11 June 2015

The Wedding: Part Five

For those with some morbid curiosity, but mostly for myself when I want to remember the details, our wedding in five parts.

Part Five: The Weekend

I awoke Saturday morning with a clear thought in my head: “I have a husband.” I looked over at him sleeping and found the knowledge almost baffling. I was married and had a husband. How extraordinary. I slipped away to the bathroom only to wince at my reflection in the mirror. “This is why I stopped wearing makeup,” I thought to myself, as I scrubbed at the black mascara marks under my eyes.

After my teeth were brushed and face was as clean as it was going to get of makeup at this ridiculous 8.00 AM hour, I returned to bed to find C awake now. I burrowed into the blankets for a necessary minute or two before we snapped into action. He took his turn in the bathroom while I sent out messages to my bridesmaids to see if they were up and to my family to see when and where they wanted to meet to explore the city. My sister texted me back first, saying they were all getting ready. Bridesmaid H said she was on her way to the visitors center and could meet up whenever during the day. Bridesmaid M got back to my “Are you awake?” message at around 11.00 saying, “Ish.” Haha.

C started packing everything up while I made the obligatory Facebook updates (“Thank you to everyone ever for everything ever.”) and replied to another flood of messages. I hopped in the shower and said goodbye to my nicely curled hair. Nothing says back to normal life like throwing your hair into a messy bun. C left to return one of the groomsman's suits to their suit rental place while I packed up the rest of our things and quadruple checked the bathroom, fridge and closet, stopping every so often to eat an almond croissant. I was amazed at how much stuff we had accumulated in the hotel room just over a couple of days. Luckily, our hotel was nice enough to have bell hops to help you take your things down. A cab was also called for us. I love nice hotels.

A cannolo for breakfast, too? Why not?
Once we were all packed up, we took off towards our house (not really a house we own; it's family's), unloaded our things into the house, then jumped back into our car to go to the bank and deposit all the very generous gifts we had been given. We arrived back home around the same time as my family (mom, step-dad, sister, aunt, uncle and cousin) showed up. We would travel with them to Old City, but not before I let them come inside and meet the dog (our family is obsessed with dogs). On the drive, we talked about about the crazy driving in the city, like how people just park down the middle of Broad Street. It is a strange phenomenon that my family and I have seen in no other city.

We parked by the waterfront and C pointed out some of the ships. We then walked down South Street which, as any Philadelphia native knows, is one of the more interesting and active streets in the city with an assortment of shops. At one moment you could be at an ice cream store. The next shop down might sell antiques. Then there's a cheesesteak place right after that. It's very hodge-podge and very busy with young people at night. Eventually we turned north and headed towards Independence Mall, where the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are. On the walk, I became a social butterfly as at the reception, flitting between conversations with different family members, frequently returning to my baby cousin whose boredom was only alleviated by passing dogs or my water bottle, which she took unusual interest in. I tried to give her drinks from it a few times, but I think she needs a little more practice with it.

Cooler than the rest of us. 
C being a tour guide for my parents.
When I wasn't laughing at my uncle photobombing ridiculously, checking in with bridesmaids or answering questions about the city, I was simply enjoying everyone being together. Though C and I visited my family last Christmas, we all hadn't done much hanging out in the past. The weather was perfect—sunny but breezy—and I just kept thinking, “I'm really happy right now.” Maybe such a thought would only stand out if I were generally a gloomy person, and that might be true. Maybe I don't take advantage of small moments enough to realize that they are good and appreciate them. This weekend I definitely did so.

My family was leaving later that day, though, so we had to continue with our plans. We walked back to the cars and drove to Tony Luke's for cheesesteaks. Now, Tony Luke's isn't my first choice of cheesesteak places of all time: my most favorite is Russo's in Wildwood. But when in Philly, Tony Luke's is the place we go. The line was long, but luckily we got there right before another twenty people arrived. Once we'd gotten our food (I think we had a sandwich and a half per person or something crazy), we ate out of the car kind of like savages, but you do what you've got to do. Even R was trying the food, taking the tiniest bites I've ever seen.
I call this 'Siblings.' See why?
I had been in contact with M and H at this point and made plans to go to Capogiro, a gelato place, with everyone. This gelato place had been rated by National Geographic as the number one ice cream in the world. Not kidding. So I brag about it quite a bit to anyone who visits the city and tell them they have to go there. With at least seven locations, it's hard to find an excuse not to go. Some tips for anyone who does go: 1. There isn't really a line. Just get on in that crowd and marvel at the flavors. 2. Taste tests are allowed. You'll want to taste test for days, but be courteous and pick your flavors already. 3. Go big or go home. Take advantage of the larger size/s. I almost always get three flavors. Gelato is more expensive than ice cream, but this particular gelato with locally sourced ingredients is so worth it. Some helpful hints: my favorite flavors are pistachio, chocolate hazelnut and bourbon vanilla. C likes chocolate banana and grape. We sat around with our bowls and cones and caught up on the last day with each other. It was the perfect moment of the afternoon.

