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Today is..

(or would have been) the 74th birthday of my father-in-law.

(or would have been) the 106th birthday of my paternal grandmother-in-law.

the 11th cancer-free anniversary of my mother-in-law.

the 6ish-month cancer-free anniversary of my mother.

the birthday of a good friend, made bittersweet by the fact that it’s her first birthday since her brother was killed in a car accident last August.

the 64th wedding anniversary of my dad’s grandparents.

the 4th wedding anniversary of John and I.

“Will you still laugh at my jokes on our 60th wedding anniversary?”

“Who’s to say I laugh at them now?”

Happy anniversary, my love. Here’s to many more in the hopes of making it to at least 64.

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Life has been so full of stuff lately that I feel like I haven’t had a chance to sit and breathe, let alone do anything extra. There’ve been scuba classes to teach, research symposium applications to finish, weddings to help with and attend, plus all sorts of work.

The biggest thing John and I had on our plate lately was Elizabeth and Mark’s wedding. We’ve been having all sorts of lunch and dinner parties to help the happy couple make table center pieces or arrange favors or have bridal showers. We’ve been on a number of bike rides to help the bride tone her arms and back. It’s been really great to watch two people so clearly in love, and so right for one another. Plus meeting all of their other friends has been a blast.

Their wedding was last weekend, and it was beautiful. Hot as hades, but beautiful. Full Catholic mass ceremony, which was a bit much for a non-air-conditioned church (one of my friends from high school nearly passed out but made it through), and a great reception. We’d helped set up the reception area beforehand, so knew how nice it was going to be. There was also a post-wedding brunch, for which my oven was on at 400deg for 2 hours on Saturday, while the outside temperature was hovering around 100deg. Hot, but the food was oh-so-tasty.

Elizabeth and Mark are off on their honeymoon for the next couple of weeks, and I’m sort of sad to not have them around, and to have no more wedding party excuses for getting together, but we’ll be back to our usual routine the minute they’re home, I’m sure.

The other big thing that’s been taking up my time, and absorbing most of my words, is my paper, which was submitted Monday to a journal, and has been sent out for review. Such a relief. I went home Monday, sprawled on the couch, and didn’t move for hours. That may have been due to the heat, in part, but still. It’s done, or at least I don’t have to think about it for 4-6 weeks. Cross your fingers for me, will you?

I’m pretty proud of this paper. Yes, maybe it’s not as great as it could have been with massive more experiments (there’s always another paper, I suppose), and no, it’s not going to change the world, and yes, it’ll likely be one of two instead of a whole handful that I end up graduating with, but that work? It’s mine. I did it. I completed it, with lots of help, but it’s still mine. And I’m pretty proud of that, regardless of the comments that have been thrown at me in the past about it.

Now to just get a second paper out and aim to graduate sometime. Key word: sometime.

But hopefully with the paper done, I’ll be around a bit more. I’ve clearly kind of forgotten how to do this whole blogging thing, but hopefully it’s like riding a bicycle, which, hey, I’m allowed to do again! Here’s to the paper being sent off, and theoretically only 2-3 more months of physical therapy! Whee!

I know the last thing you all want to read about (or, you know, ignore and mark ‘read’) late on a Friday afternoon is how I’m tired of this cold. But I am. Two and a half weeks of it is quite enough. The cough and sore throat are mostly gone, but the congested sinuses and runny nose (how the hell is that combination possible?) are still here. I’m feeling more energetic and ‘alive’, so that may be a good sign, but the symptoms remain. Bah. I do not have high hopes for diving tomorrow–sinus pressure generally eliminates the ability to equalize ear air spaces–think the squeeze feeling you get on planes that are ascending or descending, but worse. This makes the 4am wake-up-call even less bearable. I’ll most likely spend the day standing in the surf hauling students in and out of the waves. Bah again.

So some fun thoughts…..

I may be completely out of those. Alas, alack.

