Friday, September 18, 2009

In which we attend the Second Wedding....

The dictionary definition of "Wedding" is: "the marriage ceremony with its attendant festivities." Pretty broad. (Or - I suppose one could say that's sometimes a feature of a wedding, a "pretty broad"; sorry, there's no excuse for that. I'm going to sit in time-out now, one minute for every year of my age. See you tomorrow.)

But the second wedding has turned into more than a lovely collection of memories, more than thinking back on a nice event and time spent with good friends. The second wedding has opened a window, allowed a glimpse, and then opened a previously-unknown door behind which I've found a new delight. Let me explain:

First - it was in Columbus, Ohio, home of a beautiful replica of Columbus' Santa Maria and the home of our longt-time good friends, J and M. They're reenactors too - for the most part, their era is a good century before ours: the 17th century. Think Plimoth Plantation. M works very much in the 21st century and is probably the most computer-literate person I know. J works for a company that publishes darling and very popular little cookbooks.

Furthermore, M looks as perfect in his 17th century garb as one can. He has long hair, a neat little pointed beard, and is the very image of one of Columbus' men as I can picture. J is one of those merry little women whose skill with a needle would vie with any of her sisters of the earlier century, and when "decked out" they present a most admirable picture. I met them years ago (perhaps 18?) on line, in a realtime chat room on Compuserve, and to this day I "meet" J once a week for an hour's gab. (We're joined by at least one of the other original members too, and even though it's only one hour out of my busy life I look forward to it eagerly and miss it when I have to miss.)

OK - these people have a daughter, L. Years ago when we occasionally got together "F2F" L and I would play together with our American Girl dollies. She was a child then, and I was.....well, me. Anyway let me say that the child of these creative, historical, talented and artistic people (did I mention that M plays with a Celtic band and is a self-taught brilliant fiddler?) is herself a unique girl and always has been. In her young adult life her personal style has been what might be called "artistic punk" -- she's an individual and I love her style.

Well! She attended college and emerged with credentials in things like "Computer-Generated Images" and that sort of thing (all beyond my 66-year-old comprehension but VERY 21st century artistic). She loves anime, manga - that sort of thing.

During the last couple of years, it seems she met a girl living in London (online) and they became fast friends - and then more. C came from London to spend some time in Columbus....I think over Christmas, perhaps...and they discovered that their connection was real and true - and they became engaged. My reaction? Couldn't deny the truth: L wasn't a little girl any more and I'd have to find another girlie to play dolls with. Also I was delighted because I love this girl, and knowing that she had truly found a soulmate was very satisfying. The whole online thing? It's the 21st century and MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE has been that everyone I've ever met has been "exactly as advertised" and I've enjoyed meeting people and becoming friends with no preconceived ideas about them based on prejudices of appearance. I believe - I know - that you can come to know someone really well without ever laying actual eyes on them.......and I'd have to say I don't think I know anyone whose feelings of friendship would be changed at the sight of the person "F2F".

OK, I'll set aside my soapbox - but as I do, I'll comment that I really think eventually these innerwebs will allow for friendships across geographic and time lines and prejudices about physical attributes will diminish and there will be peace. Not in my lifetime, but you know - I think it's out there.

Back to the second wedding. As it turns out, it really WAS a "second wedding"; not only the second we attended this summer, but the second for the Darling Girls. You see, they were married in Britain (if memory serves, they had a lovely site in Ireland) with C's family present - and because we're still behind the Motherland in some ways here in the Colonies, their union is recognized there. But they - and WE (L's family and friends) were delighted when plans were made for them to have a wedding here so that WE could witness and share their joy.

The wedding was held at the Center for Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus; we didn't get to explore the whole place, but the portion reserved for the wedding is a large hands-on area sort of like a set for Indiana Jones -- all rocky mazes and a stone castle tower and so on.

Now ... there was another element to this wedding, which was absolutely NEW to Mr Dearling and me. We were told to wear our 19th century apparel, because the theme, the flavor, the soul of this wedding was to be -- STEAM PUNK! We had no idea what that meant; we had never heard those two words together in a context. We dressed, we went to the COSI, we found the site -- and discovered that almost everyone (elder relatives excused) were in costume, and we were introduced to this "Steam Punk". We saw Victorian clothing, we saw leather helmets (think aviator). We saw corsets and frills and lace.

