Living alone as I do, for as long as I have, I must admit that some of my happiest times come about by my living vicariously. Being around couples in love gives me a kind of nourishment that is mild but meaningful, and although I do not live in this kind of relationship and cannot imagine having it, whenever I get to see this present in the lives of others, I feel happy.
Tonight I am recalling where I was this time a year ago. It was the eve of my daughter’s marriage to her love of the last eight years. I participated by prepping the food for the hundred guests they had invited. They did not ask me to do this, I offered. It was my gift to them, as I had no other way to give them a wedding present. I just watched a fun movie this evening called “Betsy’s Wedding,” by Alan Alda, which reminded me of how Matt and Eya’s wedding unfolded. Theirs was almost as crazy!
They announced their engagement the first week of January and through the next nine months, I feel certain I worried more about the event than they did. As the mother of the bride, I hoped to be included in much of the planning. As it turned out, I made myself available to do whatever my daughter might let me do for her. Sometimes it felt as though I was more of a nuisance to her than a help. By the time the week of the wedding rolled around, amazingly, it looked as though it would actually take place.
I spent many hours planning the menu in detail, writing out recipes and all the steps involved with the prep of each one. By the time I moved into the place I rented for the week of the wedding, I had boxes and boxes of all the different foods I would need for the preparation of what I considered a true feast. The day before the wedding, three of my closest and oldest friends were with me, helping me get it all prepped. The day of the wedding, we all worked nonstop up until the clock told us it was time to get the food over to the venue. The wedding was supposed to start at 6:30 p.m. I was still in the kitchen at the venue at 5:45 p.m., giving set-up instructions to the two women we had hired to help us. When I left to go back to my rental and get dressed, guests were already standing about, drinks in hand. Still with my chef’s apron on, quite dirty by now, I ran to my car, got out into the five o’clock traffic, drove like a maniac to the apartment, dressed, and got back to the venue by 6:37 p.m. I was sure I had held up everything, but no, the people were invited to go sit in the chairs set up outdoors under the old oak trees so the ceremony might begin, only a half hour “behind schedule.”
My ex-husband and I walked our daughter across the lawn to where Matt waited under the live oaks, their married-couple friends also waiting there to “officiate.” My son played guitar as we approached. I kissed my daughter, stepped away to an empty seat on the front row. My ex-husband sat next to me. The ceremony was all one might wish for, simple, sweet, not too long, and not too short. My heart was just about bursting with happiness, and I could not stop smiling.
The ceremony over, everyone moved back to the hall where a bar was set up outside on the patio. I think I had one drink. I cannot remember. I was still in the caterer mode, needing to check on how the food looked on the tables, double-checking everything. The food was set up as a buffet, and the line moved quickly. It seemed as though people were enthusiastically helping themselves to everything, so I settled in with my own group at my table and ate. Still, it is all a blur. I do not remember any conversation I may have had with anyone. I do remember watching Matt and Eya dance for at least five minutes, maybe longer, to the best swing band. These two had it down! Someone videotaped their dancing and put it up on You Tube. When I returned home to the isolation of these hills, I watched them dance, once again feeling that happiness I felt that night.
By midnight, everyone pitched in and “broke it down.” Eya almost forgot to toss the bouquet, so she climbed up on one of the ladders used to take down decorations and tossed her bouquet to the girls waiting. Then, down came all the lights, the flags, the lanterns. We cleared the tables of all flowers, vases, and linens, and stacked them against the wall. In the kitchen, the two women who worked incessantly all evening were almost finished with the rinsing of all dishes used. There was a lot of food left over, so I sent both of them home with enough for them and their families. By 12:30 a.m., all the guests, bride, and groom had gone, except for my son and my sister, who helped me get the last of everything I had brought to the venue into my car. I went back to my small home-away-from-home, fell into bed, with my feet and legs cramping, and body aching. I never knew I could feel so much pain and joy simultaneously. All I had to do to relax was remember how Matt and Eya danced their first dance.
You cannot tell me I do not know love, even if vicariously! This night, a year later, I know these two are somewhere in the world, still living their love, celebrating. I am celebrating, as well, in my own way.