Monday, January 04, 2010

A Sunday In Two Acts

When I got up yesterday, the last thing I expected to do before nightfall was attend a wedding.

A friend picked me up around noon. I had agreed to go with her to a pre-dress rehearsal of a dance/opera in which she has a small part. For moral support. Because she's nuts and couldn't believe she'd let herself be talked into it! The choreographer of the show had seen my friend teaching her Tai Chi class; one thing led to another, and before her head stopped spinning she had agreed to do some Tai Chi in the show.

I spent an interesting few hours watching how such a show goes together. The producer was a wild looking young man named Constantine who had a comically hard time pronouncing the letter "R." In what I took to be an effort to tame his wild appearance, he was formally dressed. Anything beyond shorts and a t-shirt qualifies as formal in these parts! So, slacks, an open neck shirt and a sports jacket? Definitely formal! Which was just as well, as, if he'd worn shorts and a t-shirt he might not have managed to look a day over fifteen! He had an overall gingery appearance, pale with a shock of wiry, sandy hair, eyelashes to match, and large, wobbly glasses. I wondered what kind of a figure he'd cut in high school....He was all over the place, waving his arms, playing the piano [excellently], stopping to redo some parts, tweak others, to praise, to cajole, and to scold, like an old time schoolmaster, when his charges got too talkative.

The cast was a mixture of older and younger singers, male and female. Gorgeous young women with glossy hair, presence, and massive lungs, part of the equipment necessary to sing as beautifully as they did, undoubtedly. Just as well I never pursued a career in opera then, as I am woefully under-equipped. Lovely young people, all on the threshold of their lives. Definitely made me feel my age! Was it really a lifetime ago that I was like them? Or was I ever like them? Was I always on the edges, admiring? As I am now....

I watched the dancification of tai chi, as my friend went through her portion of the performance, decked out, to her mortification, in a diaphanous, floaty wisp of a costume, with young dancers, all of generous proportions and more massive lungs, twirling and floating about her.

And then, at last, the rehearsal was over. We were starved. The choreographer directed us to a local eatery, The Lime And Coconut, which turned out to be a Florida kitsch, hole-in-the-wall place we never would have happened on without directions. All very plain and infinitely hokey. We ordered, and ate, and our conversation found its way to how we'd both met our husbands, to our wedding days and our take on them now, from the enormous distance of thirty plus years.... Then there was a bit of a stir and we gathered, by listening, that a young couple, who had been sitting at the bar, were going to be married, right there, right then, by a justice of the peace!

The justice of the peace arrived and the young couple came and sat with her at the table next to ours. A call went out for someone with a camera, and since I had mine I got up, ready to play official wedding photographer.

It was short and sweet. The bride, a lovely girl, and her young man seemed very much in love, and happy and calm about the enormous step they were about to take.

I couldn't help wondering what had brought them to this place, on the third day of the year, to get married without parents, siblings and childhood friends in attendance. Just a raggle taggle group of people who happened by the Lime and Coconut. The buzz around the tiny restaurant was that they'd been intending to have the justice marry then down by the water's edge, but since the weather yesterday was close to freezing, they were persuaded to bring it inside where they'd at least be warm. How sad will that girl's mother be when she hears her beautiful daughter got married in a hokey little eatery by the Gulf of Mexico with so little ceremony? No beautiful gown, no flowers, no music, no bridesmaids, no candles? Was it that her parents didn't approve of her young man? Or were they planning a normal wedding but got so tired of the emphasis being on the wrong things that they threw up their hands and ran off together?

The core of the five minute ceremony was the same as any fancy, extensively planned, out-of-the-ball-park expensive wedding.

"Do you, Brittany, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?"

Brittany replied "I do!"

"And do you, Andrew, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?"
Andrew looked into her shining eyes and responded "I do!"

They each placed a ring on the other's finger and that was it. The deed was done.

"You may kiss the bride!"

Will she later regret not having had her Dad walk her down the aisle to give her away?

Friend and I had just been discussing how little we remembered of our wedding days. Too much excitement, too much pomp and circumstance, too little opportunity to quietly reflect on the enormity of the step we were taking.....Or maybe that's the plan? To keep you from thinking about what you are about to do..... In case such thoughts might lead you to run, screaming, from the church, and not stop until you reach a little fishing village by the Gulf of Mexico, on a cold day in January, where you can gather your thoughts over a glass of beer, find a justice of the peace, and quietly, without a lot of distracting hoop-la, promise to spend the rest of your life with this person you love, and step bravely, hand in hand, into the unknown.

