I was jolted out of a sound sleep at six o’clock this morning by the ringing of an alarm clock. I lay on my back for a moment, heart pounding, eyes wide open, desperately trying to clear the cobwebs from my head and figure out what day it was. I heard Mark ask me, “What’s wrong?” With much relief, I realized it was only Sunday. He had to go to work, but I didn’t.
After he left for work, I tried but couldn’t drift off again. Of course, after an awakening like that one, it was impossible to go back to sleep. I slipped out from under the covers and padded to the family room to peek out the windows. The sun was shining and it looked like a good day for a run, so I quickly changed and slipped out the door while the kids still slept.
The weather over the course of the past few days has not been ideal or even typical for this time of year. It’s been gloomy, windy and has rained off and on. In fact, on Saturday, the wind was nearly gale force and temperatures were downright cold. I was relieved this morning to find the wind had died down. It was still a little on the chilly side, but I almost prefer that when I run. With my back feeling so much better, I feel like I’ve finally found my groove again with the running. I found my pace today for the first time in months and had an incredible run. I feel SO good!
I was concerned that the weather was going to ruin an important day this weekend. Our next door neighbors, Kevin and Kelsey got married on Saturday. Mark and I were the only ones in the neighborhood to be invited to the wedding so we felt kind of honored. Kevin and Kelsey are young; just a few years out of college, but we get along great with them. And since they’re so young, they’ve connected well with our kids too; especially Kevin and Brad since they’re so close in age. When our old neighbors moved out of the house a couple years ago, we worried. We were very close with the old neighbors and didn’t think we’d be lucky enough to get more great neighbors, but Kevin and Kelsey proved us wrong.
I hoped the weather wouldn’t ruin their big day. Early in the morning it was partly cloudy and the wind was relentless. Thankfully, the sun eventually prevailed and it turned out to be a beautiful wedding day. The temperatures, however, weren’t quite what I’d normally expect in mid-May. There were a couple of dresses I contemplated wearing to the wedding, but since both dresses have spaghetti straps, I knew I would freeze. I opted for a long sleeve blouse and some favorite Express dress pants instead. And since it’s a rare occasion when we’re both dressed up, pictures had to be taken.
The wedding was beautiful. And it wasn’t just beautiful in the sense that everyone looked great and the ceremony went off without a hitch. It was beautiful in the sense that the love Kevin and Kelsey feel for each other was tangible. I can honestly say that there have been few times in my life that I have felt that way when attending a wedding.
A couple hours after the ceremony, we headed to the reception, which was held in downtown Stillwater, a beautiful and very historic town. As Mark drove, I provided directions to the banquet hall. As I read the directions, I realized that we would arrive slightly early- the first hour was a social hour. I was slightly apprehensive, knowing we would know no one other than the bride and groom and didn’t want to arrive too early. I’m not great with meeting new people and tend to be rather introverted in unfamiliar surroundings. So we found a place to park in a nearby lot and decided just to hang out in the car and listen to tunes for a while before going in.
We were parked in a lot, facing a cement wall that was alternately patterned with smooth and textured surfaces. I was chewing gum and enjoying the music when I got a sudden urge to do something. I looked over at Mark and said, “I bet I can throw my gum at that wall and make it stick.”
I do things like this on occasion to see if I can get a rise out of Mark, but apparently he is way too used to my antics. Anyone else would shake their head at such a proposal from a forty-something woman, all dressed up, who’s supposed to be acting like a grown up. Not Mark.
“Go for it,” he said.
So I rolled down my window, took my gum from my mouth and launched it with all my might. The gum hit on a textured part of the wall and stopped dead in its tracks. I pulled my arm back in the car, looked at Mark and cheered, “YES!” And then just as I looked back to survey my accomplishment, it dropped off and fell right to the asphalt below. DAMN! Mark egged me on, and talked me into trying it twice more. I failed two more times to make my gum stick before we decided we should head over to happy hour.
The reception hall was packed and I suggested we go to the bar and grab a beer before finding a place to sit. As I suspected, we knew no one, so we found an empty table, enjoyed our beers, talked and did some fine people watching. I noted that young women wearing dresses seem to be unaware of the value of wearing a slip underneath for smoothing and discretionary purposes. I wanted to dispense fashion advice to them, as well as the woman whose muffin top needed some camouflaging, but you’ll be happy to know I refrained.
Soon an older couple looking just as isolated as we felt hesitantly approached our table and asked if the open seats were taken. We assured them they were not and welcomed them to sit down. Steve and Cindy introduced themselves as “fringe” relatives and seemed nice enough. Steve appeared to be in his sixties while Cindy appeared a bit younger; probably in her fifties. They mentioned that they lived in Milwaukee and for a while we talked about “the lake” (Lake Michigan) and they described the extreme snowfall their area has experienced over the past couple winters.
As the evening went on, we ate dinner and Steve explained that he was a step-brother to Kevin’s grandfather. He pointed out various people and tried to explain their relationships to Kevin. But poor Steve would confuse Kevin’s placement in the family with Kevin’s father and would accidentally describe one of Kevin’s cousins as Kevin’s nephew, instead. At times like these, Cindy would scornfully correct Steve and he would quickly correct his mistake. This went on and on throughout dinner and Cindy’s sharp tongue became evident as she admonished him for things like talking about horse racing because, “Just because you’re a sports fanatic doesn’t mean these people are interested in horse racing.” Mark assured Cindy he was interested, though not very familiar, so he welcomed the conversation.
I felt immensely sorry for Steve during the groom’s speech. Kevin’s words were heartfelt and at one point he said, “I want to thank my beautiful bride for saying ‘yes’ to what was probably the worst marriage proposal in the history of the world.” I saw Cindy smack Steve on the leg and say, “I don’t think so. I think your proposal was the worst marriage proposal ever!” Steve merely looked down and tried to pretend that none of us could have possibly heard her. I made a mental note of my occasional habit of sinking to sarcasm in my words and vowed to bite my tongue more often. I don’t want to grow up to be Cindy.
We tried to enjoy the evening as much as possible. The bride and groom made an announcement that every couple in attendance had their names written on a slip of paper and all were placed in a bowl at the head table. Each time a round of clinking glasses was heard, rather than the traditional display of the groom kissing the bride, they would draw a slip from the bowl. The couple whose names were announced would have to stand up and show Kevin and Kelsey how to kiss. This was great fun. Young and old couples alike were put on display and I couldn’t help but smile at them all. Young couples put on shows of dramatic passion but I especially loved the older couples who displayed their affection for one another as if they were young and newly in love. Mark grinned at Steve and said, “I won’t complain if my name is called.”
Cindy interjected, “I will if mine is called.”
Steve looked at her and said, “I can’t have a kiss?”
Cindy seemed to realize her abrasiveness for a moment and conceded, “Yes, you can have a kiss, baby.” Regardless, none of our names were called. That was probably a good thing. I was afraid to see how Cindy would respond to having to kiss Steve in front of everyone.
There was a beautiful, fun slide show set to music of Kevin and Kelsey through the years and I was relieved that Cindy was forced to stop talking. She and Steve announced their departure as soon as it was over. I looked at Mark and breathed a deep sigh of relief. We laughed and finished our beers and decided to call it a night ourselves. When we reached the car, Mark opened his door and looked across the top of the car at me before either of us climbed in. Without a word, he plucked his gum from his mouth and launched it at the wall. In the tradition of its predecessors, Mark’s gum promptly fell to the asphalt. We shrugged and went on our way.
As we made our way out of Stillwater, we were stopped for a traffic light and I noticed these street signs. They made me think of Steve and Cindy.