A Garden Wedding

June 11th, 2009 § 2 comments

I am looking out the window of the plane en route to new york. The sun is setting over clouds that have finally stopped shaking the beer can we are flying in, and the view is breathtaking. It is awkward to be so high, but it’s a view I can never resist, and since it will be dark when I fly over the east, I am enjoying the window seat while it still matters.

midwest

At the risk of sounding cliché, I can’t help but state that the wedding was truly beautiful. It was everything I think the bride wanted it to be; simple, nontraditional, sentimental, and meaningful. Despite the rebellion my generation instinctively feels toward the traditions of feminine ownership, I understand why we love weddings. Property matters aside, it is a lovely way to come together as a group and celebrate something good. Love, even when it does not last, in the moment that it is true, is a glorious thing to toast—birth, death, and love. The details of weddings only matter because they too are icons of a kind of shared beauty. Flowers, friends, silks and satins are simply the manner in which we reflect a feeling, and our sentiment.

wedding

It was a day, a ceremony, and celebration that was filled with perfect imperfections; a cloudy, cold June day in southern California? Not enough of some things, too much of others, drama and small spats ensuing in the corners farthest from the bride, groom, and their little one. A late arrival, the DJ who played music that made us laugh rather than dance, a few jealous girls, some spoiled children, too many pot smoking uncles and fathers, and a groomsman who drunkenly stumbled into bushes, made it a wedding we will never forget. We could not have asked for a better combination of reality mixed with festivity, of perfect feelings mixed with the everyday sentiments we can’t seem to help. Perfect days are only perfect when there is something rather wrong with them, and this one was as perfect as they come.

the bride

I remember vividly the last time we were all together. Jackie and I stood in a different backyard looking at a different arrangement of tables, admiring a beautiful morning in the desert, while wishing with desperation the day was a wedding. This wedding day, gloomy and overcast, with a chill breeze, felt like a long overdue celebration. Watching old friends—friends who reach so far back into your past that you have lost the desire to convince people just how you met, when, what you have been through since, and how you have changed—grow up, get married, and have children, is something I am grateful for. Again it sounds trite, but it is nice to know that somehow we all made it from childhood to a reasonably happy adulthood, we can remember for each other how the others got there, or at least that we did. Someday, we will be as grateful for each other remembering this wedding, Stella as a baby, Lex and Suz in their first house, as we are right now for all that has come before. It is not necessary to say, as one speaker did, “and I have known you longer than anyone,” as we have known each other long enough

Looking down over the flat circles of the Midwest, I know too who was missing, that someone ever present and yet distant to so many of us. I remember, with a jolting sadness I have not felt in some time, that Jon is gone. I can imagine how the celebration would have been different with that extra chair, and I can see the little bits and pieces of the party that would have altered had he been there. I noticed too lines etched into faces, shifted personalities, and smiles that are too distant and infrequent. I hear his speech in my head, and I smile thinking how inappropriate it would have been, how it would have made us hurt with laughter, and how full of kindness it would have been. There will always be, as new people come and old ones change, that gap between us, where he should be, ought to be, but isn’t. It was almost with laughter on my lips that I scanned the crowd for his face, just because it was so natural that he be there. But it was a happy thought that many of us remembered and shared the unspoken feeling.

Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.

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