Wedded Blog. Bliss!! -or- Part Two

6 07 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008 – I can’t remember what time I woke up, but I know she was already gone. Off being girly, buying flowers and whatnot, her dad along for the ride, snapping pictures that I’ll see later. My friend, the chosen family member, and I get in touch. He’s been up for a while, I’m sure, probably bored out of his mind, waiting for me to wake up, but he doesn’t make a big thing of it, for which I am grateful. Or rather, will be grateful once the day is behind me, and I can think like a normal person.

I get ready for the beginning part of the day. I don’t like to change clothes in the middle of the day. In high school, when I was in choir and we had a performance in the evening, for which we would have to wear our uniform tuxedo-minus-jacket, rather than wear my standard jeans and tee during the day, go home, throw on my almost-tux, and then go to the performance, I would actually just wear the uniform all day at school, just to avoid having to change midday. Today, though, I make an exception. Not because I don’t want to wear a snazzy suit through the city of San Francisco, but because if I were to spill anything or smudge anything or heck, even breathe too harshly on the fool thing, then that darling, starry-eyed girl I came up here with would actually murder me. Coldly and premeditatedly, and she would likely be acquitted. So I’m thinking, two outfits today?… Being dead? After genuinely thinking about it for about thirty seconds longer than I should have, I decided on the former.

So, my friend and I meet up, and, being two mid-twenties males, we are — big surprise — hungry. We decide to go across the street from the hotel to Mel’s Drive-In. I’ve been to two different locations of Mel’s, and I still haven’t figured out where the “drive-in” part of the equation comes in. Anyway, we sit, we order, we wait, we talk, the food comes, we eat, my friend asks the waitress where the best place is to get this or that, she doesn’t know, the bill comes, he offers to pay, I let him, we talk a bit more.

Why do you need to know all this? Well, you don’t, actually. I guess I’m just telling you all the mundane little things to get you to understand how bizarre today is. Here it is, the biggest day of my life so far, the most significant, the most important and beautiful, and the world is just moving along like normal. Even in the moment, while I was there and my mind was racing, I was aware of how outside I felt. You know how when you’re sick, your head’s all congested and your voice sounds stupid? When you’re that kind of annoying sick, you know how it just doesn’t make sense that everybody you meet isn’t just as sick as you are? Most people you meet, they’re just normal, going about their business, and you maybe think, “Big faker.” But then you meet a genuinely cheerful person, and you just can’t wrap your head around that idea. You’re suddenly okay with the idea of gouging a cheerful strangers eyes out, just so that they’ll feel the same as you, and you can’t help thinking, “Showoff.” Well, my day was like that, but with fewer eye-gouging thoughts.

How can you possibly be a waitress today? Don’t you get it? Today’s kind of a big deal. Can you not feel that? That surge, that actual physical energy coursing through what I assume is the entire world. I mean, even if I’m wrong, and it’s actually just coursing through me, how are you not affected by it? When you get near me, Mr. Bellboy, sir, how are you not jolted halfway across this hotel lobby? Really, Mr. Drugged Up Homeless Man, today’s the day that makes sense for you to ask me for some change? Yes, random passerby, it is a silly shirt I’m wearing today, but wouldn’t you rather be talking to me about something else? Anyone? Come on.

But they didn’t come on. Like that Chris Gaines song, It Don’t Matter To The Sun, “This old world just keeps turning ’round, turning ’round, like it did the day before…”

We got back to the hotel, and started getting dressed for real. Talking some mindless small talk, pretending like a huge event wasn’t just moments away. Sandals giving way to loafers, jeans to newly pressed slacks. Silly shirts became an undershirt, a white, non-stained or -smudged or -breathed on button up, a jacket, and a tie that refused to tie correctly.

“Do I button all the buttons on the jacket, or just the top one, or what?” “All but the bottom.” Whether or not his answer was correct, it didn’t matter. I just needed an answer. I wasn’t nervous, know that. People often asked, in the weeks leading to today, “Are you nervous?,” and I’m simply not. I don’t really get why one would be. It seems to me that if you’re nervous about today, then today isn’t the right day for it. I don’t know. Not nervous; excited. So excited that I needed answers and didn’t care if they were correct.

So, here we were, two best frieds since forever, now both in our suits, about to walk down to the lobby. His suit was nicer, more expensive, shinier. But mine was black, so I think I win.

Into the lobby, waiting. She’s not there yet. Still haven’t seen her all day. Her dad and her brother join us before long. We laugh a bit about how on time we are and how on time they’re not. “They” being every female in the group.

Finally, there they are. There she is.