The moment did have to end, however, as my family was headed home that night. I returned with them to the house while my bridesmaids made plans for the evening. I must have spent ten minutes saying goodbye, being held in place by R who had become fascinated with my necklace and hugging my mom twice and crying unnecessarily. This was really it. Their leaving made it all the more apparent: C was my family now. It was time to start our lives. We walked back to the house, my family drove away and I got a hold of myself before we piled back into our car once again. This day was never ending, as we were headed to Cape May, NJ for the rest of the weekend. On the ride, my sister texted C saying she was happy she had him for a brother. Really?! I swear, everyone took pleasure in finding ways to make me wail like a silly person.

Very breezy beach.
The sun was beginning to set when we arrived at our hotel where Chicago cousins were staying. We had planned a few weeks ago to join them, having been told that there was room enough for us. To our surprise, though, an individual or a conglomeration of the family had reserved a room just for me and C. I was floored, especially after I stepped in to see it was a proper suite. It was smaller than the hotel we'd had in Philadelphia, but I liked this one better for two reasons. The first: the traditional style was much more my thing. The second: we had a balcony looking out to the ocean. You can't get that in Philly! There was also a bottle of wine standing on the kitchen counter, a gift from a cousin who couldn't make it. We spent some time looking around the room, unpacking a bit and looking at wedding photos (C had received them from the photographer the previous night). It was colder than we had anticipated and C had forgotten swimming trunks and a sweatshirt so we went for a brief shopping trip which turned into a confused one. One store had all the size labels cut out of their sweatshirts so it took us ages to find one that would fit C properly. Is there a reason people do such things? If we weren't on our third or fourth try at that point, I would have just left out of protest. We then joined all the cousins in another room and played this word search game (you have a word and have to create words from the larger word's letters) with apple cider and more shared photos.

Pretty soon, my stomach was protesting for food, so we went on the hunt. It took three attempts until we found a restaurant to take us where a really horrible guitarist was covering popular music. Everything was in the same key in some unusual half rock, half blues tone. Each song had one of us exclaiming, “He's ruining The Cure right now. I can't believe this.” or “Is this supposed to be Taylor Swift? It is Taylor Swift. Sort of.” On top of that, the food wasn't as good as the prices would suggest except for my pretzel bites (I could have eaten stale crackers at that point and thought they were marvelous, though). Ah well. It was an experience, if anything. Other sources of entertainment were the Blackhawks game (which I think had gone into overtime) and a cousin and his wife talking about how they met.

Did we have enough food?
Pretzels and poor musicians gone, we all returned to the hotel to turn in. I lay in bed that night thinking, “If these days get any longer, I don't know what I'll do with myself.” So of course, I woke up at 8AM on Sunday. I must have just gotten into the habit and it wasn't one that I could break. I hopped out of bed, ran a bath, attempted to wake C, but eventually let him sleep and went to breakfast. The hotel had one of the most impressive breakfast situations I'd ever seen. Huge buffet areas held fruit, yogurt, eggs, sausages, biscuits, blinis, toast and bagels. There were also waffle and omelet stations and a cash bar for drinks like mimosas opened at 10.00 AM. I made myself a plate (that was actually healthy, thank you) and had a very important cup of coffee.

I had only been sat a few minutes when I saw some family walking by. I got the attention of one cousin and he practically did a double take. “What are you doing here?” he asked, checking his watch. It was 9.00 AM. “Eating breakfast,” I said, pretty obviously. “Where' C?” he asked. “Still sleeping,” I shrugged into my coffee. That got him laughing and shaking his head. “Good for you,” he said, then offered for me to join them. I was rather enjoying my moment alone with a book, so I finished the chapter and my plate before bringing the rest of my coffee to their table. We all sat around talking about the hotel, the hope of better weather for swimming today and the Nuptial Mass. It was a nice time of conversation, but eventually I wanted to check on C and make sure he was up if he intended to go to the 11.00 AM Mass.