Some crap went down over the holidays and I’m waiting to see how it’s going to sort itself out. It involves some people I care a great deal about, and some people I could and would cheerfully throttle were it not for laws against that sort of thing. It’s not my story to tell, though, so I’m sort of wondering how much of it to make public. That said, I’m here to unburden myself, so I’m guessing you’ll get an earful one of these days.

And this big elephant in the room, combined with a cold and being back at work after two weeks off, just sucks. I’ve been sleeping a lot, and reading a lot, and working a lot, and not much else.

However, there’s diving tomorrow, and then a wedding on Sunday! Happy day! I will smile through all this and take my victories where I can. Hope you all are off to have a great weekend!

I spent seven hours in the pool yesterday, as our staff was teaching the first scuba course of 2009. We had 12 students. Thirteen hours in the pool over two days, immediately after flying home, was not how I’d envisioned spending my weekend. Especially with a head cold that kept me from descending below about 3-5 feet–I mostly floated at that level, directing the flow of students to instructors and other staff in the deep end, and keeping an eye on all the students in the shallows.

But somewhere along the line, it occurred to me what the day was.

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the date we found out my mom had breast cancer.

I was at home–the Bay Area was getting hit with a huge storm, and I was hoping that it would die down a bit so I could get to work without getting soaked. It was a Friday.

My mom had had appointments the day after Christmas and the day after New Years Day. We’d been home for the one after Christmas, and knew she’d had a biopsy scheduled. When she called, I asked how she was. She told me the doctor had told her she had breast cancer. I told her I was sorry. She said she was likely having surgery sometime that week. I said I’d fly home. We only talked for a minute or two. She was calling family to let them know, and said we’d talk again soon.

I immediately burst into tears and started looking for plane tickets. Within a week, I was flying home to see her. Everything else–work, teaching scuba, going to the Arizona-Stanford game–suddenly seemed so freaking insignificant next to the fact that my mom was sick. Seriously–I could have happily flown home even if the entire Arizona men’s basketball team was coming to dinner at my house. Who the hell would have cared at that point? (Perhaps somewhat fittingly, Arizona played here at Stanford last night. They lost. That sucks, but I’d take my mom’s health and still having her in my life over a win any day, so I just kind of went with the flow.)

I remember the suppressed panic of the week before I went home, and of the first two days I was home, thinking the cancer was likely metastatic. I remember calling John and telling him that if it was, and if she really did have only a 2-year life expectancy, then we were having a kid. I wanted her to meet her grandchild if at all possible. I think I scared the crap out of him. I was pretty scared myself, though for many different reasons.

I remember sitting in the doctor’s office, taking notes in my mom’s book where she was recording all the critical facts and information, as the doctor told us it wasn’t metastatic. Stage 3C–the last stage before that horrible diagnosis–never sounded so good. My dad was late to the appointment–he’d been having a meeting with someone in my mom’s place. He got there just as we were leaving. I remember hugging my mom and dad and crying right there in the hallway. I remember thinking that regardless of all else, we’d been given a chance.

Now here we are, a year later, and my mom is the poster child for herceptin, the new breast cancer wonder drug. Six months of a three-mix chemo, a bilateral mastectomy, 5 weeks of radiation, and a year of herceptin (she’ll be done on the 20th), and we’re about as home free as we could possibly be.

All of us have come out the other side of this as stronger people and a stronger family. You never really know how much you can endure until you’re asked. Then you either do, or you don’t. What happens is up to you. And I think the people we love are often far stronger than we give them credit for–as nice as it would be to shoulder all their burdens and protect them, that’s not always possible, but I’m glad to find out we’re all come through this as relatively unscathed as possible.

My mom looks good these days–her hair has grown out and is marginally longer than a buzz cut. She’s got energy again. She’s talking about reconstruction surgery. This scares the crap out of me–she’s considering the option that involves the most intensive and longest surgery, but may be easiest in the long run. I know it’s her decision, and I respect that, but I can tell you I may be a basketcase for the 12 hours she’ll be in surgery. Gotta get a plane ticket booked again.

