, or ethnicity. “You may now kiss the bride” is the end of the ceremony but only the beginning of a lifetime together. We were now Mr. and Mrs. Peixoto and it was over just as fast as it began.
Love is a universal language. Just because you do not speak, the same language does not mean they are not your soul mate. If it is meant to be, it will be. There are many cultural differences my husband and I had to overcome, look past, and adapt but we did it together. We have had to have open minds, open hearts and love. Do not let naysayers say it will not last, because sometimes all it takes is a chance. Seven years have passed and I still get the same feelings for him I did the first time I saw him. He is now the father of my children, my husband, my protector, my encourager, and my best friend.