Brittany and Andrew have been on my mind. I think they haunted my dreams last night. I hope they'll be happy together, that life will be gentle with them. And that, thirty years from now, Brittany will look back on her wedding day with no regrets. I feel like I've stolen something that rightfully belongs to a woman I've never met: the sight of her precious daughter's happiness on her wedding day. If the tables were turned I'd be bereft. I'm glad I was there.

Congratulations and Best of Luck, Brittany and Andrew!


Paulo Gonçalves said...

Viver o amo é belissimo.

Thimbleanna said...

Ohmygosh Molly! Once again, you've brought tears to my eyes. The joy, and yet the sadness. I want to know more! And I want to know about the poor bride's mother. Thanks for passing that haunting along -- I know I'll be thinking about this all day!

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

That is the best opening line EVER.

Wow. What a great story. What a sad, sweet, mysterious, touching, infinitely fascinating story.
I'm very glad that you were there, too.

You captured it so well, and we are all blessed to share their happiness with them, via your enormous heart & wonderful blog.

Thank you, thank you.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Warty Mammal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pauline said...

What a marvelous recounting. I think I would have felt bereft, too, had either of my daughters opted for such a wedding and yet... and yet, deep in my mother's heart, I know I'd be happy for her, no matter what. I wonder if they will see themselves here and be grateful to their photographer for making a record of their day.

Stomper Girl said...

Wow. I quite like the romance of them just making their vows together privately, but then I've never walked down the aisle myself.

jkhenson said...

My thoughts are along the lines of Thimbleanna. I am now haunted with the questions! :) The pictures are lovely, but oh, how I'd ache if I weren't at my daughters' weddings! However... a small gathering like that sounds wonderful. I definitely felt like "our" special day was a special day for the guests and a blur for us! :) Thank you for sharing! :)

fifi said...

oH! molly, that mad me weep!

But you were there, you dear kind girl, and look how in love they happy....

they can have a party when they get home, perhaps. A wedding is not always such a great thing! Its the love that counts..

fifi said...

maybe they dont have all their parents, and could not bear a wedding without them? My cousin defered her wedding by 8 YEARS because she could not bear the thought of our grandma not being at her wedding. At the wedding, she planted a tree for our garndma, so she could feel that she was there too.

I wept of course, but then, grandma made it to my wedding...

raining sheep said...

Oh my stars! What a story and what an experience - I have to admit I kind of like the sounds of that wedding.

Micki said...

What a lovely wedding story! They look like they are very much in love, and sometimes it is better when some family is not there. I am sure that they will be very happy!

Pam said...

I think that's a very sad story. I would just hate not to be at my daughter's wedding.

(I wouldn't believe everything that the Bean tells you, by the way...)

riseoutofme said...

Good on them! If I had my way again that's what I'd do!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I think , as her mother , I'd be happy if they were ..... and by the looks of it they are .
Anyway , maybe Mama's revenge will come later when she moves in on them , lock , stock and barrel when she's a bit doddery and hard of hearing !

Pam said...

Oh, I actually AM crafty, Molly. Like people who're about to write a novel. Theoretically, I'm crafty. I have done bits of crafty things in my youth. And I will again. Possibly.

K said...

Speaking of the Life family's crafty tendencies, Mr Life's mother was a great knitter, so maybe I do get some of it from that side.

I can confirm that Isabelle has done plenty of crafty things in the past, when she wasn't quite so busy: made patchwork cushions, made her own curtains, knitted and sewn baby clothes, and done plenty of interior decorating. She is a woman of many talents.

As for weddings, she did the flowers for mine and helped decorate the cake, as well as doing practically all the organising. (I had a friend who got engaged after I did and got married in Vegas with nobody but her and her husband there, and during the actual planning process, I did sometimes think that running away might be easier. I knew I didn't want to, though.)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

How lovely! And what a beautiful couple. I hope that life will be gentle with them, too, and that their love will survive the dailiness of marriage. And I wonder as you do about the lack of family, what story lies behind their absence on such an important day. It makes me sad, but I'm glad you were there to lend your wise and compassionate presence and to record the first moments of their married life together. Thank you for sharing this with all of us, Molly.

dianne said...

my (former) mother-in-law refused to attend her daughter's (my former sister-in-law) wedding because 1) the wedding cake was CHOCOLATE and b) she did NOT approve of the groom and thirdly) she just wasn't a very nice person at the time ... she was kinda mean at our wedding, too ... but she was also right about her son not being good enough for me - ha ha ha!

Brittany and Andrew look like a lovely couple ... the ceremony isn't the thing - it's the life together after, innit?

Meggie said...

Wow! I wish them both a wondrous happy life together.