My dad, too, looks better–less stressed and worried than he was a year ago. I know he took over a lot of my mom’s teaching duties for the past year, as well as shouldering all the stuff at home she couldn’t do, so it’s nice to see him looking like more of his normal self.

It was nice to be with them again this year, without the spectre of the doctor’s appointments overshadowing us as we all celebrated the holidays. Granted, I went to two different doctor’s appointments, but nothing out of the ordinary. We had such a short time with my parents that I was just glad to see them at all. And to know she’ll be with us for hopefully a long time to come, and my dad, too, is easily the best present ever. Here’s to 2009 and better health for all!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Day 5, Wednesday

Wednesday was our shark dive day. Most of our group had signed up to do the dive, and no one else from the resort had, so it was just us rushing through breakfast to get an early start. We had to head to a dive site near the mainland to meet up with Aqua Trek Divers (I think), the group that does the shark dive. They have two divemasters who hand-feed the sharks. What you may not see is that they wear chainmail under their dive gloves. Not quite such a trick in that case, but still pretty impressive.

It was a beautiful day–sunny, puffy clouds, and the wind from earlier in the week was mostly gone. We all did our pre-dive set up and checks, and no one seemed too nervous. Even Cara, who’d only decided at the last minute to do the dive, was pretty excited.

We were relaxed enough that, at one point, our group of 10 or so actually did the “spontaneously all break into the same song” thing.

On the way to the school the day before, one of the songs we’d thought of singing was “You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin'” from ‘Top Gun’ (the only good Tom Cruise movie ever made, btw). We all actually knew enough of it that we could get through it, and some of us even had the voices for the highs and lows in it (Bay-bee! Bay-bee!–You know the part I mean). So, on the boat that morning, someone, probably James F, randomly started, and before we knew it, we were all singing along, with all the voices and everything. All the way through. It was pretty cool, and something you only feel like happens in the movies, but we really did it.

It became the song of the trip. Which, based on what later happened, was pretty funny.

So we got to the shark site, appropriately named “The Bistro”, only to find the other boat there and already jumping in the water. Our divemasters gave us a thorough briefing, emphasizing that we’d be perfectly safe, and off we went. We pretty much drifted straight down to about 60 feet (with a brief detour by John to rescue Shelly’s camera from where it had accidentally sunk following an accidental removal from the camera bin), and then swam down a ledge to about 80 feet of water. There was a shallow coral wall with a rope running across it, and we positioned ourselves sitting along the wall and holding onto the rope.

The Aqua Trek guys had two large trash bins, the lidded kind that you see for apartment complex recycling (or at least, that we have for that purpose), full of fish heads and guts and various other unwanted parts from one of the local fish factories. They were pulling out chunks and hand-feeding anything that came near.

There were two nurse sharks, probably 6-7 feet or so in length, nosing around on the bottom. At one point, one of them swam up and just stuck his head inside the trash can, inhaling whatever he could. It was pretty funny, and the divemaster had to push him back out.

There was also a big silver tip, maybe 8 feet in length, circling the area. He went right over the heads of the people next to us, although he didn’t seem concerned with us at all. All the divemasters had large metal rods to poke the fish away when they got too close, which was a bit reassuring.

Aside from the sharks, there was a large maelstrom of fish circling the feeding area: black jacks (sort of like giant tuna), a giant napoleon wrasse, a giant grouper with an entourage of golden trevally (or “yes fish” as we took to calling them). Theoretically, there was also a lemon shark (I may have seen it, but it’s pretty much identically to the nurse shark, so who knows) and some bull sharks in the distance (never saw them).

Seta, one of the divemasters, took Rae out to touch one of the nurse sharks, and after he brought her back, he took me out. And…the sharks promptly swam away. He put me back in line, we waited, and then we tried again. No luck. “Next dive”, he signed to me.

After about 15 minutes, we headed back up the slope to the Japanese fishing trawler wreck that was under our boats (but our boats were still on the surface, thankfully). Here, we found a tiny banded pipefish, and spent some time swimming along the wreck. We found a little jellyfish, which the divemasters signaled ‘don’t touch’, and watched it for awhile. There was also a yellow margin moray hiding in the rocks looking for extra fish handouts.

