Last November, I wrote about my friend Kiley Thompson who met a man from Glasgow, Scotland and got engaged. Their marriage was set for April, so when I met with her again recently, she was a newlywed. I asked to be brought up to date.
“We got married in St. Andrews. It’s a beach town and a college town, a bit like a combination of Blacksburg and Myrtle Beach. Except it’s on the North Sea. Nobody goes in the ocean; it’s too cold. It’s like ice water. It’s gorgeous and beautiful, but it’s not the type of beach we’re used to. It’s Scotland!”
She described at length the planning process, arranging the wedding, getting an entourage of seven friends and family members there, and all the various logistical challenges of getting married in another country. She brought her dress, which she’d ordered from a tailor in Latvia, as carry-on luggage on the plane. The ceremony was in a university building at St. Andrews College, built in the 1700s.
Just getting the license was a major challenge. She said, “If you go to the courthouse here (in the states), they ask if you’re both alive, both over 18 and unmarried, and they give you a license. My marriage application in Scotland was 43 pages. I had to submit my divorce papers, my birth certificate, my parents’ names, my pay stubs. They’re concerned about scam marriages, people marrying for healthcare. Healthcare is free there.”
Finally, they tied the knot. The bride wore her new Latvian made wedding dress. The groom wore a kilt. It was a beautiful, perfect event, the happy couple surrounded by friends and family. They broadcast it live on the Internet for distant friends and the world to see.
Kiley got her family back on airplanes to the States. She and Mark stayed a few more days in Scotland to rest and sightsee. Then they flew to Florida for their honeymoon.
“Scotland, the whole country is smaller than Virginia. So I’d gotten to see most of it. But for Mark, the USA was a huge place to discover. I wanted to honeymoon in some place warm after days of being cold in Scotland. We loved learning about the cultural differences.
“We went to Cocoa Beach and the Kennedy Space Center, as he’s always been enthralled with the space program and the space shuttle. He was geeking out. We got married in a beach town in Scotland, but we were honeymooning on a beach town in Florida. It was 85-degrees. He’s a red-head, one big freckle. He’s fish-belly white, blue-white, like a boiled chicken. He’s Scottish! There are places on him that have never seen the sun.
“I grew up swimming the ocean. I bounced over the waves. He said, like ‘Nope! We don’t swim like that.’ He learned to swim in pools; he’d never swum in the ocean. He thought the waves were gigantic. They weren’t gigantic. He said, ‘I’m not ready for this.’ So he watched while I swam. He paced the sand watching me. He had to buy shorts. He didn’t own any. I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because I’m over the age of eight.’ He has kilts but not shorts!
“There was a heat wave in Orlando, around 95-degrees. We put sunscreen on him every three hours. It was as far south in the world as he’d ever been.”
So now Kiley and Mark are married, settling into blissful married life. Except he lives in Glasgow and she lives in Blacksburg. And likely she’ll remain in Blacksburg for six years until her youngest child finishes high school. It’s an odd situation, but they’re determined to make it work. “This is our normal. We’ve been married before. We’re trying to figure out how to be married when not living together. We’re lucky that we make nice money and can afford to travel. I can work remotely. So he’ll come here and I’ll go there.”
I asked what she knew now about him that surprised her. She said, “We talk constantly, being apart. We communicate at a different level than most married couples. He’s more romantic and emotional than I am. He’s more demonstrative than American men. I think it’s cultural. He talks about how he feels, at all levels. Fears. Hopes. Dreams. Scots are passionate people. They’re zero or 100. He’s very binary and I’m shades of grey. American women are taught not to expect that kind of openness.
“A woman’s sense of romance dies after awhile. I’m practical. Single mom. Paying the bills. There’s not a lot of time for a dream romance. And now I have that again. I didn’t expect it. I wasn’t looking for it. I’m still trying to process it. It’s amazing; it’s nice.”
Michael Abraham is a businessman and author. He was raised in Christiansburg and lives in Blacksburg.