Last Friday, my parents hosted a beautiful celebration for Dana and me and the fact of our quiet and intimate wedding in March.
(You might remember that this time last year, they threw a similar party for my brother and his wife, who were married several months prior on the west coast.)
Everyone seems surprised to learn this tidbit, but here it is: I struggle with crowds. Even crowds of people I know and love (though maybe a bit less so in those cases). Blame it on my introversion or my high sensitivity or my chemical composition, which has skewed toward anxiety since childhood. I struggle with crowds and I struggle with being the focus, the center of attention, in any situation.
Friday's party was a bit of a stretch for me in both regards.
Surrounded by close to 130 people, Dana and I were the guests of honor.
What shouldn't surprise you is that a person with a temperament such as mine wouldn't want a conventional wedding—in fact, would shy away from such an affair in favor of something small, quick, and low-key. I've joked that I'm missing the bride gene, but maybe what I've meant when I've said that is: I'm an intensely private person. (That might surprise you; after all, I do write a newsletter and use social media.) I like to have (the illusion of) control over what people know about me and what parts of me they can access and when. Marrying Dana felt like a thing that I wanted to keep for myself.
But celebration is a special thing, an important thing, I get it. Since I was a kid, my mom has always said we have to fill our happy banks whenever we can; when times get dark, as they invariably do at one point or another, we need to be able to draw on those happy memories to get ourselves through. Perhaps this is why I so love being a wedding guest: I get to stock up on celebration, on all that joy, but without having to navigate any of the attention and fanfare.
Our wedding, the actual day of it, was ours; we didn't have to split ourselves to circle a room and thank everyone. We kissed in a courtroom and held hands and our marriage certificate between us; we danced down the sidewalk and filed our paperwork; we took our families to eat our favorite nachos and tacos and get buzzy on margaritas; we wandered the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth and took silly pictures of each other with our phones; later that night, the small group of us sat in our wedding clothes on squeaky pleather-upholstered seats in a beer garden. It was our day, truly.
So, when my parents asked Dana and me if they could host a celebration in late December in our honor, we were nervous (my struggles aren't mine alone; Dana shares them) but we agreed. Social anxiety or not, it was impossible to view a party as anything other than a beautiful offering. There would be a banquet hall of people holding happy wishes in their hearts, hope and kindness and joy intended for us, specifically. There was also the part we would play in the offering, Dana and I: giving that roomful of people the opportunity to share their love with us. In fact, to love us.
An exchange. Co-creating a joyful memory that every single one of us could add to our own happy bank.
The celebration was amazing. I don't know that I've ever felt so cared for by so many people all at once.
If you've been married before, if you've had a wedding, perhaps this is nothing new to you; this is, maybe, the very reason you held a wedding. It's likely you arrived at my conclusion long before me. Even still, what a thing for me, for Dana, to have found in the last week of 2016.
I'd love to hear what you found in the last week of 2016 and what will come with you into 2017. Hit 'reply' and share with me.
Walked all the way down to the beach with Dave and Sarah Jo; watched seagulls drop mussel shells on the concrete, then swoop in to pick out their meal; read one-third of the library's copy of In the Company of Women (still working my way through it; fabulous interviews); spent several days on Susannah Conway's Unravel Your Year workbook and got clear on what 2016 was and what 2017 might be; finished reading A Three Dog Life (it is such a beautifully written memoir, I have to recommend it); completed a surprisingly difficult 500-piece garden scene jigsaw puzzle with Dad, Mom, Dana, Dave, and Sarah Jo; learned to play Modern Art (and won!); hugged more good people than I can count
"It felt like a dead end, but a good dead end. It occurred to me that I didn’t actually have a problem. Reading their straightforward answers left me with the distinct sensation of reaching the end of a wrong path, free to head back to the main road and use it instead."
An elegy for everything
Ann Wood on list-making: "I highly recommend closing out the year with a list of what you have accomplished—a thorough, searching inventory of all the big and little things that went by without properly congratulating yourself." (This was from her newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.)
“Every find is unique and I’m constantly aware that I’m probably the first person to touch it in centuries, since it was lost or thrown away." At some point in this lifetime, I'd like to go mudlarking on the Thames foreshore.
My internet friend, Kate McCombs, wrote a wonderful post about 20 things that happened to her in 2016 that she's decided to celebrate—including her divorce—because they brought her joy, growth, and gratitude.
One of my favorite things ever is goofing around in a photo booth and getting a strip of pictures as a souvenir. Lucky for us, my mom had the genius idea to rent one for the banquet hall. It was a huge hit. (Also: We get a digital copy of every strip. That's my kind of guest book.)