We resume our love story the following morning, Saturday…
The next morning, Joanie, who had spent the night in a nearby hotel, called, unrested and restless, checking on us and how the night had gone. Somehow, she believed helping us get together should allow her to extract a juicy re-telling of the night, but Sara demurred when pressed for details despite Joanie’s curiosity.
She came by the house to get the two of us, and we all three headed over to Trudy’s on South Lamar to grab some Tex-Mex breakfast: migas & mimosas, and moony-eyed lovers the morning after.
You know the look — if you’re lucky.
So, we were sipping coffee and ordering our food while engaged in small talk, until Joanie bluntly asked, “So what’s up?” In a half-joking tone, she asked, “You guys getting married?”
A momentary pause hung in the air…
“Not today,” I blurted out as Sara looked at me wonderingly. Joanie — once again —looked suddenly startled. Sara smiled and hugged up on my arm and I leaned into her, reminding both of them that I still had to shoot pictures at that wedding a little later.
So, Joanie excused herself from the table, and found a pay phone (remember those?) to call Scott. “You remember your bachelor brother?”
“Well, say good-bye to that guy…”
After breakfast, I had just enough time to get back to the house, grab the camera, dress in something resembling appropriate attire for a wedding and head out the door.
I parked the car, hurried down the trail to overlooking Town Lake to where the wedding was to take place.
Only no one was there.
Momentarily confused, I suddenly realized that she might have meant the gazebo by the S. 1st bridge, not at Lou Neff Point in Zilker Park where I was standing, puzzled and breathless.
Rushing back to the truck, I headed over to the gazebo only to find the wedding over and everyone drifting away to their cars. Downfallen, I made my way through the thinning crowd to my friend Bridget, who, of course, looked radiant in her wedding gown and beautiful bride’s smile. Seeing me, she smiled even more broadly. “Sorry.”
“For what?” she asked.
I raised the camera and she just laughed. “Oh, that,” she said, “You and I never touched base again, so we just got somebody else.”
I headed back to the house to rest a bit. After all, Sara still had a flight to catch out of Houston early in the morning, so we had to get her back down there that night. Still uncertain of our plans, we hopped in the car and headed back down the highway out of town.
Everything seemed to be blissfully falling into place as we rode into the early evening. I was driving with Sara beside me — nearly climbing into my lap — and Joanie in the back seat, trying to rest.
Driving through the hills and pines surrounding Bastrop, we saw pink clouds announcing the dusk, and Sara and I turned to each other with another sense of recognition.
“Jessie,” we both said. See, Jessie loved pink. Seeing those clouds that evening made us both think of her, and wonder if maybe she somehow managed to get two of her favorite people together even in her much-grieved absence. You can almost imagine her whispering, “Uncle Alan and Aunt Sara — Uncle Alan and Aunt Sara.”
The sun went down, the pink faded, and Joanie dozed off as we rolled into the night. I told Sara I’d rather take a familiar short-cut before turning south off Highway 71 in Smithville, onto the less-travelled Highway 95. We zoomed down the empty miles of 95 in the night, until a bit of bumpiness accidentally roused Joanie.
Groaning as she sat up, she asked “Where the hell are we?”
I explained we were taking a short-cut for a faster drive. Joanie grumbled uncertainly as she realized that she was no longer in charge of this ride.
Next: Parting, such sweet sorrow, as we continue the Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast Romance.