Days in the Moment

Yesterday I got terribly lost in Indiana. I missed the sign for the detour for I-65 and ended up somewhere near the Port of Indiana. I got off the highway and pulled into a Denny’s parking lot next to a Day’s Inn. I snagged a wireless signal from the motel with my laptop, figured out where I was, called Justin and figured out how to get to the wedding site from where I was. I headed through the cornfields and realized I was running very low on gas. Mile after mile of maize without so much as a drop of ethanol to be found. I drifted into the park on fumes and into the rehearsal twenty minutes after it started. Everything got better after that.

I drove back home after the rehearsal dinner and looked in on the Mayweather’s cats and wrote the sermon. I got some sleep and drove back down. Traffic was much better on Saturday afternoon and I didn’t miss the detour. I got to the site, a lovely little park, and I spent a half hour transcribing the ceremony from my laptop to longhand. I found the wedding party taking photographs in clearing near the gazebo where the ceremony would take place. Everyone was in good spirits.

Lara came down as my guest for the wedding. She had the same problems I did the night before. But she made just in time. I met her at her car and walked with her to where everyone was gathered and as soon as we reached the groomsmen I turned and walked up with them to the gazebo. The sun was brilliant and shining directly into my eyes. I sorely wished I could have put on my sunglasses but I just didn’t feel that would be appropriate.

M & J both looked great. Watching her walk through the sunlight to her husband to be was like watching a Monet move. I love perfoming weddings. The ceremony is a very special moment. It’s a like a reverse eclipse where everything is bathed in light while the world pauses its spin. I spoke the invocation impromptu and can’t recall exactly what I said, but later Lara and Mattttt teased me lightly about it. It was enough, however, to bring tears to J’s eyes. One of the kids read from Velveteen Rabbit and then Miss Mayweather gave a great reading from Madeline L’Engle’s ‘The Irrational Season’. Then I gave my sermon and they exchanged the vows they wrote. I came up with something quick for the ring exchange that I liked.  
Circles are never ending, never beginning in their form. This ring is a symbol of my love.
Wear it and be wed to me.
Gold is precious and rare. This ring is a symbol of my love.
Wear it and be wed to me.
Then I gave the benediction I give at every wedding I perform and pronounced them man and wife.

Afterwards, Lara, Matttt and Jen and I ended up at a folksy deli across from where the reception was held while we waited for the reception to begin. We were starving so Lara and I split a gyro and fries while Matt and Jen had fries and a spinach puff. We discussed politics and Palin, prompted by the Fox Noise pouring from the tv set nearby. The banter was lively.

 Lara and I had a great talk before dinner. It’s amazing how intimate a conversation can be when you are surrounded by people and loud music. She’s moving to Vermont this Friday and I don’t know when I’ll see her again, and as her relationship with Gordon progresses I don’t know if we’ll ever have another opportunity to spend time like this together so I was profoundly grateful that she made the trip to Crown Point for the day. I don’t believe that we are at the end of our story but we have finished more than a chapter; we are begining a new book that is as yet unwritten.

We were seated at the head table but somehow managed to get mediocre service; the only food that made it to my plate was a chicken breast and some potatoes. Despite begging the servers Lara only got a chance to taste the squash ravioli because Miss Mayweather shared with her. After dinner we danced for a while and it was sublime. I just drank her in and relished the moment, grateful that despite everything we have been through we still found our way back to being graceful with each other. I understand myself better now, and I think she understands herself better as well. She will always be the most important person in the room to me, her voice will always cut through any cacophony to find my ear, her happiness will always be my concern. But I have come to see that her happiness (and perhaps more crucially, my own) depends upon my being able to let her go to pursue the life she wants. She went to her high school reunion last weekend and told me about a creepy creature who followed her around all night, staring and snapping pictures endlessly,  a sad little man who I remember as a sad little boy. She described who he is now and I saw myself in him and I felt a combination of repulsion and sympathy like I imagine Frodo felt for Gollum. I can’t scorn his desperate obsession when I know what stirs in me when I glimpse her across the room, but I don’t have to lock myself in a cage of my own desires next to his. What she needs from me is to be her friend, not to be another man seeking to possess her.

She left around ten. I walked her to her car and then sat on the courthouse steps and had a cigarette. A big man with a shaved head, piercings and tattoos who looked to be in his mid forties came out and joined me. He said, ‘You’re the first preacher I’ve ever seen in combat boots.’
I smiled and said, ‘Steel toes are handy for kicking the devil’s ass.’
The truth is that they are the most comfortable footwear I own. There’s a certain affectation to them as they are beat up and worn in, but this also makes them perfect for days like this. His name was Dave and we fell into conversation and he told me a version of his life story that I imagine people who think they know him well probably haven’t heard. We talked about struggling with sobriety and substances. I actually had a few drinks earlier with Lara but I had cut myself off hours earlier. I generally don’t drink at all but since it has been about ten years since the last time I drank myself insensate I occasionally indulge myself socially with a glass of wine or beer. Naturally, as this was an evening where I had two rum and cokes (the first hard liquor I’ve drunk in years), I found myself hearing the testimony of an alcoholic who was nine years sober. It was an edifying conversation. In the midst of it some partygoer stumbled through mumbling incoherent nonsense and we directed them back inside away from traffic. In the country of the drunk, the sober man is king.

I went back in and hung out with the Port Awesome crew. Miss Mayweather was wearing a goregous ensable that looked like it came from the costume department of ‘Mad Men’. Mr Mayweather and I chuckled over Lara’s mortification at mistaking him for the groom. Miss Isabelle made her own dress that was a coolly beautiful shade of emerald with a tiny skull and crossbones motif for the buttons that adorned it. Mr Isabelle and I discussed the need for maps and geography when teaching history. I danced with Andrea for about a half hour with the ladies while her husband talked to the rest of the boys. This summer she had minor surgery that resulted in a blood clot causing her to suffer a stroke at the tender age of 41. She looked fabulous and you wouldn’t know that there had been a problem except for the cane she was using to get around. She was still blind in her left eye but the doctors said that she could still recover her vision. She set her cane aside and let me lead while she leaned lightly on me. By this time the band had finished and we were dancing to a laptop plugged into the sound system. Perhaps the best thing about the mp3 age is that it will bring an end to wedding dj’s once and for all.

Boxes of White Castle Sliders had arrived as I was leaving. Everyone was pretty much spending the night at the hotel but as I get older I find I prefer going to greater lengths to get a night’s sleep in my own bed. The soundtrack for the ride home was full of cover versions of familiar songs chosen randomly by my Ipod: Ministry doing ‘Lay Lady Lay’, Ozzy singing ‘All the Young Dudes’, Johnny Cash playing ‘Hurt’, Mott the Hoople rocking ‘Sweet Jane’, Siouxsie singing ‘Dear Prudence’, the Ramones covering ‘Street Fighting Man’. The only original I got the entire ride was ‘Polyester Bride’ by Liz Phair which seemed oddly appropriate. When I got home I went upstairs to look in on the kitties and watch last weeks ‘Mad Men’ and to start writing this.

3 Responses to “Days in the Moment”

  1. Thank you for making me feel like I was there with you. It sounds like an incredible night. I hope that our wedding (wherever it ends up being, lol) has a combination of the magic of all the joyous ceremonies you’ve presided over!

  2. You came up, but you should expect that. Wherever we gather, you are there.

  3. Lily-
    I completely neglected to mention the lovely design of everything, from the wrapping of the wedding party’s gifts to the delightful party favors of spider rings, glow sticks, and vampire teeth. A wide variety of pumpkins complimented the place settings and their were boxes of amazing truffles at every table. You would have loved it.

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