Time and Place

Perhaps I haven’t made it clear why I am crazy. Perhaps you are curious. Perhaps you are not. But either way, perhaps you will enjoy some fine examples of the roots of this insanity, which become clearer and clearer as the wedding plans progress.

Keith and I have decided to get married in the Caribbean. To avoid the paparazzi and jinx-ation, I will refrain from mentioning the exact location at this juncture, but suffice it to say it’s a U.S. territory other than Guam, the water is safe to drink and no vaccinations are required for entry. Unless you are made of coral or eat barracuda (in which case you could theoretically fall prey to bleaching and/or ciguatera, respectively), the prognosis is pretty good.

Here are the reactions I got when I told a few people about the destination.

Jamie:  Can’t wait!

Dave and Rob:  We are there!

Future SIL:  So excited!

Loren:  It’ll be like group vacation!

Lew: 

Um … Lew?

Lew:  [five minutes later] Are you SURE you want to get married there? What about a nice domestic place like Maine … or Cape Cod?

Ah, Cape Cod. Site of at least 10 family vacations and one uber-traumatic barf (circa August 1982). Accessible only via mind-numbing six-hour car ride, about which Lew complained non-stop for two months leading up to each of these family vacations. What a great idea! We can have the reception in the kitchenette of our efficiency room at the Salty Sea Cap’n Motel, where the disposable paper bathmats are decorated with a cartoon map of “the Cape” and the carpet is the softest of Astroturf.  And OMFG! That old man from Nantucket — of every limerick fame — could officiate!

Me: Yeah. We’re sure.

Jan: What about Dave and Rob’s beautiful backyard in Dallas?

Lew: What about … Tampa? Southern California?  [increasing desperation] Gulf coast of Mississippi?! Little Chapel of Love in Las Vegas???

Sigh.

When pressed, neither parent was able to articulate exactly why a five-star hotel in a place where American cell phones worked just fine and to which you could fly non-stop on a major airline was so far beyond their comfort zone [the Upper West Side and three European Union countries]. 

I tried to accept their anxiety and get past it, but, as is always the case, guilt and sad imagery of Jan and Lew began to haunt me. Was I a horrible daughter for asking them to come to a wedding somewhere they didn’t want to go?! Was I being totally selfish?!

I decided to inquire, hoping they’d reassure me with something like this: “Put such thoughts out of your head! This is your day, and we are beyond happy to travel anywhere for you. You’re a fabulous daughter and we love you.”

Instead, the response was more along these lines: “We’d really prefer you get married closer to New York. [pause] But we’ll still come.”

My utter relief was short-lived as they went on to obsess about who would take care of the cat while we were all away.

Jamie suggested we just cancel the wedding, given that it was seven months away and they were still short a catsitter.

Then Jan had another idea.

“You know, Marsha Feldman’s son just had a gargantuan wedding at the Breakers in Palm Beach. It sounded absolutely breathtaking.”

Breathtaking, you say? You know what else sounds breathtaking?! A PANIC ATTACK, which I’m about to have.

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Time and Place

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On Friday night, like many other nights, it took me forever to fall asleep. I meant to wake up at a respectable hour the next morning, but shockingly, that plan went awry. Keith, of course, had no trouble falling asleep on Friday night and thus, was ready to face the day before 7 am. Which is just wrong. But I digress. By the time I finally awoke, with a delightful case of morning breath, hair that was matted on one side, two feet wide on the other, bouffant-style on top (secured by falling-out barrette) and knotted in the back, it was roughly 10. Fine. It was 10:15. FINE. It was pushing 10:30.  Alright?! Jeez Louise.

I felt bad that Keith had been up for so long and assumed he was ravenous, so I told him I’d throw on clothes and we could partake of the late morning meal at the diner of his choice.  He told me he’d had some Lucky Charms, wasn’t that hungry and had a few more articles to read in the paper, so why didn’t I just relax and join him on the couch? That seemed reasonable, so I made the bed, called Jan, poured some coffee, and finally picked up the front section of the New York Times about 15 minutes later.

There were quite a few fascinating articles, and I read them all, including the Op-Eds and columns on the last page. Some, in fact, were so fascinating that I felt compelled to enhance my understanding of them by doing related Google searches. These searches took me to Wikipedia pages, which led me to yet more Wikipedia pages, which led me to ask Keith a number of probing philosophical questions. As I read, I noticed him looking over at me from time to time.

Awww.  He thinks it’s cute that I’m taking an interest in current affairs!

“Anything interesting in the news?” Keith asked me.

As a matter of fact, yes! I was just reading about ‘recess coaches’ and how childhood has evolved and all this over-scheduling has greatly hindered the creativity and social skill developm …”

“Intriguing,” Keith replied. “But what about that article on Page 3?”

“OH! That piece about the conditions in the homeless shelter. Awful. There are just so many problems in society today. I don’t know where to begin. I mean, Jane Addams and Hull Ho…”

Keith seemed slightly on edge when he cut me off.

Fine. Be that way.

He grabbed the paper, turned to the third page and pointed to something.

“What about … THIS article?”

The “article” in question was actually a handwritten note that seemed to have been glued onto the page by someone other than the Times’ editorial staff.  WTF? Was this a ransom note? Had someone kidnapped Milty, the stuffed moose?! Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be  a wedding announcement of some sort. What the hell was it doing outside of the “Sunday Styles?”

