44 to Go

Rob, Dave and traditional pre-wedding peanut butter sandwiches

I have never been a wedding crier.

Maybe I’m too distracted by the prospect of mini hot dogs, looming on a butlered tray just a few feet away, to access the emotion.  Maybe I ration my supply of tears, saving it for sad people eating sad little homemade sandwiches out of sad little tin foil squares on sad little park benches.  Maybe I understand that conjuring tears during the matrimonial ceremony does not actually prove that you are the bride’s bestie. Or maybe I’m just frigid. I don’t know. But in the 18+ years since the first wedding I attended (shout out to my cousin Randi), there have been only two ceremonies at which I’ve cried. My own, and the one we went to on Friday: Dave and Rob’s.

Because Texas is one of the 44 remaining states yet to legalize same-sex marriage,  Dave and Rob tied the knot in our nation’s capital last week.  And as they have traveled a total of 5,016 miles to attend not one but TWO of my weddings, there was no way in hell I was missing theirs.

Somewhere out there is a picture of them successfully lifting ME at my wedding

As you would expect of a wedding planned by two gay men, everything about it was perfect.  Prior to the ceremony, I presented Rob and Dave with the peanut butter sandwiches I’d packed at home.  We had partaken of this tasty and nutritious pre-marital snack before my own nuptials, and so too would we partake of them on this momentous occasion. Side note: are peanut butter sandwiches still safe to eat after 18 unrefrigerated hours? Let’s just go with “yes” and put the cholera concerns behind us, shall we?

Rob’s cousin Liz, an ordained minister, performed the very tasteful ceremony on the roof of a friend’s apartment building. From there, you could see Rock Creek Park,  the National Cathedral, the Capitol, and a strange white orb no one could identify. Side note: I am thankful that the large-footed Universal Life Minister who married Keith and me does not read this blog, as much of Dave and Rob’s ceremony, I am honored to say, was taken directly from inspired by the one he performed for us.

Additionally, Rob carefully chose a reading for all the attendees.  This is the one Keith and I read:

May the door of your home be wide enough to receive all who hunger for love and all who are lonely for friendship. [Specifically, short Jewish girls from New Jersey.] May it welcome all who have cares to unburden, thanks to express and hopes to nurture. May the door of your house be narrow enough to shut out pettiness and pride, envy and enmity. May its threshold be no stumbling block to you or old feet, and may it be too high to admit complacency, selfishness or harshness. May your home be, for all who enter, the doorway to richness and a more meaningful life.

I don’t think I had ever seen either of them cry before, although I suspect they did on several occasions in Philly, when all the Yeungling was gone.  But at some point that day I saw a tear run down Dave’s cheek. You know how you suddenly feel like barfing when you see someone else barf? Same idea.  The no-cry policy had been broken.

Watching this wedding was just, in a word, awesome. It’s always nice to see your friends happy, of course. It’s always nice to attend a wedding at which you can clearly see the love between the two parties. (Trust me, this is not necessarily the case.) But at this wedding, you could see first-hand something else: progress.  This wedding could not have happened even a short time ago, much less 30 or 40 years ago when Dave and Rob were little kids, in the middle of nowhere, alone with the knowledge that they were “different.”  I think we all know what “different” feels like in one way or another.  Still, no matter how much of a freak I’ve felt like throughout my life, I can’t begin to imagine how hard their “different” must have been for them — and still must be, at times.

I am hardly the most politically correct person on earth. I know that many people are uncomfortable with who Dave and Rob are, and what they did last week. But I also know that they are two of the most remarkable people I have ever met. They are hot, hilarious and full of wisdom, and their goodness is extraordinary. A minute after meeting them, you feel you have known them all your life.  They are the best hello and the hardest goodbye.  Because of them, I know that I will always have a home, no matter what happens or where I am. Because of them, I know that family is not merely defined by blood. Because of them, I know that the people who are the least like you may be the people you have the most in common with. So while I understand this is a sensitive topic, I do not understand how you can look at Dave and Rob and say they deserve less than what we all have.

Dave and Rob, I love you and wish you a lifetime of happiness. You have made my life better in countless ways — and saved it more than once.

44 to Go

This Side of Paradise

I am married! Yes, mawwied! [insert voice of Long Duk Dong] [Side note: Sixteen Candles is on Lifetime tonight. Check your local listings.]

Thank you for all the WordPress love and support along the way.  Our week in St. Thomas was the happiest of my life (although admittedly, there wasn’t a lot of competition) and went off with only a few glitches.

Most really weren’t that bad:

  • Alarming speed and grace with which I downed a complimentary pee cup’s worth of Cruzan coconut rum at Cyril E. King airport
  • Ill-timed hair appointment that foiled Jan’s workout the day of the wedding
  • Delayed serving of ice cream at reception, prompting Alex the Flower Girl to tell my sister, “Traci said I was getting ice cream,” prompting my sister to tell me, “Um, Alex was under the impression that she was getting ice cream … can you confirm or deny?”
  • Complete omission of one fruit plate per table at reception
  • Receipt of bill at end of week

One really stank on ice:

  • At the last minute, Keith’s mom had to cancel her trip due to a nasty inner-ear problem that made flying a really bad idea.  Needless to say, this devastated Keith. Luckily, we were able to call Judy on speaker phone during the ceremony and she heard the whole thing.  

There were also countless highlights, but I’ll start with one of the biggest:

  • The beachside, candlelit betrothal of my lil sis /Maid of Honor Jamie to her gentleman friend on our last night in St. Thomas! HUGE congrats to her and my future BIL, and to Jan and Lew, who got both their daughters off their hands in the span of a few days.  Note to Jan and Lew – can I borrow a $100?

Others, for your reading pleasure:

  • The freakish deliciousness of the frosty adult beverage called “Lime in the Coconut” [insert funny 70s song lyrics]
  • The resort’s general manager, whom I’ll refer to as “Jacques,” walking the grounds and chit-chatting with guests in an allegedly French accent. The morning of the wedding, he stopped by our al fresco breakfast table and I expressed some concern that the weather would not hold up. “Do not wair-ee,” he reassured me. “You must undair-stand zee diffair-onss buh-tween REN and LEE-KWEED ZUN-EH-ZHINE.” There is little doubt in my mind he is originally from Queens.
  • Being able to ask, repeatedly, “What do you think this is, the RITZ?!”
  • The remarkable straightness of my hair
  • Experiencing a family vacation as a (quasi)grown-up
  • Beautifying with Jan, Jamie, Joanna, my new SIL Christine, Loren and the littles
  • Walking in the tropical rain at midnight to greet Dave and Rob with a welcome bottle of the aforementioned coconut rum
  • The sight of Alex and my new niece Bella carrying their petal baskets and walking the wrong way on the beach in their matching purple sundresses
  • The remarkable straightness of my hair
  • Walking down the “aisle” with Jan and Lew
  • The toasts given by Jamie, and my BILs Jeff and Craig, and the rhyming poetry of my besties Loren and Deena
  • Standing up for a few seconds on the paddle board
  • Happy, prego Kelly
  • Not puking on the Lady Lynsey cruise to St.  John (shout out to Jeff and Christine for treating us!, and to both my SILs and that random girl from Westchester for being so nice to me during my near-barf crisis)
  • Knowing that the people who matter to me the most  – my blood family, my new family, my may-as-well-be-family, my Philly family – traveled thousands of miles to be there for me

And, above all …

So I married the homecoming king ...

Hearing the barefoot, huge-toed Universal Life Minister – whose ceremony could not have been more beautiful – say, “From this day forward you will never walk alone” and knowing that it was true because of Keith.

This Side of Paradise

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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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