Friday, October 15, 2010

18 Dresses

For the most part, the car was silent, the road pulling us North as our eyes danced across the changing of the leaves as they whisked past us, the reds, yellows and oranges blurring together as the camouflage for fall. My mind was reeling over meeting evaluations, securing a photographer, missing my family and deciding what my up do was going to be the next day…

Jess and Eric’s wedding.

The espresso-colored dress lined the backseat next to me, the sides perfectly hemmed, little dog hairs trailing across the back reminding me that clutter and responsibility awaited me at home, despite my excursion of the weekend. I tried to daydream as my parents exchanged light-hearted conversation, and I thought about how much we had changed, our roles looking more like peers than parent to child, child to parent with the welcoming of a grandchild and the entry into the 30s. I also thought about how much I loved and appreciated them, and how I should hold on to these moments on our trek to Rochester, Minnesota…for it’s not every year one gets the opportunity to share a road trip with only their parents, bathed in comfortable, adult silence and stretches of road ahead.

As we got closer, I watched the contemporary windmills twist in the wind, taking in the billboards of civilization coming up around the corner and began to wonder how I was going to get around in this “tiny town.” Pulling into the main drag, I marveled at the Trader Joes, Super Target and all other things holy that you could ask for in a city.

Dropping my things in the quaint room and watching my parents stroll side by side to their car, I marvel at the number of years shared between them, and find myself wondering how they make it work. Then, deciding to get less deep, I frisk for my phone and searched for Laney in my favorites. Minutes later, we’re together, as if time stood no chance in the distance and months that tried to separate our friendship, talking like sisters, reviewing outfits, curling hair and gossiping. It was almost as if the letters A, X and O dangled over our heads again on a late Friday night.

As the rehearsal began, I stare at my beautiful friend, that, although seemed a bit stressed with the big day looming ahead and a church full of quasi non-compliant guests, looked beautiful and excited about what lay ahead. Her outfit perfectly planned, her nails done, her shoes uncomfortable, she was graceful and stunning…with a smile to match. Watching her with her husband to be, one could almost feel the warmth of patience, love and kindness that grew between them in the midst of all the madness.

The hours led late into the evening, introducing me to girls who I might as well have known for 15 years as we shared laughter and child stories over drinks. The bride’s family fit the stereotypical Northern exposure, welcoming and embracing us with gentleness, inclusiveness and humor as a way to let guests know “you’re welcome here.” Slide shows were viewed, new friendships were made and anticipation of the big day ahead was on everyone’s minds. Not to mention the buzz of the downtown, a martini-like atmosphere with a romantic, suburban feel that’s hard to come by anywhere else.

Morning arrives, and is typical, the girls are dolled up with coifed hair – antique pony tails on the side, up dos with loose curls and a face of porcelain beauty and a perfectly placed veil lined the bride. Dresses are put on, makeup applied, sandwiches carefully consumed so as not to stain the silk and the calming of the bride occurs. Pictures are snapped, the tears begin and the hustle and bustle of it all begins. The zipper of the expensive gown goes awry, leaving the clan to scramble for a well-executed pin montage. The necklace the bride dreams of wearing snaps and is tied with floss, leaving little to show in pictures and a lot to recall on such a fun event. Jokes are shared, last minute preparations are completed, and then the two are introduced and celebrated to spend their life together.

Later, the sun beams gently on our faces, the weather a gift from some higher spirit that understands how deserving this girl is. Last minute pictures are taken, thank goodness avoiding the “perch on your partner’s leg” pose, the entrance into he reception is announced and dancing commences until the wee hours of the morning. A candy bar is populated, along with the liquor one, pizza is delivered and bobby pins begin to fly out from all the fun. It is an evening to never forget.

But the most memorable: those faces. Two people so deeply in love, who have been through the tough stuff and celebrated the rockin’ stuff along the way. Two people who have shared deep secrets when it was hard to be vulnerable, who have made across-state moves, who delight in fireworks and sports, have built a home and opened their hearts. Two people who, just years ago, weren’t even sure they were going to take that first dance together. Now here they are today, standing before the world and proclaiming their love for all of its beauty, righteousness and fortitude. Two people who share inside jokes, share sacred values and appreciate one another for just who they are. Two people, who, undoubtedly, will sit side by side in those porch chairs and silently, with love, watch the sun dip beneath the horizon and breath a sigh of contentment that this is the life they have chosen, with each other.

Jess and Eric – thank you for my 18th dress experience. While I know it’s not 27 and most likely will not warrant a reporter following me around for days, it truly is a day in writing for me that I’ll remember always. Wishing you the best and celebrating your love today and always – happy marriage, dear friends!

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