processing the new year

The morning after the wedding, we woke up and listened to this song in bed and thought about how happy we were and how perfectly the wedding went and how lucky we were to have these amazing friends and family who braved the rain and snow and winds and this strange waterfall that happens on our front steps when it pours outside.

I think the reason for the honeymoon is to come down from the wedding, to have uninterrupted time together to lean over and ask, “Did you hear about when…?” or “I didn’t hear that song when we walked out. Did they play it? Did anyone say?” or “Did you see her dress? Wasn’t it pretty?” because there’s so much to process. You have all these moments in your head and you want to share them and they’re really only important to the two of you.

You can read what Allison or dan or Omar or Andi or Sars said, because their words are beautiful, and I love hearing how other people felt at the wedding, getting other perspectives on the night, living it through their experiences. I want to hear all the stories of all the guests because I don’t want the memories to fade. And I’ll link to other stories if other guests write, as the Internet was in full attendance at this wedding.

It’s like being in a dream, is the best way to describe it. I’m walking on a street downtown (where I rarely go), and I’m with my sister and Jeff, and they’re talking. And then Chris pulls up and he’s just dropped off Vince and they’re talking about stee’s mother. And it’s a beautiful moment, seeing all of the different people in your life intersecting, communicating, interacting with each other. The chances of it happening again are so small, and it’s all for just this brief moment in time, and it’s all because they wanted to be there for us.

Or there are twenty people in our new home, this place that seems far to even those who live in Los Angeles, and they’re all still a little wet from the rain and the floor is muddy and the cats are confused and there’s beer and wine and laughter. Sara has just sharked every guy in poker. Tara and I, playing a very different game, rattle off all of the characters from Head of the Class, and while we were probably the only ones truly impressed with ourselves, it was still a moment I’ll always remember from that week, because where else am I going to sit on a couch with the only other person who remembers the word “Arvid?”

Forty people in a restaurant, reuniting, talking, drinking, our moms meeting for the first time, toasts given, tears shed, and the realization that the wedding weekend has actually begun. The smiles never leave our faces and everybody’s hugging and then there’s still hours of karaoke to go. The karaoke bar is just as bizarre and slightly shady as we knew it would be, and people are singing and laughing and somehow every inch of that place is filled with a friend. Nine states and three countries of guests. People from our entire lives are sharing songbooks, catching-up their pasts, singing duets, sneaking cigarettes. Ray and Blynch have a strange song-off competition with Anna Beth and Dan. How did that happen? Did I dream it? Why is Leon singing a seventeen-minute Carpenters song that sounds like it’s from outer space? Why am I doing the Cotton-Eyed Joe? Why am I rolling on this dirty, dirty carpet?

I was a wreck at the rehearsal. I cried constantly. I cried whenever I heard a second of someone rehearsing their part in the wedding. Just seeing all of those people, the cast and crew of our most important show, had me shaking. Shaking, but still smiling. I took a weepy shower at seven in the morning, unable to sleep, unable to stop crying. All the emotions from all the planning, all the guests, all the expectations just caught up with me, and I looked like a very bad Lifetime movie. I figured if I was this frantic and fragile, stee must have been going through it, too. I called his hotel room at eight in the morning. “Can you not sleep either?” I asked. “I’m just so nervous and excited. How are you?” He replied, “Hmm-wha?” He had been sound asleep.

I had this terrible twist in my stomach, and it felt like when you fill the coffee cup right to the top and it forms that little bubble that could burst and spill everything over the side. There was food, and errands and preparation and so much waiting. So much waiting for that wedding to start. I sat in that dress with my pretty, pretty hair and waited as other people got to move around or be outside, or go to the bathroom without any assistance. I was locked in the girl-tower, waiting for my special moment. It was the longest day of my life, followed by the quickest night of my life.

The lobby had a small cafe and the patrons all looked at me as I got off the elevator. Allison was mad that they didn’t applaud when they saw me. Just one man quietly put his hands together. Everything changes into snapshots at this point. I remember standing with everyone, waiting to go in. I could hear the music had started, the ceremony had already begun. My mom and I held hands, and Brently and Anna’s baby walked past me. Uno, the general manager, the man with the dry, dry wit, told me I looked beautiful. It’s the last thing anyone said to me before we went inside.

