Married just over three weeks ago, Oliver and Simone are back now from their French Polynesian honeymoon - and from the pictures I've seen posted on Facebook, their time away was gorgeous. Simone has also recently been offered a new job, and will be starting that soon, so it's a time of new beginnings for my friend, and it's wonderful to watch - even if from the sidelines.
I've not written about their wedding before now because I tend to like things to settle in my mind a little bit before attempting to put them in to words, and with it being such an emotional event for me, that fact turned out to be even more the case - plus I'm just slow. I've thought a lot of that night, but haven't felt compelled to write about it yet, as I've just been savoring the memories when they've happened to appear. Truly though, the night of their wedding was one of the best of my life.
Equally as awesome as seeing Simone tie the knot, was reuniting with another of my best friends from back in the day - I'll call her Cody. Of all my friends, I've known her the longest. We met in seventh grade. She was a popular, cool kid, and as far as I could tell, had no business hanging out with the likes of me. So when we first started talking and laughing together in art class and she asked for my phone number, I was kind of suspicious. I gave her the number to the newspaper where my mother worked, knowing she'd just get a recording. But when she asked for it again the next day and I saw that she was sincere, I gave her the real one - and we ended up friends in no time. I've never laughed as hard or as much as I have with this girl. She's one of the weirdest, most beautiful, people that I know. And by weird, I just mean her sense of humor. She finds bizarre things funny like I do; we get each other that way. Recently out of the military, she's moved back to Dallas after being out of state and country for, I guess, it's been a decade. She's back now, though, and living with her boyfriend.
In my time of reclusion, my preferred way of staying in touch with my friends was through letter and email, but like most of my friends, Cody isn't too big on that, so we didn't always keep in touch as well as we could have. But now that we're "both" "back," we've been talking more, which I'm so glad about it. Although she and Simone weren't the closest of friends, they knew each other and had hung out before; they had me in common, which I'd say at the very least made them the best of acquaintances. I figured Cody would be the perfect date - and that going together would be a fun way for us to reunite.
She came over in late afternoon and after some hello's and having our pictures taken in the backyard, we went up to her parents house (whom I managed to keep in better touch with than I did Cody) and I got to see them again. Considering all of the time I spent there in high school, being in their house again after all these years was surreal - but very familiar, and very nice. On the car ride to the wedding and before the ceremony started, we laughed and talked. We walked down the old town's little main street, not far from where the wedding was taking place, and looked in a shop that sold, among other things, large piñatas. I was pleased - once again! - to see how our rhythm was pretty much the same, with her laughter stirring and sustaining mine - it was just the way it always has been.
With storm clouds in the distance, the wedding took place in a nearby town at a historical house that serves as both a bed and breakfast and place for holding receptions and special events. Simone, looking angelic, arrived in a horse-drawn carriage and was walked by her father down the aisle, which crossed the lawn where the guests were seated, and up to the steps and veranda where Oliver stood wiping away a tear or two. The reception took place in a connected hall and courtyard in the back. Cody with her beer and me my Chardonnay, around the grounds we walked and talked, eying the other guests. The newlyweds eventually appeared from a balcony above where they had their first dance and from where the bride threw her bouquet.
I said that their wedding night was one of the best nights of my life, and it's true - for the pure Love I felt all around me. Yes, I could mention the moments before Cody's arrival, how panicky I was to see her (and people) again, how displaced I felt - and even slightly taunted - by my strange, suit-wearing reflection. I could speak about the flashes of feeling and voice that told me I didn't belong. I could mention the minor dread I awkwardly sat through thanks to a stranger whom along with his family, randomly chose to sit at the same table as us, sizing us up with his probing, chit-chatty questions and intrusive gaze, made all the more remarkable appearing through his highly magnifying eye-glasses. And I could speak of how readily, easily I hit the bar. I could choose to focus on these things, but honestly, they don't deserve much thought, being only mere moments in an evening that was on the whole infused with happiness.
Far more worthy of my attention is all about the night that moved me - and with that, I could go on and on. What moved me was the bond I felt with Cody and how good it was to catch up with her and to hear about her life and love right now. What moved me was seeing Simone's sister and father, and mother again, whom I've written to over the years and who was especially glad to see that I chose to attend, how we hugged, how I told her the dark time was over now and how she agreed that darkness always disappears in to the Light if we'll but let it. What moved me was the courage(?) I had to introduce myself to a couple of Simone's friends, people I've heard about over the years - and the warm, kind reception they gave me, how they seemed genuinely glad to meet me too, the way they looked me in the eyes and how I was told how glad Simone would be that I was there. What moved me were all of the smiles and the palpable Connection radiating through space. What moved me was the way Simone sought me out in a room filled with so many people, to watch the slide show with her, and how I stood there beside her and her family as the images and music played. What moved me was being able after all of this time to meet and shake the hand of the man that means so much to this sister of mine. What moved me was the light rain and lightning that followed Cody and I on our drive home and how it lingered as we hung out at my house and talked. What moved me was knowing that I could do this, THIS. Life. Whatever this is. What moved me was how accepted and welcomed and lucky I felt. How loved I am.
During the ceremony, during the toasts, during my talk with Cody afterward - so many times over the course of the evening, I held back tears. My heart was swelling. When I got home and my fam asked me how it went, I'd open my mouth to speak, but couldn't get the words out without starting to tear up. I don't know if it was just sensory overload or what, but it was like Joy pulsing through my veins, Love being thrown at me from all directions. I'm not used to all of that. I did eventually let the tears fall - but only after Cody had left and it began to really rain.
I can only imagine what that night must have meant to Simone, but MY wedding night was amazing. The newlyweds aren't alone in having these new memories to cherish or in having many more to make.