We're in PA, in a one bedroom apartment in a hotel that looks like it will be home for almost four weeks. It's nice but we're really not sure what it will be like living in a hotel for days and days and days. It is also my last day of not employment, which has dampened my spirits somewhat; the life of leisure has been very, very good and I'll miss it most when it's 10:30 and I'm at work instead of at home on the couch with Ollie and a book.
Today I stumbled onto another subtle reminder that my wife is beautiful: this link. When the photographer who shoots your wedding chooses your bride as one of his highlights, you have it made.
My beautiful wife has it made, too, at William Allen High School in Allentown. A phone call in the car yesterday (she always takes important job-offer phone calls in the car while I'm driving somewhere with bad reception) confirmed that her interview had gone well, as the school extended its first-ever employment offer from a phone interview. She met school administration and a few teachers today, toured the huge campus, and came home excited. We're both really looking forward to a great new start with this school, complete with football and basketball games and plays and band concerts. Go Canaries!
I'm not sure how much I'll write about the honeymoon; I am, contrary to what this sequence of posts (or any public blog post) would suggest, a fairly private guy and kind of feel like those 10 days are for us to remember. However, it was too great not to share a little about the rocky beaches of Nice or the awesome, awesome, awesome meal we had in Lyon or the beauty of TGV travel or the museums and cafes of Paris or the thrill of Le Tour. We lived it up as a cousin implored we should, and by the end we felt like the beginning was months ago. In Paris, on Avenue des Champs-Elysees with the maillot jaune whirling by amidst the world's greatest peleton, the view of the curving Promenade d'Anglais in Nice seemed like it had happened weeks and weeks ago, which was exactly what we needed.
posted at 8:11 PM - comments
From that moment until we cleared security at JFK, whoa. Driving, packing, packing, driving, unpacking, repacking, driving. Little hitches and little glitches in plans crept up here and there and we worked the problems. And we drove. Man did we ever drive. Together, in separate cars. Throughs flat and hills. In three huge states, crossing most of two of them and half of the other, we drove.
Thursday morning we knocked out some errands in PA and may have even illegally peeked in the window at a certain house to check out progress. We also dropped off Ollie at a boarding house, where he hissed and probably vowed to go home with another family. Then we drove to the airport, checked in, and got on a plane. We turned off our phones in the departure lounge and it had never felt so nice; as much as the ringing of my phone has meant progress, I was ready to not have any more requests for paperwork or any more vendors, guests, friends, or family need details. For the first extended amount of time since we'd been married, it was really just Jenelle and I - on an overnight flight bound for Nice.
Monday was really a single event with a day leading up to it. For Jenelle that meant an early morning haircut..."want to get rid of wedding length hair before the honeymoon." Then waterskiing (a few short passes for my weary and rusty body) and a tour of renovations at the club, followed by a few hours' respite for Jenelle and I. It had become clear after lunch that we simply were not going to survive 10 more hours, so we used two of them to recharge in the guest bedroom while preparations swirled around us. We lent a hand when we were able and - with help from family and friends again - all was in place when guests started arriving for a party in our honor. There was a very hip, contemporary cake and a piano player; friends new and old were there to greet and congratulate us. I found myself surprised at the changes in some acquaintances and surprised at how others had remained the same. I found lots to talk about with lots of people, each of whom, it seemed, wondered about a slightly different aspect of our lives. Ira had a suggestion for a honeymoon must-see, Sam and Elinor asked about our experiences in Sarasota and we had a very deep (if brief) conversation about the problems of gentrification in the new south. A toast preceeded cake and, as if suddenly, everyone was gone. We spent some time with Mom & Dad and opened (more) gifts, but didn't last much longer than the guests.
