There was no parking on Fayetteville Street, so we parked a block over. The meter said it had another half hour to go. A lucky break, if we could finish our business at the county office in time. As we speed-walked back up to Fayetteville Street, we passed a meter man. We giggled, feeling like we were getting away with something. Or maybe we were just feeling a little giddy.
The Register of Deeds is located in some tall building named after a bank, right on the square where they have summer concerts. We took a revolving door to get in. They always make me nervous, but we got in without incident.
On the third floor, we walked up to a man behind a desk and announced that we would like to get married. He asked if we had filled out the forms yet. I responded with a blank look. We had our photo IDs, proof of social security number, and $60 cash, but I hadn't filled out any forms. He pointed to the wall behind us, where a row of computers waited. We filled in the web form in record time, conscious of the meter counting down.
When we finished, another man waved us forward. He looked at his monitor and correctly identified us as Joshua and Sandra, who would like to get married. He probably doles out dozens of marriage licenses every week, and he's got the process memorized. We told him about our time limit, and he promised to hurry. This guy, who probably never imagined himself working at a county office for a living, at least peppered what he had to say with jokes and quips. I don't remember his name, but That Guy At the Wake County Register of Deeds makes visiting local government offices almost fun.
After ten minutes of rapid-fire information and jokes, he asked for our $60 cash and then handed me an envelope, saying "Congratulations, you are now licensed to marry." We have to have the papers inside signed by a officiant and two witnesses within 60 days, good for anywhere in the state of North Carolina. Government is weird. You have to get a license to marry someone, like you need a permit to transport six cases of wine or burn a bunch of crap in your yard. Or at least, you have to get a license to enjoy the government benefits of marriage, like automatic inheritance, hospital visitation, tax benefits, more that I don't even know about. That's a lot of perks for less than a half hour of time and $60. We could've saved our money and our afternoon by just having the ceremony and to heck with whether the government thinks we're married. But this way, Josh can have health insurance for the first time in eight years. If we had been a same-sex couple, this would've been the step where we would have been thwarted, no matter how many photo IDs or proof of social security. But we sailed on through.
We giggled all the way back downstairs and made out a little bit in the elevator. We successfully navigated the revolving doors again; maybe that's the actual test you have to pass to get your license to marry. We got back to the car with time to spare.