-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
Woken this morning by the subtle beating of someone else's heart, the bellows of their lungs a rhythmic calming; the sounds of kids being readied for school, sneakers sending ancient wooden beams creaking in the freezing air.
Hours, nowhere near enough, later, we took Nancy to the Burlington airport so she could catch her flight home.
Keri (the bride) and Steve (the groom, a friend of mine of many, many years, though at times our contact has been somewhat patchy) and I grabbed lunch at a most excellent Thai place. I got some pad beef and brocolli, Steve tried the beef pho on my suggestion, and Keri got Vietnamese pad Thai. Extremely good. They dropped me off at the airport so I could catch my flight. There was much talk of their visiting Philadelphia in the near future, which would be awesome, though I think they should wait until the spring so they can do all the touristy things without freezing their asses off.
Got through security with no issues, and sat in front of the giant windows overlooking the field; watched F-16s flown by the Burlington "Mountain Men" National Guardsmen land on the strip, listening to Vermillion Pt. 2 on repeat. Eventually the flight was called and I slept for an hour.
These regional planes are so damn tiny. Twin jets, and you can't even stand up in the cabin. The first plane was a three-rower, and seemed to be full except for the seat next to mine. Lucky me. The second was a four-rower, but my fellow passenger was an older businessman and obviously well-schooled in flight and caused me no troubles.
Touched down, got my bag, and hailed a cab. "Yo, man. Philly." The driver looks me. "You know, just somewhere in the city," I quip. According to the card in the window separating us, his name is Yuri Berger; he has a thick Russian or Czech accent (I can't tell the difference, I don't think) and I restrained the urge to ask him if that was an Americanized name, and why had he changed it. He laughs and says, "That's good, but any streets in particular?"
I really can't believe how much fun I had at this wedding. Those damn French Canadian-derived humans can drink just as much as the Irish/Hungarian crowd, and know how to party down. In truth, I fully expected this last week to be pretty awful, and was extraordinarily happy with how it all turned out. I really miss hanging out with Steve. He's fucking awesome. And having finally met Keri, and watching she and Steve interact, and how he interacts with her kids, I feel much better about the whole thing. After we all filed out of the chapel, when we're hugging and kissing and shaking hands with the wedding party, Keri hugs me and says, "Didn't think it would actually happen after the other night, huh?" Referring to a stress-blowout.
"I never had any doubt."
The wedding itself was amazingly beautiful. Keri looked astounding. The ceremony itself was non-traditional and very, very classy. The mayor did the actual marrying and did an excellent job... but he somehow managed to miss an important bit, after having pronounced the marriage:
Mayor Dan: "Now, Keri and Steve would like all of you to attend a reception they're holding---"
Steve: "uh, pst, we haven't kissed."
Keri: "What about the kiss?!"
Mayor Dan: !
Mayor Dan: "You may kiss the bride!"
The next day, looking at pictures with Nancy, Keri and a very nice relative of theirs whose name I don't recall, we were laughing about that, and how perfect the rest of the ceremony had been. I opined that something like that had to happen, just for the sake of the story it provided.
It's the flaws that make things interesting.
Jesse and I drove over to the reception, which was a great time. We ended up staying two hours after it was scheduled to stop because people were having so much fun. The DJ was that good, which surprised the hell out of me. I expected cheese, and there was some, but he pulled it all off with easy skill. Everyone was dancing and having a good time.
The best man's speech was awesome (he choked up in the middle of it, and the entire room started tearing up as well; later he had the nerve to worry enough to say he thought that he'd fucked it up somehow, because he had to fight to get the words out. We were justifiably angered and insisted it had been perfect). There was much dancing and drinking. I got a few slow dances in with Nancy, and got a little freaky as well. Not well, mind you, but I can't say I cared much about how I was doing at the time.
On top of all these great events, there was a near-constant hanging out with cool people. Word to the Plattsburgh Crew for being such good people. Also got to see Jesse, who I haven't heard from in years.
And now I'm home, showered, in my flannels and too awake to sleep, too tired to get dressed to get food. Displaced. A lot of really good memories mixed in with the sad leave-taking of new friends and old.
By no means was this trip trans-oceanic, but I'm still waiting for my soul to catch up to the rest of me.