In the morning we said goodbyes to Bill & Sharon, packed the Jimmy to the very gills, and headed south to Ann Arbor and Belleville. Along the way we stopped at the Lake Michigan beach along US-2, as we had nearly three years earlier, for a jubilant dip in the lake that is so much a part of us, then drove over Mighty Mac with sailboats below and Jill and Rog on the island, and south.
posted at 7:13 PM - comments
Friday, Saturday and Sunday constituted the bulk of true 'wedding' activity in the traditional sense. That being said, Friday was pretty relaxed. I got up early and went on a bike ride along the spine of the Leelenau with Mom and Michele and took a swim afterwards. Lots and lots of people arrived over the course of the day, but with Anthony's help we sent them all away on a wine tour at 2pm and had - suddenly - the Inn to ourselves. Just the bridal party and parents and grandparents, out on the lawn under the sun, rehearsing with Pat as an old, old freighter pulled into Suttons Bay. It was one of those moments you couldn't plan. Afterwards, the rehearsal dinner. A white tent spread below the cool warming hut in Bahle (say 'bailey') Park with the smells of Croatian chicken greeted visitors as they walked up the hill. It was a great spread, with good food in a casual atmosphere. There were emotional toasts given and incredibly special gifts received but of equal importance were the connections we saw throughout the tent: Jill and Susan, thick as thieves. Butch and Bill finding things in common. Sosha a seamless fit with Robin and the Webb crowd, all of whom reunited later for a party at the Webb house. When that wound down, Jenelle and I found ourselves alone, in the quiet, at the end of the dock at the Inn, saying goodnight as two individuals one last time.
We were married Saturday. There were a lot - a lot - of details to attend to and the weather was a source of angst for most of the day, but it was awesome. I spent some time in the morning taking care of a few last minute clerical things while the girls headed to town. Around lunch Anthony & Elizabetta took me over to the Webb house to eat, then preparations began at full steam afterwards. With help from folks young and old we got everything set and ready; it seems like a list should be compiled of people who did little things, but the danger of lists is forgetting someone, so I'll just mention my new cousin Ashley who quietly, efficiently, and completely set up the menu cards and numbers on the tables. A lot of people helped like that and made the whole evening something Jenelle and I couldn't have done otherwise. At nearly four the groomsmen were sequestered at Anthony's herding. It seemed like the next hour evaporated, but the photographer arrived and got started, lots of little contingencies were arranged, and Kevin (I think, in the sense that 'I think Kevin did this' not 'I know who did this and think the person's name is Kevin') put blocks next to the altar vases. The next time I stepped onto the lawn, guests were heading for their seats and the weather was holding; wedding time.
The rest was a blur. I remember Megan Lundin looking right at me as I walked out the door of Anthony's room, like we'd known each other for decades and she wasn't some new arrival. I remember walking with Pat, the girls entering, and then Jenelle and Bill. I remember looking for Caroline because she told us to 'take a look around' and I had trained myself to use her as a trigger to do this. And I remember the service...we'd been told we wouldn't but I think Pat did too good a job and hit too close to our hearts for us not to remember. But then it was over, with a few quick steps up the aisle and hugs among family and bridal party.
The reception really started with a group photograph, which we loved. Everyone was great about it, which we thought was amazing because we can't imagine too many people have done this but it was really special to us. We took bridal party photos and made our marriage official and then it was time for dinner. Anthony and Bre continued the string of great toasts, followed by my thanking guests for sharing the day with us. (Oddly those few seconds are the only ones I truly have no recollection of... if anybody has a transcript I'd be interested.) Pat blessed the meal and we ate, together, under the tent by the lake, the way it was always intended to be. Our new friend Matt did a great job and we actually ate and enjoyed the food, as did everyone else. We cut the cake and stepped onto the dance floor for a moment that 12 hours later would still cause Grandma Irish to choke up. Then the party began and all is a whirlwind of people, pictures, music and dancing. At every turn a friendly face with a hug or a handshake and a hearty smile. We missed lots of people (I was aware of Eric, Paula, and Megan leaving but the moment was lost) and that was as expected. And, ultimately, after an improptu group hug on the dance floor, where Timmy McPhee's blonde head popped up in the middle despite his not starting there, we left too.
We returned Sunday morning in a light rain that stopped exactly on time at 8:30 for a send-off breakfast in the pergola. What we found was an incredible mix of food and craft prepared by Jacqueline, Grandma B, and Match with help from others I suspect. Somehow, in the way that Jacqueline orchestrates things without seeming like she's doing anything, the mood was perfect. Jenelle and I spent most of the time saying goodbyes, wondering when we might next see people but hoping for sooner. People asked about rings and were impressed but not changed - in the few sunny, dewy morning hours we spent it seemed like our being married was not a change at all but rather the way things were meant to be and even had been, which was perfect. Then there was packing. Mark Ehlert, sherpa to the stars, anti-Irish goodbye campaigner, you saved us hours. With more help from guests and volume borrowed from parents and Robin, we somehow found ourselves in the Jimmy with Oliver (returned from a weekend stay with his new favorite uncles, Adelbert and Mike) driving out Pebble Beach Drive and away.
