OK, it's Sunday. The Boyfriend is off to work. I've had my french toast and coffee. I am ready to rock the blog.
Backtrack: Last month I attended two weddings. One on the 18th in San Francisco and one on the 24th in NYC. In case you weren't there.
The beauty of two weddings so close together is...Well OK it's really more a pain in the ass than anything but there was no way I was going to miss either of these nuptials. So, jet-lag be damned, it was a coast to coast tour.
The left coast wedding was not only a chance to share a celebration with two dear friends, it also afforded me the opportunity to catch up with some of the most important people in my adopted family. Four years, it's a long time to live with people. You begin to share the same skin. These are the people with whom I have shared some of the most intimate moments of our lives. Going away to college, being away from actual family, you create a new family. Not a family better than your actual. Just different, based on mutual interests, distaste for the same professors and the necessity to trade points at the dining hall for hard cash. Safety in numbers, and all that jazz. You put together your safety net a little more carefully in college than you might have in high school, if you ever had one.
And then "poof." It's graduation day and time to go your separate ways. And never again will it be quite the same as it was when you were all under one roof - or at least one zip code. So yay weddings for bringing us all back together again.
These really are the weddings that make me weep. This is the second of my "brothers" to get married and it's THE STRANGEST THING EVER. I don't mean any disrespect in my disbelief but everyone has to understand that I remember when these guys were...Boys really. I remember when all of the girls in the Theater Department had crushes on my enigmatic, english major roommates. I remember lessons learned, like "don't cook bacon naked." And arguments over whether to brown the garlic first or add it last when making our world renowned Super Deluxe Mac N' Cheese.
Now my Fave Dish is married with daughter and Seth is a trained chef (studied in Paris and everything.) Things change but they will always be the same. Seth is still a bit of a weeper - endearing him even more to me. And Dave pays more attention to his daughter than I ever saw him pay to...Well any girl ever. It's cute and it's strange. It's lovely and disturbing all at the same time. They have both married well and with love to wonderful women.
Sunday, the 18th of September found us all gathered on a parapet (thanks for the new word Brahmani) overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The wind whipped through the gathering, carrying away the vows but I have never seen either bride or groom say something so earnestly before. They looked into each others eyes and spoke from their hearts the secret words of love. And then we all drank champagne and hugged each other. It was simple and elegant.
Of course, there was then much partying like rock stars in our fancy dress up clothes. The boys and I seem to have only one tradition (unless I'm not the only one still cooking up our mac n' cheese.) The day of our graduation party, back in 1998, there was a picture taken of the three of us. Me in the middle, Seth on my left and Dave on my right. Since then we have only seen each other at weddings really. So we are much better dressed in the proceeding pictures - one at Dave's wedding and now one at Seth's. And no matter how often I look at the picture of us from Dave's wedding, taken now some four years ago, my mind still superimposes upon it the original. Taken on a spring day in New Paltz, New York after we had been celebrating all ready for hours in the warm sun. A little sweaty. A little drunk, a little high on the feeling that the world was open at our feet.
Last month there wasn't nearly enough time to sit around with each other. I went away from that wedding understanding a little better how far we have all come as people in this world but with no greater understanding of any of our places in it. It's always good though, to go home again. And seeing this little family of mine made me anxious and nervous about the next wedding, in New York, where my flesh and blood family would be gathered all in one fancy mansion/castle in the heart of Manhattan.
Wedding New York Style...This is the one my aunt has been waiting for...hee hee.
It, by the way, amuses me to no end that my family reads this blog regularly. I've been writing since I could hold a pen and I've finally found a public enough medium for everyone to tune in. Huzzah!
Ahem, anyway...The Wedding. Right. So, not only do I not see my extended family all that often, this wedding marked the first occasion of my The Boyfriend interacting with my family on a grand scale. I was probably more nervous than he was really. What does he have to worry about? He doesn't even know these people. I know them but don't really remember some of them all that well. Not for nuthin but it's been a looooong time since the old days of waking up on Christmas morning in my aunt and uncle's house with all the kids and all the toys and all the food. Good times, good times. So, some of these people I really haven't seen since either the last family wedding or when I left NY about seven years ago.
And it's not so much that any of them look different or act different. I would recognize the members of my family anywhere. Their names and actual relations to me are a completely separate matter though. Two minutes after walking into the wedding I started thinking long and hard about making everyone who attends my wedding (if and when, no one get too excited just yet OK?) wear nametags. Perhaps a little flowchart on a wall somewhere showing how everyone knows everyone else. Something, I don't know.
So, yeah this wedding...oooh this wedding. This was maybe the fanciest wedding I have ever been to. Seriously it was in a mansion. Not that the mansion belonged to anyone in the family, but still - a mansion, directly across the street from Central Park and just down the street from "Museum Row." So, you know...faaaaancy. Which is weird for my family I feel. Not that we don't clean up really well as a group but in my brain the strongest memories of these people are from when I was very young, and so were they. In my memories we are at various barbecues, outdoor concerts, the beach, little league games, choir recitals - we are eating sandy sandwiches or sundaes from Friendly's or fishing for dinner. When I think about my family I do not think about them in tuxedos or sparkly dresses. I don't think about them at banquet tables or making toasts, I think about us all squished in around a dining room table. I think about us arguing with my grandmother about how we should use a new plate for our salads so we don't end up with spaghetti sauce mixed into the salad dressing. It's an interesting new perspective, all of these family weddings. First of all, the plate argument is solved by the armies of "cater waiters" serving at these functions. There's a new plate for every course, I think Grandma would be happy about that.
That's the other thing about these fantastical family weddings. It brings to focus, even for fleeting moments, the people we are missing. The people, however long it has been since they were lost to us, who are still fresh in our hearts and minds and present at every occasion as long as we keep them so. It's not hard to miss them. It's so easy, in fact, that you spend most of the night expecting to see them on the dance floor...Ahhhh, this is too maudlin and I can no longer continue with this train of thought without delving off the tracks and getting lost in a million memories.
So, let's talk about the hors d'oevres. They were fantastic! Nothing like mingling with the family over glasses of wine and champagne and tasty treats on crackers. Only those of us married and with families have graduated from "the kids' table." But "the kids" are a lot older now and far more interesting than when we were actual children. We're a lot less messy now as well and eat most of our vegetables voluntarily. We grow, we change, we stay the same forever and always. It's the nature of people. It's the nature of families. There will always be a "children's table," even when the children are entering their thirties.
It probably works out best for all involved. As we get older it gets harder to distinguish the "adults" from the "kids." Lines blur, and as long as we can stick close to the folks we remember best from youth we can all be as young as we want for the evening. We can all dance and have a good time, drink a little too much, stay up a little too late and say the things we need to say to each other. Things that every family, blood or otherwise, must say, especially when you don't see each other nearly often enough:
I love you.
I miss you.
I am so proud of you.