Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 14, 2001

Ten years ago last week, my ex and I were married in Tahoe. It was a few days of lazy sunshine by the sparkly lake and marathon nights in oxygen-spiked casino bars with our favorite people. It didn’t suck. I like to think about that weekend as a celebration, a last hurrah, a warning even for the baby to come two years later, the destroyer of all things casino. Not that casinos mattered once the baby love hit – or even before that really.

The inspiration for the casino wedding was planning overload. I was a teacher; my whole life was planning. I talked my ex into doing one of those wedding packages. We were fortunate that our families footed the bill. And my ex’s family threw in a large rehearsal dinner that extended the party to two days.

We were married in front of a lake view during our one-hour time slot. The minister we had never met butchered my name during the ceremony. Later, at the indoor reception, the food was just OK, and the waitstaff somehow “lost” all the good wine that had been provided by my ex's family.

Yet none of that mattered. We were so touched by who showed up and how. I want my kids to know what a bright moment that weekend was for us, even now. I think it’s reasonable to steer away from certain aspects of that time to focus on a few random memories.

There was getting primped for the wedding in the high-roller suite with the killer lake view. My bridesmaids descended upon me without warning – there was no maid-of-honor because they all were – switching up my boring French manicure, makeup, and no-style hair for something much better. They each wore a Thai wrap skirt in a unique pattern and color, woven in shiny thread, and a gauzy off-white tank. It sounds so hippie, but they looked good.

During the impromptu makeover, my mother and aunt brought my grandmother by for a visit. My grandmother sat across from me quietly, clutching her plastic casino cup. I invited her to set her cup down. She claimed she didn’t feel comfortable because someone might take her nickels. I asked her if she had anything to share – wise words for her anxious granddaughter about to take the plunge. She didn’t. We teased her, and she laughed with that coy downward look of hers.

Another highlight was the surprise sawing-of-the-log tradition “continued” by my ex's parents. I believe they had gotten the idea from a wedding they had attended in Germany. We were brought to a log on the grass, guests watching from the decks above us. Our first task as a married couple was to saw that puppy in half, working together of course. It wasn’t until I was privy to the series of bent-over bride pics that I fully got the joke. Um, ha ha. Still, I’m a fan.

And don't forget the toasts. There were good moments, such as my father’s speech when he said marriage was about falling in love many times with the same person. Our exalted planner had the entire wedding party stand behind the microphone. The problem was the toasts went on and on, becoming more and more difficult to follow as our more medicated guests found their way to the front.

As I stood facing the crowd, I couldn’t stop thinking about the squishy lump that had fallen to my stomach inside my dress. I kept my hands just below it, so it wouldn’t suddenly plop out at my feet in front of the increasingly confused audience attempting to follow the words of our friends.

This was before kids, in skinnier times. Earlier that day, my mother had dropped off two squishy half-boobs to insert into the bust of my wedding dress. I was only slightly insulted, and then I was standing in front of an audience, preventing a fake boob from escaping my dress for over an hour. I bee lined to the bathroom after the toasts to ditch my little gifts.

But you probably wouldn’t notice me acting strangely if you saw the wedding video, because the cameraman lost interest in the bride and groom early on to follow his muse Amy around. In the course of the video, you can see her insulting my home, betraying my trust, hitting on my mother, and making my grandmothers dance to the extent that they woke up the next day embarrassed about their carrying on. Best wedding video ever.

But what gets me is fast forward 10 years. Other than Amy keeping herself firmly in the spotlight, everything has changed. I wish I could pause the next 10 years just long enough to get my bearings and formulate a plan, because wow, life is fast.


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