John was headed off to look at the screw (the propeller, I think “screw” is the right term, if not, haha anyway), and I was set to follow when James F grabbed my fin. I turned around and he signaled “come back here”.

Then, as I watched, he asked Cara to marry him!

Awwww!

There was “you and me” pointing, then “buddy up” signaling, and finally he pantomimed a ring on his ring finger. She kind of looked at him funny, so he did it again. This time, there was a definite response of “really?” He nodded. She squealed. It was really funny and romantic and awesome. They “bumped regs”, then actually took out their regs and kissed, then cleared their masks and checked their air like good little divers.

At that point, Aaron handed James the ring from his whistle (it was like the ring off of car keys), and it fit perfectly over Cara’s gloved hand. And as any girl out there knows, that rusted ring of metal is going to mean more to her than any expensive rock James could ever buy.

James had been talking about this with me for awhile, and I knew he had no money for a ring but that he wondered if he found the perfect time and place, would that be enough? My answer was OF COURSE!!! And of course it was!

The divemaster who was filming us on the shark encounter even caught some of it on video, and James M snapped a couple pictures. When James F looked over at me for approval, all I could do was nod, smile, and fold my hands over my heart (I wasn’t sure the smiling was evident around the reg). That, too, is on video, and it’s pretty funny.

It. was. perfect.

Which is why “You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin'” was such a funny song for the trip. 🙂

Back on the boat, we again congratulated James and Cara, verbally this time, and I assured him, when he asked later, that it had been perfect. He told me that, as we were getting ready for the dive, he’d decided to do it. He wasn’t sure how or when, but he was going to do it there, underwater, on the shark dive. Wasn’t Cara glad she decided to do that dive?

Even after that, there was still more diving to do!

On the second dive, we stopped at the 60 foot wall, and faced the same cyclone of fish around the two trash cans of food. I’d teased Delana, one of the divemasters, about not seeing the bull sharks and thinking he made them up, so he came and got me out of line and took me so I was on a line perpendicular to John and all the other divers. The maelstrom was right ahead of me, and behind it (relative to the other divers) there were a number of bull sharks.

Now, bull sharks are pretty man-hungry in that they can swim up fresh water rivers (most sharks can’t), and often do, and tend to munch on people bathing in those rivers. So before the dive, I was a bit nervous about them. However, this was just ridiculously awesome.

Right in front of me were about 5-10 sharks, several upwards of 10ish feet. I could see the divemasters holding out fish heads, and the bull sharks circling in for the feast. I stayed their with Delana for the whole 20 minutes, and it was amazing. I felt a bit bad afterwards that John and Company didn’t have as good a view, but that didn’t really diminish my excitement. The black jacks, napoleon wrasse, yellow margin moray, and lots of other fish were still there on this dive, but all my attention went to the bulls.

Afterwards, we poked around in the coral at about 20 feet, working on getting out some of the nitrogen we’d accumulated on a long safety stop. Seta signed to me at one point why hadn’t I wanted to go touch a shark. I signed back that I’d SEEN the sharks! After the dive, it was back to our own island, and all along the way we kept reliving the experience.

The only thing to mar it was that the famed tiger shark hadn’t shown up. Apparently it was an “off” day for her. Oh well, this means we just have to go back and do the dive again, right? Gee, darn!

Back at the resort at lunch, we spread the word about the sharky engagement, and after James and Cara had gone to get ready for the afternoon dive, asked the managers if they could arrange for champagne for a toast at dinner. We met back up with James and Cara at the pool, where we laid in the sun waiting for the afternoon dive time. A couple people came up to congratulate them, and James kept remarking that he hadn’t done anything worth congratulating! My point was, the congratulations were for their love.

