Our initial courtship involved a lot of dancing. We both love to dance. She's good enough at it to make me look good and puts up with my enthusiasm. Every night for two months, when we first met, we danced till late at night closing down club after club. Then we talked till dawn. I can't even rememeber what we talked about. It didn't really matter -- we just wanted to be close.
Considering what has happened and the hours we kept, you may be surprised to learn that, during that time, we did nothing more sexual than kiss on the cheek and occasionally crash together fully clothed (OK, there was some dirty dancing -- but that was in public and we both thought that we were getting away with something that the other was not interested in).
There were some spectacular crashes. Once we woke together in a hammock in front of a beach resort (we weren't staying there). Another time we took out Ubi to watch the sunrise, then anchored off a secluded beach on a deserted island. This involved some delicate maneuvers through reefs in the middle of the night. We fell asleep in each others arms to be woken hours later by friends that wanted to party.
Although I was very emotionally and physically attracted from the beginning, I thought that someone as wonderful and pure as Alex would not be interested in me and considered myself lucky to just spend time with her. I had well-deserved playboy reputation. So, while emotions built, I did not attempt to push my "luck." We were engaged before I learned Alex had felt the same attraction towards me all that time as well.
The "real" part of our relationship started with a long weekend sailing on my boat in the British Virgin Islands. On the third day of the trip we decided to pretend to be honeymooners to get free drinks from tourists (yes, it turned out to be prophetic -- but remember, at this time, we had still done no more than kiss on the cheek and each of us thought the other only wanted to be friends). We were aboard the William Thorton a schooner converted to a restaurant anchored off Norman Island.
To this day neither of us knows exactly what happened when we get back to the boat but someone kissed someone (October 13th). On the night of our first kiss Alex agreed to move in with me on the boat. Some things changed right away, although we still love to dance, we now try to get in before dawn. We want to save energy for other things.
To this day, we continue to joyfully learn how incredibly compatible we are. By the way, the best address to reach us at is now:
Alex & Charlie Balch
North Star Village
St. Thomas, VI 00802
V/F (340) 774-2975
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
Our family page has connections to both our home pages: http://Balch.org
At the end of our first week of living together, after a wonderful day sailing with friends, on October 21, Alex and I were sitting alone in the cockpit under the Caribbean moon and stars, staring into each other's eyes, and discussing her upcoming three-month solo backpacking trip to Western Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand.
I was overcome with the love we were feeling and asked her if, when she got back (I'd never get in the way of a dream), she would marry me. She asked me to repeat the question twice. Gulp. I held my ground ever though I was scared to death that I had just scared her away. Instead of moving out (which I was beginning to expect) when Alex really believed that I had asked her to marry her, she said yes!
I immediately got on my knees and asked her again "right." That time she didn't have me repeat the question before she said yes. I asked her again in the morning when I was sure we were both completely sober. She said yes again. We sailed to town in the morning and selected a ring. It has three small diamonds and, like Alex, is very elegant. We spend a lot of time looking at it and smiling.
Though at the time we met neither of us had ever been married before, in less than a year after we first met, we had three weddings. Symbols and ceremony are important. We also had very different ideas about what we wanted our marriage to be like. The best compromise was to do it all. Besides, if it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.
Our first marriage, our "personal ceremony" was on the first day of Spring (March 20th 1997). It was more of a hand fasting ceremony and not legal as we had no paperwork or witnesses. We married each other on a deserted beach under the stars (and comet Hale-Bopp) on blanket with a nice bottle of champagne. We exchanged spontaneous words of love, faith and commitment.
While we know that it is important to share the joy and example of our love with others, the quiet and personal nature of our first wedding is very important to us. We often talk about what our relationship means to us. But, with this ceremony, we focused on our commitment to each other. Our other weddings were large community and family affairs which are also important.
In addition to words, we exchanged rings. Neither of us cares much for jewelry but we both felt that it was important to wear a ring. My wedding ring is my family crest. It was originally my grandfather's ring and was my graduation gift for my first degree (psychophysiology). We feel that it is very appropriate to demonstrate our commitment with the family symbol. We selected Alex's wedding ring together. It is very elegant and it nicely compliments her engagement ring.
We find that three is a repeating theme in our marriage. The engagement ring has three stones and the wedding band has nine. Nine is three filled (three times three), and nine plus three is one and two which equal three again. We are each one and our union creates a new being that is three. Whew, for a while we thought that three meant a child which is not in the immediate or intermediate plans. Perhaps there is a child in our long term plans. We agreed to discuss the subject of children again on tenth anniversary.
A slightly amusing ending to the evening of our first marriage occurred when our jeep got stuck in the sand as we tried to leave. When I switched to four wheel drive the linkage got jammed and I had to spend a half hour of wedding night rebuilding it. My family is known for their practical jokes on wedding nights. They could not have done better.
Our second ceremony was also be a bit out of the ordinary. In my capacity as a minister of the Universal Life Church, I have performed a number of wedding ceremonies (my Wedding Packet). We are both registered as ministers with the Virgin Islands court. For our "Community Wedding" on May 4th, 1997 we wrote a unique and wonderful ceremony where we marry each other. We were married on our boat with a number of other boats rafted up with us (pictures). At this, our Community Wedding, there were about a hundred boats rafted up and about 500 persons in attendance. The ceremony was potluck and we declined gifts as we feel that marriage should not have a commercial focus.
The ceremony went very well. Our only mistake was in getting the name order wrong for the exchange of rings. This was taken in good humor.
Here is a copy of the invitation.
Alex and Charlie
the honor of your presence
to share our happiness
as we join our hearts in
Sunday, the fourth of May
at half after two
aboard the vessel Ubi Libertas
whilst anchored at Buck.
Potluck Reception & Raft-Up
Dress is very casual.
Your presence is our present .
The final ceremony was a traditional Lutheran church ceremony on August 16th, 1997 with all the fixings in Alex's home town, Marietta Georgia. The reception was in a referbished old mill. Our song is A Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen.
Her quick vital stats are:
Smart Smart Smart
Beautiful Inside and out
Born November 27, 1972
Mother: First Generation Danish Immigrant
Father: First Generation German Immigrant
My stats are pretty much the same except that I was born July 23, 1961, you could knock off one of those three smarts, I'm not so beautiful, and I have a Master Ships Captain's License, a BS in PsychoPhysiology, a MEd and an MBA. My mother's very old South and my father's even got an even longer Northern ancestory.
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