A little something about her. She’s a bit of a photographer. Before knowing her, I never really understood what makes a photographer different from me with my Kodak disposable. I mean, point and click, right? Well, here’s the difference: I’ll point and click, and I’ll show the picture to someone and they’ll say, “Oh, that’s a pretty flower.” She’ll point and click and show the picture to someone, and they’ll say, “…,” because they’re absolutely speechless. Blown away. A photographer, this woman in front of me, finds the hidden beauty in beautiful things.

When I saw her for the first time that day, wearing a dress that I’d only ever seen in a garment bag, holding flowers that I’d later see pictures of her picking out this morning, all I could say was, “…”

Our eyes met, we smiled, and we led the party out the doors and down a few city blocks.

“Click, click, click!,” was about all I heard for the next hour or so. Well, that and, “Okay, now one with your mom, now your mom and your sister, now just the two of you, now you by yourself, now just the guys, now…” Also, in fairness, I should say that the homeless community finally started respecting the day a bit, by saying, “Congratulations,” and, in one case, humming “Here Comes the Bride.”

We finally get to the City Hall, and our professional photographer showed up, and we were posed, and made to smile those fake smiles that everyone accepts as genuine when they look at pictures. We went into this room and that, signing this paper and that, and then we waited. After a bit, we walked up the stairs that Indiana Jones walked down at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and we found ourselves on a platform, just us… and the sleeping homeless man on the steps right over there. Atmosphere. Awesome.

Then the ceremony. This part you know. “Do you take her? Do you take him?” “I do,” and, “I also do.” And yet, even though there were no surprises here, and I watch a lot of TV and movies, and could have easily done all three participants’ parts, it felt like these words were being said for the first time. Written just for us, meant just for us, fulfilling their purpose in this moment, right here, right now. I smile and look down at my ring and smile bigger right now, as I’m writing these words. The rings. We put them on each other, and I realized that my finger had been missing something all these years.

The ceremony ends, but the pictures don’t. First, there are pictures of the reporter from the Associated Press, come to ask the newly married straight couple how we feel about being married on the technically-first day same sex marriage licenses are being issued. All I’m thinking as my wife (my wife!!) talks to the lady is, Four minutes married, and this’ll be the first time her new name appears in print!

After that, the photographer gets an idea. She’ll go up there to the balcony, and we’ll all gather in a semicircle, and she’ll get a whole group shot. Splendid. So, she goes up, and we all gather, and for just a moment, I look around. Here we all are, myself, my wife (!!), her mom, her dad, her brother, her aunt, her cousin, my mom, my sister, and my best friend. And in that moment, the world stepped up. In that moment, the world acknowledged the gravity of the situation, it did matter to the sun, everyone stopped and took noticed, tipped their hats and bowed, nodded in our direction, said a united chorus of “Congratulations!”

Or maybe not. Maybe instead, in that moment, this group of people, most of whom had never met each other before, this group of people, united just moments ago solely by their common knowing of we two, this group of people, in that moment, became family.





Laughing On The Verge Of Serious -or- Part One

1 07 2008

Friday, June 13 – Friday the 13th. I get off work at around three or so, the day having so far been a sporadic parade of “Congratulations,” and “I heard that… Is it true?” I finally walk out the door, though, and my ride is waiting for me. Together we begin our journey. Well, that’s not exactly true, is it? Our journey really began nine years ago, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

The many-hour trip, broken up by the occasional meal and pit stop, started with a gnab, which is the opposite of a bang. The L.A. traffic at around three o’ clock on a Friday didn’t let us get out of Dodge for about an hour and a half. You know that Weird Al song, Traffic Jam? “I left home five hours ago, and I can still see my house from here.” That song was written for this day.

Anyway, we’re finally on the wide and open, and just about as day gives into night, we arrive at our motel. This motel, whose name escapes me, was apparently voted the best motel in the area. I suppose. I don’t travel much, so sometimes I’ll think to myself, “What, really, aside from the fact that motels have many fewer rooms, are cheaper, and have an ‘m’ where the ‘h’ should be, is the difference between a motel and a hotel?” The answer, my friends, is this: at a motel, the guy you check in with will not have any readily available idea that you were supposed to be checking in tonight, there will be at least one mouse- or door knob-sized hole in the wall, and you will have the distinct feeling that probably there’s a hidden camera in your room that is connected to monitors on which greasy and sad, creepy men are watching your every move. That last paranoia, I blame squarely on Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale. Thanks, jerks. Aside from those things though, you got a bed, a bathroom, something resembling a desk, and the best basic cable has to offer.

