Act 3, part 3 continues the tale of our Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast Romance
After my recent, sudden trips to Dallas and California, I had to parcel out my time off from work for our wedding, so I stayed behind over New Year’s. It was the first time we’d been separated since she flew back to Texas after Thanksgiving weeks before.
It was dreadful being separated.
We talked on the phone just one time while Sara was away those few days. It was the worst phone call in the history of the world. It was miserable. Hearing Sara’s voice without being there with her just made me miss her all the more. I’m not much on long phone conversations anyway, but this was just painful. I think we stayed on the line less than 2 minutes and said no more than a couple dozen words. We both felt it, too — that phone call was just no good, no substitute for being together.
Sara’s folks, Ginny and Harve, lived in Heritage Village, a lovely retirement community, and we were to be married in the Meeting House, a former country home of Victor Borge built in the 1740’s — more about that later.
My flight and arrival were uneventful other than my confusion about Connecticut Limousine, my ride from the airport to Heritage Village, being a bus. Once I arrived there, I finally reunited with my sweetie and met Ginny & Harve. Harve was sinking into the twilight of Alzheimer’s, with Ginny caregiving as best she could, but getting increasingly frazzled from coping with his growing confusion and rising agitation. The wedding preparations were both overwhelming and a welcome distraction for her. Sara and I were staying at a nearby motel prior to the wedding, rather than with Ginny & Harve, to avoid any awkwardness.
Harve was delighted to meet me and I think I met his approval pretty quickly. Though no one could dissuade us at this point, I did still have to want approval from some very important folks, starting with Ginny and Harve.
Next, Sara and I had an appointment with David, the Justice of the Peace who would be performing the ceremony. A close friend of Ginny & Harve’s, he was a retired lawyer who conducted only those few weddings he wanted to. This meant he insisted on meeting the couple before actually agreeing to “take the case” as it were. He met with Sara and me, and I guess we met with his approval, as he agreed to marry us.
And Sara’s biological father, Joe, wanted to meet me. Sara reminded me that they were relatively recently reconciled after a long period of estrangement, so she said I didn’t have to meet him and we certainly didn’t need his approval. I told her I knew that, but that I wanted to meet him, so we agreed to go out for pizza one evening.
He took off teasing me about being a Texan from the very start, poking and prodding as if to provoke a reaction. I took it all in stride, and eventually explained to him, “I don’t mind the teasing. See, we always say you never ask a fellow if he’s from Texas ’cause if he was, he’d’ve already told you — and if he isn’t, you shouldn’t embarrass him.” Joe looked a little startled, but then smiled a little and backed off the teasing entirely — respect granted.
Meanwhile, my family and friends arrived from Texas. Ever the contrarian, I had 2 Best Men: my brother Scott and my friend Mike, so in addition to my folks and Scott & Joanie, Mike & Janie were there as well.
Ginny pulled out all stops to welcome the entire Texas party. She arranged for everyone in our wedding party to stay in the homes of various friends there in the Village so no one had to go to a hotel. My mom and dad stayed with David (our JP) and his wife, Debbie.
Everyone got settled in somehow, though I assure you I don’t remember much about that. The whirlwind of activity had now been filled by a constant buzz of bodies in motion as people went here and there and I watched in dazed wonderment. Detail after detail was dealt with without my involvement or anything more than passing knowledge.
Had we really set all of this in motion? I wondered. Amazing how the world will suddenly step out of your way to help you out when you need it the most. Here we were, mere weeks after meeting, standing on the cusp of joining our lives together forever. Intoxicated by the exhilaration, I was only too happy to be simply swept along at this point.
The evening before the actual event, we headed over to the Meeting House for our official wedding rehearsal — only to discover we were locked out. Whereas the building had been open earlier in the day when we had looked in on it, now the whole place had been locked down to shoot a documentary in there.
There would be no rehearsal. Of course not, we realized. We’d been winging it since we met — why change now? Of course, we could wing it for our wedding.
How hard could it be?
So we headed off to the historic Curtis House for our rehearsal dinner instead. They ushered us into a wonderful warm room in the back of the historic inn, with the tables arranged as per some etiquette books’ conception of rehearsal dinner, I think.
See, they had set the tables up in a T-shape, with Sara & I and our parents sharing the T — which put some guests rather awkwardly behind us. We started to sit down with everyone that way, but we balked at the odd arrangement.
Instead, we asked them to re-arrange the chairs somewhat so we could actually see all of our friends. After a couple of fumbling, futile attempts on their part, we just asked the folks from the Curtis House to stand aside while the Texans took over and re-arranged not just the chairs, but the tables, to suit our fancy.
Once we got that sorted out, we had a great dinner.
After dinner, Sara expressed concern about what might happen once we parted ways for the evening. After some of the stories I’d shared about various adventures and misadventures with my buddy Mike, she had begun to worry that he would whisk me away to some outrageous “bachelor party” likely to culminate in…actually, I’m not sure what she envisioned. She’s good at imagining the worst, so I’m sure she worried I’d end up in jail or in a hospital or just plain “missing in action.” It probably didn’t help much that I pretty much laughed off her concerns, but the whole idea struck me as laughable, so I laughed.
As it turned out, Mike and I headed back to my motel room with some beers. We sat around laughing and drinking and talking. Eventually, we turned on the TV and found Mae West & Cary Grant in that great old romantic comedy, She Done Him Wrong.
And that’s how I ended up with Mae West at my bachelor party.
Next: Wedding Day, morning