Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear AnnaMo, Happy Birthday to you!
Yes, today is my cousin Anna’s birthday. She is a fabulous person, as well as a professional pilgrim. (No joke: she works at Plimoth Plantation.) She also gave me a whirlwind (and accidental) tour of the Boston area when she drove me home from my reading in Framingham a few weeks back and got us a bit lost. I love her, and today is her day. Have a good one, Anna!
Meanwhile, for the rest of us, it’s just Friday. Which is not a bad thing either. My wedding anniversary is this weekend, so I’ll be doing what I always do around this time of year, which is just be so freaking grateful that I am not planning a wedding. Don’t get me wrong: it was a lovely day, and I have great memories. But the year leading up to it? And making all the decisions, from what kind of cake to have to the photographer to the rehearsal dinner list? One word: agony. I am the most indecisive person in the world, constantly fretting about the ramifications of every choice I make, and let me tell you, if you’re like that, wedding planning is NOT for you. There are people who love this kind of stuff, who live for it, in fact. You see them on Oprah, weeping and talking about how they still put on their dress sometimes, and watch the wedding video, because the whole thing was Just So Fun. Not me. I was pretty much a nervous wreck from the day I set the date until the one two days before the wedding, when I finally handed over my blue folder with all the checklists and schedules and contracts to my cousin Lucy, who took it from there. Whew!
Now, I think back and wonder what else I could have done with all that time I spent agonizing over my dress and the appetizers. I mean, it was a year of my life! But truth be told, at the time, it was really important, if not THE most important thing. The place where we had our wedding is kind of close to here, and this time of year every weekend, when you drive by, there are balloons and signs out on the road, pointing people to a wedding that’s going on there. Seeing them always brings me back to that day, getting ready at the hotel, climbing in the car with Bianca, my maid of honor and only attendant, and doing my last ride as a single gal, together.
We went through town, which was kind of dead, because it was summer. When we were in high school, back in the day, we’d spent a lot of time in downtown Chapel Hill, hanging out in front of the Post Office, getting into trouble and waiting for something to happen. (What can I say, I wasn’t perfect, then or now.) There have always been kids in front of the Post Office in Chapel Hill, before us and for all these years after, and that day was no exception. We came up to the stoplight, and sure enough there was a pack of people sitting there, smoking cigarettes, looking disgruntled, just like we had in our time. As we passed, one of them, this guy with a bunch of piercings, glanced over at us and saw me sitting there in the passenger seat in my wedding dress, and my veil, you know, the whole shebang. I waved at him, and then waited for him to shoot me the bird, just because that’s probably what my friends would have done, back in the day. But instead, he raised his hand…and gave me the peace sign. Which was just so unexpected, and touching in a strange way, that I just stared back at him as we passed, sliding under the stoplight and moving on.
It’s just so odd, but I remember that SO well. Even better than so many details of the wedding itself. Getting married is one of those things that is fraught with sentimentality, and everyone’s always trying to catch the perfect moment that symbolizes this transition in your life. But sometimes, something happens all on its own, like that moment, and even though you don’t have it documented and tucked into an album, safe between pages, you don’t forget it. Six years later, or ever.
So if you’re getting married this weekend—or graduating, which is also a big life moment—I wish you good tidings, and good weather, and good times. But most of all, like that guy in front of the Post Office, I wish you peace. It goes a long way.