The wedding itself was brief and lovely - the officiant was well-spoken, the vows clear and the mood merry and reverent and FUN! When the ceremony was over there were pictures and we were allowed to examine the fabulous environs. We then repaired to the nearby Spaghetti Warehouse (apparently a chain; wonder how we could lobby for one here?) where we all sat down to an absolutely DELICIOUS dinner! There was cake (two kinds, and yes I tried both - in spite of being VERY full I couldn't resist and didn't regret it).

To summarize the Wedding portion of our trip, it was as different from the Montana wedding as it could be in pretty much every way. And yet - it was every bit as wonderful, romantic, delightful and endearing in every way. I LOVED meeting C, who strikes me as the other part of the puzzle piece that is L; seeing the girls together was such fun. Born on opposite sides of the ocean, but of an age, they complement each other. They're MODERN, they're now, they're the 21st century where technology and romance are blended. It was a revelation.

Mr Dearling was absolutely INTRIGUED with the whole concept of Steam Punk and could hardly wait to get home and talk about it to the Lovely Daughter - I think her only surprise was that we'd never encountered it before. She's really a 20th century girl, but entered the 21st young enough to "get with it".

And me? Well let me tell YOU, ladies and gennulmens. If I had were 20 years old now I would SO be there. Everything about Steam Punk appeals - I've been listening to the music on Pandora since we got home. I would LOVE to dress that way -- although I have no delusions and will continue the Happy Hippie that I am (I can hear the Lovely Daughter's sigh of relief from here). But from my perspective, the introduction to this Steam Punk thing has been like a little gift -- and of course, once you discover something you recognize that it's been there all along. "Wild, Wild West" can be nothing else (what a great movie) and I'd have to say, so is "Stardust", one of my favorites. I think one reason I like the whole ... what does Wiki call it? Subculture ... is because it's PRETTY. The clothing styles are colorful and interesting and fun. The whole punk-torn-jeans-dirty-shirts deal didn't do it for me.

The rest of the visit, by the way, included meeting for the first time another longtime online friend, a fellow reenactor too but of the Civil War persuasion -- she picked me up at our motel at 11:00 pm the night before the wedding and we found an all-night eatery and stayed up knitting and gabbing and enjoying until she brought me back about 4:30 am! (Lucky I have no Circadian rhythm; had no ill effects at all.)

And the day after the wedding M and J took us to the (really truly) world-famous Columbus Zoo, where we saw for ourselves the darling wee baby elephant from Zooborns playing with his blue beachball and a LOT of other things; the enclosures for the animals are absolutely grand. Every animal we saw looked relaxed and content - and the huge bears told me (I can communicate with bears, you know) that the food's great, the accommodations perfection - and they have a great health care plan.

You've no doubt noticed the absence of pictures -- well, there ARE some, and I WILL post them, with minimal text (having said it all here). But right now I'm going to put on "Abney Park" on You Tube.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In which we attend the First Wedding....

Now that I've decided to just reminisce about "My Summer Vacation" and not be bound by chronology, &c, I want to describe two entirely happy events I enjoyed, the first in July, the second in August.

I'm a fan of weddings; Mr Dearling is fond of saying we both really appreciate them; after all, between us we've had five of 'em. (Arf arf, it is to larf.) The adventure with Willie wasn't your typical failed marriage, of course - and had the Fates rearranged their strands I expect we'd be together yet. But they did rearrange the strands. Hmm...entrelac, perhaps? No - clearly Fair Isle. Oh bosh.

My second marriage was a hippie experience, and I did learn from it. And had that not occurred I wouldn't have my Youngest, my #2 Son, my Descendant of Vikings, and he's reward beyond any unpleasantness.

And regarding Mr Dearling? Well, I'm a believer in Karma, and all's I can say is, I must have plucked the toddler Jesus out of the path of a Roman chariot and returned Him to His mother absolutely unharmed - and my reward is that Mr Dearling happened along in the perfect place at the perfect time. (I know how she must've felt; we Jewish Mothers are all alike.)

SO! Two weddings. Both were, as described, the joining of two loving souls, in exceptional surroundings, amidst groups of very diverse people who shared but one thing in common: a sincere love for the youngsters and an appreciation of the privilege of being called upon to act as witness.