That night was a treat, too, gathered in the living room at Maywood with our parents, eating leftover wedding food and cake. I ate asparagus until I truly couldn't get another stalk into my throat and hoped a guest or two had thought it as good as I did. We drank wedding wine together and Jenelle and I opened gift after generous gift - it seemed almost obscene after the week we'd had, but Moms and Dads calmed us down and assured us that these were things people wanted to do.
posted at 6:10 PM - comments
We'd been planning our wedding for about 14 months when we got into the Jimmy, saddled with the Thule box and T2k, and drove north to the Grand Traverse area on July 14th. We were excited and ready but couldn't have been ready for how fast, how busy, how fun the next few days would be.
That Wednesday would be one of the most relaxed at the Inn; just our extended families were there and we hit the beach, the artificial island, and Jenelle and I served ice cream to the crowd. I met Grandma Gray, Jenelle met the Oregon Irishes. Everybody enjoyed the spot and seemed to be having a good time.
Thursday morning Anthony arrived and I met him at the airport and we went straight to hike the Sleeping Bear Dunes with my relatives. Jenelle, Bre, Sharon, and Grandma Gray visited the shops of Suttons Bay, and she snuck away in time to meet a group at Van's Beach in Leland, where a few hearty Brunos swam while others watched a gathering storm envelope the Manitous. Back at the Inn, after the weather had broken, we gathered in the pergola for brats with all the trimmings, salads, and brownies. That night, a gathering around the campfire on the beach was a highlight.
There are about 6x10^3 ways to return to the blog. None would be all-inclusive, none would do justice to the full color and content of the past three weeks. So, in true weblog fashion, I have decided to use a series of consecutive posts to describe the events that have taken place.
posted at 5:32 PM - comments
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Tomorrow is zero hour, go time, etc, etc. In addition to leaving houses, towns, and the life we've known, it's wedding time. Everything has pretty much come together according to best-made plans and we're now really just gearing up for a vacation. The truck is proof of that: ski box for added volume and bike on top, wedding stuff, vacation clothes, good CDs jammed inside. Over the past few days we've been mentally tracking the departures and travel of our guests. We've wondered what it is like for young cousins riding the train across the plains, or what our aunts and uncles who are already in Suttons Bay are up to. Mostly, though, we've pined for the days of waiting to be over - it's going to be awesome and we're ready for it to start.
posted at 8:03 PM - comments
When you leave a place you want your last memories to be good ones. Last runs of ski trips shouldn't include falls or caught edges. Last dinners out on vacation shouldn't include burnt soup or rude waitstaff. And so there was significant pressure on us to make Sunday and Monday - our last days in Ann Arbor - awesome. Sunday we ran around on Mitchell Field and hit the Huron Towers pool and headed to Top of the Park. Monday we worked like madpeople but took a break for a great dinner with a friend at Shalimar on Main Street. In history's mind's eye, this will be the Ann Arbor we remember: a slightly hot, breezy night in folding chairs watching "Night at the Museum" at the north end of Ingalls Mall, with Burton Tower and Rackham as statuesque backdrops; in other words, Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park.
Students at Ohio State often assert (via shoddily-made t-shirts) that Ann Arbor is a whore. I assure you she is not. This has been a great, great town to live in for a few years. Fleetwood, Kerrytown, btb, South U, Main Street, Acme Merc, Angelo's, the Arb, State & Liberty, Hoover on autumn Saturdays with drum guy, Mitchell Field, the parks, the river, Washtenaw Dairy, and the University, we'll miss you all.
This post marks less than a week to go, but also a slate of pretty memorable events - none of which happened on Thursday. Actually we had some errands and then three dance lessons, one of which was a private lesson, the next a group, then a 'party' as a nightcap. It was very productive in that I think we're pretty ready to be out on the dance floor in exactly 7 days, but we also really got a taste of what we don't know.
