After nine and a half years of committed, monogamous bliss and servitude, guess who finally got hitched? After eight years of living abroad, guess who finally took care of some loose ends on a recent trip back to New York and finally got married? That’s right. Me. Us. We. Just don’t call it gay marriage.

My partner and I have been married in our minds for years now. He has had to endure my near breakdown when we were living in Tokyo. I’ve had to endure the way he eats his cereal. He has had to endure my strict adherence to time and obsessive compulsive nature. I’ve had to endure his being late for everything and sloppiness. This is marriage. And there is nothing gay about it–except the couple.

You see, I’ve come to really dislike the term gay marriage. Hate is too strong a word here. For example, I hate Rush Limbaugh, the Ace of Base and reality TV shows (don’t get me started on Toddlers and Tiaras) but I dislike the term gay marriage. Do we say straight marriage? No. It’s marriage.

Adding gay in front of marriage, simply and unfairly classifies it as something other than a traditional marriage. I’m typing this on the sofa, half watching the Metropolitan Opera’s production of La Traviata on cable. I’m sick but I still managed to get my ass out of bed to make it to the supermarket and the dry cleaner. I’ll have dinner on the table when my partner gets back from work. Tea lights will be lit. Jazz will be playing. Wine will be opened. If there is anything gay about this marriage, it’s that every night is like this. I make coming home a production, a low-key production of a relaxing evening at home. Hell, if I made the bacon and he played pampered expat housewife, you’d better believe I’d expect nothing less of him.

I told my partner that I wanted to wait until New York state legalized marriage equality. Growing up in South Texas, I always knew I wanted to leave my home state and move to the big city. New York City has meant a lot to me. It was the first place I ever really felt at home–and I moved there when I was 24. Screw Vermont and Connecticut, I was going to get married in New York.

The recent presidential election, however, sped the process along in a big way. My partner has been following Nate Silver for months now so I knew Obama was ahead in the key swing states. But still, I was worried. What if Mittens pulled it off? What if an amendment to the constitution was passed denying me of my legal right to marry my partner? What if we had had all this time to close the deal in New York state and blew it. Our relationship would not be valid in the eyes of the law. We wouldn’t even be in a legal gray area, married in one state, overruled by our government. And so on my partner’s recent business trip back to New York, I followed as I often do, but with a goal in mind.

The day of the ceremony, one of our best friends (and our witness) arrived with boutonnieres and a camera. As always, she went above and beyond what was expected of her. I wanted her signature and a pair of eyes, she brought a mini party. My partner, as always, was constantly checking his Blackberry. He had arranged a meeting with colleagues after the ceremony. This annoyed me and I made a joke of it but I got it. We were already married in our head. This was just a formality. Years from now, we could laugh that he went to a meeting directly after our wedding ceremony.

When the city clerk who would marry us called us into the east chapel, I smiled. When she had us stand before the podium, I giggled. When she had us face one another, I thought I’d break out laughing. It was all so formal, this ceremony. I get church giggles so anything formal or ceremonial always puts me over the edge. But then something happened. My eyes started to tear. Here, in front of me, was the man I was about to commit to, officially, for the rest of my life. I recently turned 40. If I’m lucky, I’ll have another 40 years, and with this man in front of me. I said I do. He said I do. We kissed. He ditched the meeting and the three of us took a cab to the Algonquin Hotel for a drink. He even got us a last minute reservation at one of our favorite New York restaurants, Union Square Cafe.

We surprised most everyone on facebook when we posted a picture of us in front of the podium. We kept our plans under wraps, surprising both family and friends. I’ve never received so many warm electronic messages. People cheered us from Switzerland to India, Japan to the UK. People wrote that they had teared up, been caught off guard, completely surprised. Pictures of champagne glasses in our honor appeared. I received an email from his mom welcoming me to the family. But wasn’t I already family? Weren’t we already married? No. We weren’t.

So that’s what marriage is all about in the end. Maybe you know you are married in your mind. Maybe you don’t care for the government to acknowledge your relationship, certify it, validate it. Maybe on principal you think it’s wrong for the state to get involved in what is very much a highly intimate and personal relationship between two people. And maybe you’re right. I just know that after I said “I do” I’ve had a newfound appreciation for our union. It’s official. We’re official. Our friends and family, strangers, see it as official. Hell, it’s a political act for some people. But for me, it’s time to start dinner.