The first was in Montana, surrounded by the beauty of the mountains. This was taken between our hotel and the site of the ceremony. (OK, so there were sheep there too; enhanced the whole scene for me.) It was in the afternoon, in a little area next to a small restaurant. There was a stage area and a barbecue area....chairs had been set up and behind them tables were set beneath canopies. Following the ceremony a dinner was served from the barbecue, and one of the choices was a grilled salmon. It was heavenly. Heavenly.

The bride is the daughter of dear friends. She's a college graduate and has been happily employed working in the parks doing things like clearing and improving the paths, maintaining the trails, &c. Her parents and "our side" tend toward the academic and Madisonian - and her sister is a professor in Nebraska. The groom is her fellow worker and his people come from Missouri, as I gather it. I'm not sure what their daily lives are like, as Mr Dearling and I had never before seen any of them at all. In fact, we had only met the young husband on one other occasion.
NOTE: we'd been invited to an alleged engagement party to meet him - which was actually a surprise 40th Wedding Anniversary party for our friends, engineered by their daughters.

As I took my seat, I realized that the two groups of people would likely never have crossed paths, conversed or met -- but the Darling Children of each family had met and fallen love, thus drawing together this gathering of diverse people.

As you can see, the dress was casual and the company congenial. A friend of the couple played beautiful music, and the officiant was also their friend - there had been a question about whether he would be able to perform the ceremony, as he was awaiting a call to go join his fellow firefighters at a site in the mountains.

The youngsters had sent out a request by email, in advance: following a lovely tradition, they had selected seven people to write a prayer for their wedding, to be read aloud during the ceremony.

WE had been honored with the privilege of writing a prayer. I've had a variety of honors through my life, but I have to say, I was deeply moved by the request.

As the wedding began, the prayers were read. The first was from the bride's grandmother, Charlotte. Charlotte is a fantastic and beautiful "New York Jew" - she lived all her life in the city but now, in her 90s (you'd never believe it to see her) she lives in Madison. She wasn't able to travel to the wedding, but recorded her message, and it was loving and strong and thoughtful. I love Charlotte - we see her when we celebrate Chanukah and Passover with her family. Hearing her voice was NEXT-BEST to having her there. The other prayers were delivered by members of his family and her family (her sister's was particularly endearing) - and last, Mr Dearling read our prayer. It was a joint effort - I wrote it, he read it (in his superb storyteller's voice).

This is The Moment.

They are now married, and live in Livingston among the mountains, working in the beauty of the mountains. At this moment one could feel the affection and delight flowing toward them from every person there. Many of their dear and close friends and colleagues who live there make up their circle, and will provide the security and network on behalf of all who love them.

The weather was lovely - it was a bit overcast but warm, and there were a bunch of dogs dancing and chasing around the crowd, adding to the general air of festivity.

The meal was delicious and the company terrific! We enjoyed with a lot of the lad's family and enjoyed watching the little children running and playing, and listening to the extraordinary music - and admiring the newlyweds.

We've learned something in our own 23 years of a blissful, companionable and close marriage: couples who are married , truly joined, lean together to speak, and touch one another from time to time - just a pat on the arm or a brushing of hands. We've observed this in many couples we know to be "well-married" (and had the same between us pointed out by friends). And we saw these youngsters doing the same. This is not the hand-holding and hugging and embracing of courting couples or NEW newlyweds; these are the tender connections...almost unconscious...of the truly-married.

The next morning there was a lovely breakfast at the hotel we stayed at, and we got another opportunity to share in the fine company of all of these people and the young couple one more time before we all - and they - resumed the gentle flow of their daily lives with all of its components.

For our part -- our adventure continued with a few days of car repair (enjoyed in Livingston), my first-ever visit to Yellowstone (including knitting at Old Faithful and a very close viewing of a handsome young grizzly...details will follow) and then our journey back through Dakota (including a visit to Wall Drug; oh come ON, you can't drive through South Dakota and not get your free drink of cold water at Wall Drug!!). That's a story for another time, as it deserves a few lines.

Here are a few more pictures of the lovely, friendly and totally wonderful mountain wedding; I will then describe the SECOND wedding in ITS separate post, in order to do it equal justice:

The First Dance

The son dances with his mother....

The daughter dances with her father.

A wonderful time was had by all - and a new household is born. And they are creative, clever, good-humored stewards of the lands around them, for the benefit of us all.