Friday we kind of divided and conquered. I did all kinds of stuff in Ann Arbor and Jenelle did the same in Belleville. She had a mid-day call that was pretty important, then we rendezvoused at her place and headed north to Lake Orion for an evening with Adelbert and Mike. We really liked seeing their house and the details they've put into it; mental wheels were spinning throughout the tour. There was also a great, great summer dinner outside on the deck looking out into their woods and talking about days ahead.
Today included a number of events. The first was our annual trip to the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market. We should go more often, but it has only worked out that we really wanted to on a trio of occassions - today we wanted fresh basil and found it. Then I had a haircut, a final haircut, marked by discussions with my stylist about 'what things my fiance has done to make this experience really special.' In the afternoon we took an impromptu nap with Ollie and then rallied for a major airshow, which I dubbed "Thunder over Jenelle's House." The Navy's Blue Angels are in town for "Thunder over Michigan" so we grabbed lawn chairs and found a spot in the park to watch them scream hither and yon across the sky over Willow Run airport.
A recurring event lately, for better or worse, has been discussions about the role of the groom in today's wedding. Family and friends have commented on how nice it is that Jenelle and I are doing the wedding together. Strangers have no idea how a groom is involved, and vendors often seem reticent to include him - sometimes outright not knowing who I am until Jenelle's name and the date come up. There's such a pop-culture, media-fed bridezilla and mother-of-the-bride inertia that we grooms barely get recognized, no matter how balanced the planning has been. The moral of the story is this: don't ask your soon-to-be married guy friend how his fiance is doing with the wedding plans.
Happy Birthday America! The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday; it's in the summer so everybody is geared for an outdoor celebration and there are no prescribed activities, with the possible exception of fireworks. For us this year, though, we just weren't up for anything. We had ice cream at Frosty Boy and watched the Tigers - that was it. (Seriously.) Next year, though, I expect we'll be taking in some fireworks with the PSO or over Lady Liberty.
Yesterday we headed to Lansing again for a day of crafting. First we visited Mackerel Sky, an East Lansing craft gallery, for some gift shopping. Then we kept up the same craft theme at Jacqueline's on the other side of town. Her day had been scheduled full, but some changes meant we spent more time than had been expected, including last Clara's and some great creative release in her craft-cache of a basement.
Today is also Wednesday, so not only is it a last, but the "this time next week" cycle has begun. As I type this, we're just a 'this time next week' away from a trip to TVC to collect the best man and other late-night arrivals.
More errands, this time mostly via automobile in Ann Arbor. Tux pants hemmed. Trusseau shoes. Pick up marriage license. Blood test. Wedding garments. Pictures printed. The list goes on and on. I'm not sure if there's a way to really consolidate these details, but I suppose when you arrange your life events to be in such quick succession this is what you get.
We're close enough now that we can start to stress about weather forecasts. It's been very cold overnight in Ann Arbor, which means we can only imagine what the temperature must be like up north with wind off the lake. There hasn't been much rain but now the forecast is looking like we might get caught up; we were hoping the Farmer's Almanac would be right about 'cool and dry' but it now looks like they might have only been half right.
The weather continues to be awesome in southeast Michigan, so we keep soaking it up. Saturday we exercised and hit the pool after an AM dance lesson. During Prairie Home we made hay on the mess in 409B and found lots of random stuff. In the evening we fulfilled our promise to ourselves and saw Pixar's Ratatouille. Honeymoons are a strange thing: how often in life do you need to watch a movie to remind yourself that in three weeks you'll be sitting in France enjoying a 10-day getaway from the world?
Today has been lazy. Last Fleetwood, last hippie hash no mushrooms, sunny side up, wheat toast. Last trip to Acme, Three Chairs, Downtown Hardware, Art Center. We drove up to South Lyon to pick up an exercise aparatus that has become ours, then spent the evening at home. Robin and I talked for a long time, Jenelle and I e-shopped for items of various urgency - mostly on the home front - and we had brats for dinner. It definitely feels like a corner has been turned in terms of preparedness. We've gone from being panicked and not ready to being anxiously ready for things to happen faster.