Um … OMFG.  It  actually seemed to be OUR theoretical wedding announcement.

[Insert Stewie Griffin voice] What the DEUCE?!

I looked up in a moment of total retardation, and then … wait for it … wait for it … KEITH WAS ON ONE KNEE, ASKING ME TO MARRY HIM (and holding a RIDONCULOUSLY GORGEOUS RING)!!!!!

After about an hour of unintelligible screaming, the story of how Keith had been able to pull this off so flawlessly and a nice conversation with Keith’s mom, I began calling everyone I knew. Lew was at a conference, so I didn’t bother him. Jan was at the museum, and even though I tried about 100 times, I could not get her to pick up. Jamie, however, and miraculously, answered her phone and was incredibly happy and supportive.

Loren was very excited to hear the news as well and told her three-year-old daughter Alex, “Keith and Traci are getting married!”

I could tell Alex was ecstatic, because she said, “Mommy put more water in my gwass.”

Karen, as she does almost every time we speak, immediately asked me if I was engaged yet.  I’m not sure she knew I was serious when I told her, “Yes I am!”

After a haircut for Keith and lunch at the diner, I met Kiki for a manicure. I had purposely waited to tell her, knowing I’d see her in a few hours. She was super nice and very cutely suggested I not go with “You Don’t Know Jacques,” a trendy taupe polish, because “People are going to be looking at your hands. You need more of a statement.”

Newly painted with the OPI classic “Lincoln Park After Dark,” Keith and I met Jamie and her gentleman friend (GF) for drinks at the Empire Hotel, where we’d gone on our first date – exactly 18 years and two months after we graduated from Spiffy High (scotch for Keith, Lillet for me, tequila for GF and wine for Jamie). Whilst Jamie was trying on my ring, I asked her to be my maid of honor (hereby referred to as MOH). This will be a VERY important job, given that when the big day arrives, she will have to help me navigate a ginormous crowd of about 16 people and adjust the invisible train on what I hope will be a lovely white cotton Ella Moss or Splendid sundress valued at approximately $100.

Keith and I then dined at Picholine, where we literally had one of the best meals in the history of meals, including foie gras shabu-shabu, wild mushroom risotto, monk fish, daube of beef, French cheese, and an amuse bouche. I enjoy anything that involves an amuse bouche.

 We sat next to two funny couples from New Orleans. One couple still lived there and one now lived in New York. The male half of the New Orleans-based couple had come to the Big Apple to interview for a fellowship on a liver transplant team and reminded me of Kenneth on “30 Rock.” They were quite nice and when I got up to use the restroom, offered Keith some of their hard-to-find and delicious wine.

At the end of the evening, we returned to our apartment and attempted to watch this week’s episode of “Modern Family,” but Keith had now been up for almost 24 hours, and couldn’t keep his eyes open. So I watched a little bit of the “SNL” rerun featuring a handsome but not-that-funny Jon Hamm (he is best served with Don Draper) and then went to sleep.

I am a nostalgic but not sappy person. I am also completely and utterly uncomfortable and unsure of what to do with joy, calmness, peace of mind, and the absence of emotional turmoil.  Those were always just completely foreign feelings to me, and it is incredibly difficult for me to acknowledge – even for a nanosecond – that I am not in crisis. I am used to relationships marked by conflict and eggshell-walking. I’m also a skilled magical thinker, and I will almost never utter a positive statement for fear of jinxing. But I must say that Saturday was simply the happiest day of my life.

Keith is the kindest, most wonderful person I have ever met.  He has inspired me to strive to be a better person, let go of very, very long-held and destructive thought patterns, and saved me in many ways. I’m not sure I’m worthy, frankly, and I continue to think he will wake up one day and realize this.  It never, in almost 38 years, occurred to me that a relationship could be this good, and that I could be this [insert positive adjective … I can’t do it!]

As a great perk, I am also getting Keith’s parents, Keith’s mother’s Le Mutt, twin brother, older brother, two sister-in-laws, sister-in-law’s sister, two nieces, two nephews, aunt and uncle. I am blessed and I remember that every day.

For almost two decades now – ever since leaving the comfort of my mauve bedroom in New Jersey – I have dreamed of feeling at home again. With Keith, I am home.

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Three Shout Outs and Two Notes

  • Shout Out 1:  To my friend Lauren, who became engaged whilst vacationing in Savannah. Yay!!!
  • Shout Out 2: To my friend Jess, who is tying the knot in a few hours here in New York. Yay!!! I am honored to be serving as black-clad bridesmaid.
  • Shout Out 3: To Jan and Lew, who celebrated their 37th anniversary on June 20th. Yay!!!
  • Note 1: You may or may not have noticed that of late, I’ve been even less prolific than I usually am. That is due to a combination of laziness, malaise and nightmarish conditions at work. We are preparing for a massive trade show in Texas, and sadly, it may be a little while longer before I can return to bi-weekly bloggery.
  • Note 2: I have asked my sister Jamie to serve as guest blogger. She has at least two highly entertaining tales to share, and I think I have trained her well. Please stay tuned, and enjoy.
Three Shout Outs and Two Notes