Saturday, June 14 – This is the day that officially makes it so that I don’t have to help anybody move for at least a year. Martina McBride once sang about The Day Of Reckoning; today was The Day Of Traveling. A lot. First, we leave the “m”otel and continue on our way, stopping just once for lunch. We check into the “h”otel, and I promptly break the TV. “It worked just a second ago, I don’t get it. Now the channels won’t change. Weird.” “Maybe if we unplug it and plug it back in.” “Sounds good to me.” *BLINKK!!* “Well, now it doesn’t even turn on. Damn.”

Broken TVs, though, pose no threat to The Day Of Traveling. For The DOT will always persevere. “Don’t worry about it.” This from the girl who clearly encouraged the present state of brokenness. “We have to pick up my mom and dad.” And so we do. Hey, you know what’s fun for a guy who literally gets lost trying to figure out the shopping mall map directories? Trying to navigate through a foreign airport. Especially when he’s trying desperately to keep up with the girl in front of him who doesn’t slow down, even though they both realized, upon parking in the garage, that neither of them knows on which airline her parents are traveling. Fun: the other “F” word.

So, we’re running frantically through who-knows-where, leaving messages on her dad’s phone, “When you land, hopefully you turn on your phone. If you do, please tell us where you are, because we are dumb in a cheesy-farcical-comedy-that-nobody-believes kind of way. Thanks.” Things work out and we collect the parents… but then, wouldn’t ya know it, we don’t know how to get back to the car. “We think we came from there…” “Where it says ‘Do Not Enter’?” “Yeeees…” “Wait! Wasn’t there a red 1974’s-version-of-the-future neon hallway?” “Yes! There was! Okay, everybody. Look for something that wouldn’t seem out of place while you’re waiting in line for Disneyland’s Space Mountain!” And, strange as it seems, we found it, and it led us to the car. Success!

So, we get back to the hotel, and now the TV works. TV elves? Makes you wonder. No time though, because, “Okay, my aunt’s already here, but she’s spending time with some friends, and we have to get my brother.” “Right, but my theory on the elves… oh, never mind.”

Off to the bus station. Where’s the brother? “Where are you?” “I’m here.” “No. We’re here; where are you?” “Here.” “Not here. ‘There,’ maybe?” “Pretty sure if anyone’s ‘there,’ it’s you.” “No, we’re definitely here.” “’Here’ here?” “Probably not. Ah! There you are.” He gets in the car. “Where were you?” “I was right there.” “Exactly.”

Back to the hotel. Rest for a few, and then it’s off to dinner. Hey, you know what’s fun-with-a-capital-“FU” for a guy who can only really talk at length about movies and TV, and doesn’t really do well in groups of people? Going out to dinner with a girl he cares deeply for, her brother who he doesn’t know very well, her parents who he’s met about three times, her aunt who he doesn’t remember meeting, and her two friends who he’s never met. Yay!

Little side note. What did I eat for dinner, I know you’re dying to know. The answer: barbeque. Here’s how you know you’re me: you’re thinking, “Oh. You had a barbeque?” Here’s how you know you’re everyone else at dinner that night: “No, silly. Barbeque is the name of the food. It’s meat done up a certain way, and it’s actually called barbeque.” Here’s what I think. Barbeque is allowed to be a noun when there’s an “a” in front of it. In fact, it can be two different nouns. It can be the actual device that you use to barbeque things. You know, the thing with a lid and charcoal, there’s a grill, and you through some lighter fluid in there. It can also noun out to the event. “You’re invited to a barbeque,” but you should spell it Bar-B-Q. If you don’t want an “a” in front of it, that’s fine too; just understand that you’ve just verbed it. To barbeque. “How’d you cook this meat?” “Oh, I barbequed it.” But what you can’t do is then call the meat barbeque. You don’t call a grilled cheese sandwich grill. A blended smoothie does not become blend. You can’t just have something that’s orange and call it an… okay, wait.

So, after dinner, into the hotel bar. More awkward for me, trying to smile and nod, but always in new, more convincing ways. I don’t drink, either, so there’s really not a lot going for me here. Maybe now you’re thinking, “Well, that wasn’t so bad. A little dinner, some folks had a nightcap, you’re about ready for bed now, right?” Oh, no, no my friends. You underestimate The DOT.

Off we go to pick up my mom and sister, not from the airport or the bus stop, but from the train station. One day, and we’re covering an entire John Candy/Steve Martin classic. We collect them, and on the way back to the hotel, we get to go over a toll bridge. Maybe you’re used to this, I don’t know. I, however, am not, and it was awesome. I know it’s not really any different from paying to get out of a parking garage here in L.A., but somehow it feels more magical. Also, there’s the slight possibility that you’ll come out the other side, and you’ll be a cartoon. Anyone? Phantom Tollbooth? Just me, then? That’s cool.

To the hotel, depositing my mom and sister, and now to bed? Noooo! Because we first have to drive back to the airport to pick up the aforementioned aunt’s daughter. The cousin. Which is where this happened.