The afternoon dive was much more relaxed, and after the excitement of the morning, we were A-OK with that. We went to a site called Seven Sisters, which had 7 shallow coral heads that we swam around. There were many more white and purple nudibranchs, blue ribbon eels, black and orange flatworms, and a purple and orange fringed nudibranch. We also saw a reddish-brown scorpionfish, which turned to stone color as it swam, and some magic coral.

Magic coral, you say? What’s that? It’s coral covered in polyps that retreat when you touch them, so if you touch a small part of the coral, all the polyps retreat along it’s length in a rippling effect. It’s pretty cool to watch, although we tried not to torture the coral too much by doing so.

Back at the resort, we lounged by the pool and had our daily happy hour cocktails. James F had rescued a diver’s light on the night dive the night before, and the diver offered to buy him a drink. I quipped that he’d narrowly beaten me to the light, and he didn’t drink. I meant it as a joke, but the diver bought both him and me a drink. Happy Sarah!

Then, before dinner, the waitress brought out the champagne. It was pretty obvious right from the beginning, but after everyone was served, I stood up and made a toast to James and Cara and invited everyone to drink to their love. It was sweet and wonderful, and I know they both appreciated it, even though they were a bit embarrassed at the time. I told Cara afterwards, when she offered to help pay, to think of it as an engagement party!

After the toast, the manager stood up and congratulated them. Then he made an announcement that bowled us over. For getting engaged while AT the resort, they were gifted with one of two options: Come to the resort for the wedding, and have the entire Fijian ceremony and everything FREE, or come after their wedding and stay for a week in the honeymoon suit for FREE. Both easily a $1000 value. Wow.

We all promptly informed James and Car that we were coming on their honeymoon with them!

The last part of the evening was the traditional Fijian kava ceremony. Kava is a slightly narcotic drink made from a root that is ground into powder. It looks sort of like muddy dishwater, but it tastes like peppery or spicy tea. Not like chai, but spicy tea. It’s not something I’d enjoy every day, but it was interesting. John was made chief for the ceremony, and there was a lot of clapping involved. A minute or two after drinking, my lips and mouth went tingly-numb, and about five minutes later, feeling came back. That was about it. Maybe it was the alcohol (2 happy hour drinks, 3 glasses of champagne), or maybe that really was all, but I didn’t feel anything more. James F reported that all the kava did to him was to make him very relaxed and sleep very well that night. So maybe that was it. It was still a pretty cool ceremony.

All in all, probably maybe our best day in Fiji.

And we were all glad they found that lovin’ feelin’. Awwwww!

Part 5
Part 6

So after my mom’s oncologist told me to start bothering my doctors about getting mammogram screening, I did so. Back in January? February?

Student Health referred me to the Breast Cancer Clinic here at the hospital. Their genetic counselor called me up and we chatted for awhile, and finally, last week (August, please note), I had my appointment.

The basic take-home message was that they don’t recommend screening until I’m 35, but at that point, I’d have a very low threshold for testing beyond a digital mammogram. This is good news. I’ve passed it on to Amy.

Even better news: Based on my family history and the fact that the two people who’ve been tested are negative for the BRCA mutations, I’ve got a 15% chance of developing breast cancer over my lifetime. Normal risk is 10-12%. So 15%? A damn good number. A number I can live with.

****

My mom’s meeting with the surgeon today, and the radiologist tomorrow. She’s got a month of daily radiation ahead of her. I need some airline to magically offer me a free ticket to go home again, and a rational to give to my boss about another week off. I hate not being there.

****

Elizabeth and I met up for coffee for the first time in a couple months. We’re going riding this weekend and then dinner with the boys, which I’m looking forward to a lot. Also, a mutual friend from high school is coming to visit her, and we’ll all get together for dessert or coffee or something. It’ll be good times.

****

Nate and Shelly are having a house warming party this weekend. They keep insisting they don’t need anything to “warm their house”. I feel the need to take something. I’ll make them cookies, but I’d also like to get them something wacky and gag-gift-ish. The first thing that comes to mind is TP. Anyone else have any thoughts?