I caught a glimpse of stee’s face at the front of the room. His face was lit up, and he looked so handsome, and I instinctively hid, thinking somehow it was still bad luck for him to see me. People turned to look at me as I waited for my cue. And I saw Erin and Dree and these huge, smiling faces, and that’s when I knew I wasn’t going to cry. Man, this was about to be a lot of fun.

I said to Mom, “You ready?” The look on her face, that determined, scared, concentrated look — I won’t forget that. She was doing this for me, for my father, and for our family. Dad had always joked that I he wanted me to elope because he didn’t think he’d make it down the aisle without breaking down. My mom, the woman who suffers from stage fright more than anyone I’ve ever met in my life, was about to do one of the most terrifying things to her, and she was going to do it right. “Here we go,” I whispered. And we took our first steps.

Allison sang so strong, so beautifully, that you could hear the crowd lose its breath for a second. Then they laughed, this beautiful laugh we’ll always remember, because it’s exactly how it feels to be in love. It’s disorienting, hilarious, and a tiny little moment when you don’t know which way to look or what is going on. It just sounds beautiful and everywhere everyone is smiling.

The ceremony was perfect. It felt like we were in a different time, or even another country. It was dark, but the camera flashes would make the room blast white like lightening bolts surrounding us, and my eyes started to feel fuzzy from the tears and my possibly bruised pupils. At one point I became convinced we had forgotten to lift my veil, and I had to touch my face to be sure that I was really still there and I wasn’t dreaming. I put the rings on in the wrong order, and I think I tried to kiss stee many times before Tara told us to, and the next thing I knew it was over and we were walking back down that aisle together feeling like the luckiest people.

My favorite thing about it was that no matter where I looked, no matter who was standing in front of me, it was a loved one. We ran out into the lobby after the ceremony, stee and I, still holding hands. I cheered to the same group of patrons who had just seen me go inside the room, “We’re married!” Not a single person made a sound. Happy new year, people.

I don’t even remember taking pictures after (except I remember how we couldn’t stop kissing) and dinner is a crazy, darkened blur of hugs and kisses and the sound of laughing. Blynch holds up his camera phone — baby Alejandro Zarate, the reason my wonderful friends Chuy and Cathy couldn’t come to the wedding, decides to ring in the new year with us and arrives, days early, becoming a very good reason to skip our wedding. Baby New Year makes an appearance.

Old friends are meeting new friends, they’re turning to me to say, “You were so smart to seat us together! I love this person!” Weldon talks sports with A.K.. Hicks and Maile and Chris and Marcy are getting on just as we hoped they would. Omar thanks me for seating his wife next to a woman who makes cakes for a living. Everybody is both flattered and insulted at their table names.

I remember the beautiful toasts and the faces of everyone in that seductive candlelight as they squinted to try and see their food, the shocked looks on their faces when they were getting their hands washed, or they had to drink their soup from the bowls, and how the mirrors made the room look like this enormous feast as I thanked everyone for coming and almost caught myself on fire as I passed the fireplace.

Then we were downstairs, and people were applauding again and we danced alone. The flash of the cameras made the entire night feel like fireworks constantly exploding around us, on this night to bring in the new year.

The cake we love was cut and if I could give one word of advice here, it would be to realize the times when everybody’s going to take a picture of you and send it, as there are many pictures of me cutting the cake with my mouth open as I was talking, and others of us entering the room together — me in mid-word, stee holding a Newcastle.

And then we danced for the rest of the night. I have never danced like that in my life. We rang in the new year covered in sweat, with sore feet and faces aching from all the smiling. We played our new year song that our talented friends wrote for us, and everybody on the dance floor fell in love all over again.

Or at least, that’s how I’d like to remember it. Or maybe, just maybe, this was all Glark’s dream.

Shh. He’s an angel when he’s sleeping.

(thanks to talented photographers Hamish, Sian, Rebecca, AK, Ray, Adam, Mo, Omar and Allison for their candids)

Comments (