“You’re kidding. Seriously? Again?” What prompted that scorn from me? This: “Heh. Hey, guess what? I forgot the paper that tells me which airline she’s flying in on.” So, we drive round and round, and it’s all very déjà vu, except no Space Mountain hallway and also no Denzel Washington. We finally find the cousin, and back we are to the hotel, I marvel at how little I actually care about what’s on TV, and so, finally, sleep.

Sunday, June 15 – Just for kicks and giggles (I heard that phrase from a woman recently. I thought it was awesome. I bet she has kids.), we decided to start this day off with an homage to yesterday. First thing, it’s back to the airport to pick up the honorary family member, my best friend since eighth grade. We know which flight he’s on, we find him no problem… and then we get more lost than all of yesterday’s losts put together. For about forty minutes we three looked for our exit. Thing is, so many of those damn passageways look the same. Stupid design flaw.

We finally do escape, and we meet up with most everybody back at the hotel, and The Day Of Adventure officially begins! (Side note: I’m not shortening The Day Of Adventure, because it acronyms out to The DOA, which, frankly, sets a tone that I’d rather not set, thanks.)

Off we all (minus the brother, that is, who will meet us later with a friend in tow) go to Fisherman’s Wharf. Oh, did I mention where we are? We’re in San Francisco. So, we get there, and I don’t know what to expect, because remember how I don’t travel? Well, it turns out it’s like, a little outdoor shopping center. Tourist trap, it’s a tourist trap. It’s like the 3rd Street Promenade here in L.A. Thing is, I frickin’ love the 3rd Street Promenade here in L.A., and this place is like that, but different enough that it feels new, and… good for you, San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Good for you.

So, we eat lunch, various members of the party depart, but the brother and the friend have now arrived, so we almost break even. We shop around a bit, and my sister and I harshly judge the guy performing magic at the magic shop. Really though, he’s pretty bad. That is an objective statement, not at all fueled by the fact that my sister and I used to sell the exact same trick – er, “illusion” – at a magic kiosk a few years back, and we took pride in our presentation, and… I digress.

We find a little arcade-y place, and so we stop in for a bit. Oh! If you ever are there and you find this place, do yourself a favor. Find the machine that is a closed in glass box, inside of which is a miniature desolate landscape: dusty horizon, ragged wagon, lone wooden wheel. It will ask you to give it a quarter, and you simply must. You may think that the wagon will start to shake, or the wheel will roll, or everything will burst into simulated flames, and little people will spill out screaming for their lives. But no, my friends. What happens is so much better. You ready for this? Wind blows. Uh-huh. Wind blows and the flaps of the wagon cover sway in the wind. Which blows. For, I have to admit, quite a long time, considering it was only a quarter. After we were duped into the thing, my friend and I waited around for some other poor sap. And sure enough, two girls happened by, stuck a quarter in, and then probably wondered why two random guys were snickering behind them.

We then found a pretty inexpensive boat tour that took us around Alcatraz, and to within good photo-distance of the Golden Gate Bridge. Because you can’t spell “mind-bustingly silly and/or embarrassing tourist” without “boat tour”. But it was cool. By which I mean cold. I dig the cold, but even I had to borrow my mom’s sweater (she had a jacket as well; I didn’t make the woman freeze to death.). I also mean it was cool, because we saw a seal or otter or sea lion with half of a dead fish in it’s mouth. A conversation ensued about the very fine line between “half of a dead fish,” and “a half-dead fish”. Awesome!

Back to the hotel to collect everybody, and then off to China Town. Which was fine, except I didn’t know that’s where we were going, and I specifically requested a buffet once I did figure it out, which didn’t happen. I have a hard time finding things I like to eat, and then also everyone seemed to be sharing their food, so I felt all obligated to put my food on the Lazy Susan, even though I didn’t want anybody else’s food; I wanted my food. But I’m not bitter. I’m also, apparently, not a big, whiney baby, so that’s good.

Back to the hotel, where we played a really fun game of Loaded Questions, which we knew from experience is a delight to play with stupid people, and now we found out that it’s almost equally fun with non-stupid, but sleepy people. Yay, games! And really, yay grown up grown-ups who still want to play board games, and laugh, and share some silliness. Because I’m going to be one of those grown-ups one day, and I’m glad I won’t be lonely about it. Yay, me!

Gone our separate ways now, and my friend and I find ourselves in his room. Talking about what tomorrow holds, being cavalier, but wise and sage and nonchalant and meaningful about it. Being two guys who have known each other forever, talking about how one of them is doing this thing tomorrow that will be the biggest thing either of them has ever done. Being two best friends, on the verge of incredible seriousness, laughing into the wee hours.