****

Getting back into work after being gone for most of July is pretty hard. But things are finally ramping up. I’m not sure this is good, but it does mean I have stuff to do instead of stalking Facebook and blogs. However, I’m more convinced than ever that I just don’t want to do this. It isn’t making me happy. Anyone wanna pay me to be a scuba bum?

****

Speaking of Facebook, we found the diver chick from this past weekend, who we’ll hopefully be going diving with soon in an attempt to convince her we’re the cooler people to dive with. She seems pretty awesome, and we had fun talking with her Saturday for the hour or so we were all in the hot tub, so this shouldn’t be too hard.

****

Amy’s birthday is in two weeks. I need to get her a present. I have two ideas, but she’s also moving to Boston for school, so I’d like to get her something to help make the transition smooth. What do you need to move into your first apartment ever? With roommates you don’t know? In a town you don’t know? If only I had money for a plane ticket.

****

My best friend from childhood is getting married in October, right after John and I get home from our vacation. He can’t get the weekend off, and I don’t want to go by myself, as I’m not likely to know ANYONE but her. I either need to suck it up and go, or find a good excuse not to. Though money itself is likely to be a damn good excuse, as flying there Saturday and coming home Sunday will cost me at least $500 when you throw in the hotel and car. Again with the money for a plane ticket…

We flew to Florida Saturday for the wedding of our high school friend Dave and his fiance Jeannie.

Dave and I go way back, all the way back to middle school. We dated for 2 and 1/2 years in high school–he was my first love. We were “that couple” in high school, the ones that were going to be together forever. Dave was the sort of person that everyone liked, and he did wonderful things for my self-esteem and my outlook on life. He probably rescued me from myself at times.

Our break-up, just after his first year of college and my senior graduation, was messy, to say the least. Neither of us handled it particularly well, and in the months that followed, I missed him terribly. I had John, who was incredibly supportive when I needed to cry on his shoulder about my ex. For that, I will always love John. Within 6 months of our break-up, we (Dave and I) were speaking again, and eventually fell back into friendship.

Three years ago, he was in our wedding as a groomsman. Two years ago, he came to visit us with his new girlfriend, Jeannie. She’s this tiny, adorable little thing, and the two of them are perfect for one another.

I know it sounds weird and silly, but John and I were so happy, and Dave just kept looking for his One, and I always felt a little bit guilty for having moved on and found someone to be happy with when he hadn’t. He’d clearly moved on, but hadn’t found his Someone yet. And now? Now I’m just excited for them.

I will admit that the 16-year-old in me is a bit nostalgic for that “perfect couple” and what was supposed to have been. Not in a sense of wishing that it had been, but feeling sad for that part of myself that so long ago wanted it so badly. But lives change and move on, and mine went in the direction of John and his went, somewhat indirectly, in the direction of Jeannie.

The live in Florida now, where he’s in school and she’s about to go back to school. They’re talking of trying to have a baby soon. He will, without a doubt, be one of the best dads ever. And she’ll make a pretty darn good mom, too.

So we went to their wedding–I was nervous about being “the ex” and about whether or not she truly didn’t mind me there, much less in their lives or his life. They came to visit us, like I said, but other than sporadic calls and emails over the years, we haven’t seen them. We’d wanted to visit for longer, to spend some time there with them, but as I told Dave, I just love my mom more than the two of them, and so spent the time with her instead.

We got to the hotel about 12:30pm Sunday morning, checked in, and hit the hay. The next morning we wandered around town, had breakfast, bought sunscreen, and just killed time. Then headed to the beach for the wedding.

Keep in mind it was about 95 degrees, and the humidity was probably above 85%. It was hot. The straightening of the hair? Was totally not necessary. It curled crazily, and then the beach wind blew it all about. Luckily, I’d had the forethought to toss a hair clip in the back seat of the rental car.

At the beach, there were a number of people clearly dressed for a wedding and not a beach party, but no chairs or anything. We didn’t know anyone, though we did confirm we were their for the same wedding, so when they all set off down the beach, we followed, assuming they knew where they were going. After walking about 20 minutes (we were now 10 minutes late for the wedding, but figured the 30 or so of us probably constituted a good chunk of the wedding guests), someone finally called Dave, who answered. Turns out the wedding was back where we had started, and they were running late.

Dave and Jeannie and their families did all the set-up and take-down of both the wedding and reception themselves, and they’d been working on the reception site until the last minute. We got back in time to help set up chairs, the arch, and the tent. At which point the minister had to be at another wedding (to whom the bride and groom never showed, go figure), so everything was postponed an hour and a half, or a total of 2.5 hours.

Dave was, to say the least, a bit stressed by the whole endeavor. I’m sure Jeannie was, too, but she was back at the house waiting in the air conditioning.

We sat in the shade of the tent, talking with him and the two groomsmen we did know, for the next hour. We also met Jeannie’s grandma, a lovely, funny woman.

Then, with the skies darkening and the lightening and thunder starting, we had ourselves a wedding.

Jeannie looked beautiful. I started tearing up the moment the whole thing started. I never actually bawled, but there were some tears. The minister was great at inserting jokes to relieve the tension caused by the delay and the approaching storm, and the whole thing was beautiful. A bit overly God-y, but beautiful.

Afterwards, nearly all the guests carried their chairs back to the parking lot, where they were stowed in Jeannie’s brother’s car and our rental SUV (tip: when you reserve a compact car, and they don’t have one, you get a free upgrade! That said, the Jeep Patriot is a crummy, crummy car!). We all hightailed it out of the parking lot just as the rain started to spatter down.

Like I told Jeannie, it’s good luck to have rain on your wedding day, and it was the perfect way to have it–we didn’t actually get wet, and it had stopped again by the time we got to the beach house that was serving as the reception site.

There, we set up all the chairs. The busy work was good because we felt helpful, but also meant we didn’t have to stand around awkwardly when we didn’t know any of their Florida friends or her friends from Iowa. The ones we did know were up at the head table. Ah, well.

The reception was 2.5 hours late starting, so most of us pounced on the food. Jeannie’s grandma joked that the bride and groom should eat first but she was just too hungry! It was a good buffet, and the house was gorgeous.

If you’ve got an extra $6 million laying around, I know a house you can buy. Lots of bedrooms, a pool, big kitchen, beautiful backyard, deck and dock, swimming platform, the works. Not on the beach, but the works nonetheless.

Then there was dancing, drinking, cake, champagne, swimming in the pool (for some), and lots of talking. I greeted all of Dave’s relatives, most of whom I’d already met. I talked for a long time with both his parents, his sister and his aunt. Most of his family came from South America, and not all of them speak a lot of English, but enough that they all greeted me and kissed my cheek–I think I got more cheek kisses than ever before! His family is a very lovely group of people, and it was nice to see them again.

Jeannie and I had a chance to talk at one point, and she reassured me that she really did like me and didn’t mind me at all, which was lovely. I told her that if she every wanted to talk about being newly married (most of their friends aren’t, so we’re the only ones who’ve been through what they’re about to do/have just done recently), I’d be happy to talk with her. I also invited them to come visit us again sometime soon, and received the same invitation in reverse.

She really is one of those incredibly sweet people, and they are so good for one another. It was, I have to say, a perfect wedding, even if it did have some hitches in the beginning. In a year, they’ll laugh about it, even if it caused stress at the time.

We were disappointed to not stay longer in Florida in general, or at the party, but we hung out at the house until 11pm, about the time it was just the Florida people, most of whom were drunk and in the pool. Figuring we didn’t know them and didn’t need to see the likely results of drunks in a pool, we said our good-byes (more tears) and left. It was tough, but I’m sure we’ll see them again, though it may be another two years.

Then it was back to Iowa on Monday, where it was cloudy and rainy again.

The basement, when we woke up this morning, was no damper than it was last night, which was a relief. I’m with my mom for her chemo now, and then we’ll have a nice lunch somewhere and make our way to the airport to head back to California. More good-byes, but I’ll be home again soon. In just about 5 weeks, actually.

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