View from our balcony.

My pre-sun burn view.
Back at the room, we decided instead to go at 6.00 PM instead, so we changed into our suits and went down to the pool instead (the ocean was still too windy and cold compared to the slightly heated pool). I was intent on getting some color other than paper on my skin, so I attempted to sunbathe. If you're interested, I'm still peeling from a sunburn almost three weeks later. One cousin advised I write things down, as she was writing about the wedding in her own notebook. “You don't want to forget, and you will start to lose the details,” she warned and was completely right, as I'm writing this as long after as the sunburn has lasted. It was so ridiculous for part of it: there was some sort of towel fiasco in which the hotel either had not stocked or cleaned enough towels for all the guests and the towels were “coming in a few minutes” for nearly an hour. Part of me thought it was just silly, but another (server) part of me guessed there was probably not much the pool waiter (or whatever he was; he never said his job description, exactly, but did check on people every three minutes) could do about the purchase, cleaning or drying of towels. It became a source of amusement for a few of us (though, I think annoyance for others). Oh well. We survived.

After a good amount of time in the sun, we returned to our rooms to wash and change. C and I went with three others to mini golf where I discovered mini golf is not my strong suit. C, on the other hand, did the best of all of us. I did make a couple impressive shots, which I found redemptive. It was then nearing 6.00, so C and I separated from the others to go to Mass which was absolutely packed with tanned vacationing families. It was also strange to go to an English Novus Ordo Mass after our Nuptial Mass had been so different. Jesus showed up, though, which is the most important part.

Aaaaand sunburn. 
But worth it for this sunset.
Before dinner we had heard from groomsman T who was staying in Wildwood that we were going to meet up for dinner at one of the nicer restaurants in town. Though we had to travel twenty minutes or so, we were the first to get there to find that there was an hour and a half wait. C's eyes nearly popped out when I relayed this information to him and I couldn't believe I hadn't thought, “Did anyone make a reservation?” on Memorial Day weekend of all days. C would have been happy to eat pizza and take a walk, but most of the group was eager to go to this restaurant, so we ended up biding our time at the outdoor bar while we waited for a table. It was good in that it gave us more chance to catch up with people, but the place had these heaters (understandable, since it had been breezy) that almost made you feel burnt just standing for a few minutes.

Finally, we got a table and I opened a menu with the longest seafood list I'd ever seen. I decided on a caprese salad, crab cakes and a pinot grigio. I was sat across cousin S (remember her from Wednesday?) and it seemed like ages since I'd actually talked to her. We talked about dating in the 21st century, her work and how being married didn't feel substantially different yet. She was kind enough to share one of the coconut shrimp she'd gotten (probably the best thing I actually ate there, which is silly, since it wasn't part of my order) while we talked. It also turned out that we were given a salad course before our entrees, so I was absolutely stuffed by the time dessert rolled around. That didn't stop me, though, from getting a coffee and chocolate mousse. The amount of food and the effects of another long day were hitting me like a truck, though, and when we got back to the hotel, I practically passed out at an early 1.00 AM.

See how empty it was?

Minimally busy boardwalk.
Seven hours of sleep does a girl wonders. Yes, I woke up at 8.00 AM again. No need to waste time, I thought, as I got ready and packed some things up. In the process, C woke up and we decided to go to breakfast together. Though we hadn't planned it, we met up with three of the six family members quite randomly in the breakfast room and grabbed a large table in the corner. I traded caffeine for a waffle this time and we talked about travel plans home, as this was our last morning together. One couple was leaving about an hour from then. The rest of the family would be leaving soon after. We packed everything up, I spent a few more minutes on the balcony and then we said a couple goodbyes before loading the car and going to daily Mass at 11.00 AM. The Mass was much smaller this time and the average attendee was probably sixty years old, which made it feel a lot like the parish I went to while I lived at home with my family after university.

We then went back up to Wildwood to take a walk up the boardwalk and get Seashell ice cream (honestly, some of the best ice cream I've had) before driving back. The beach was still busy, but that wistful feeling that always accompanies the end of a trip had settled in for me, so we returned to the car and I fell asleep in the stand still traffic leaving the island (oft neglected fact: Wildwood is actually an island). I woke up to us winding through trees and eventually crossing the Benjamin Franklin bridge, headed into the bright cityscape of Philadelphia. We met up that night for dinner with the last bridesmaid who was in town and exchanged stories about the previous two days' adventures. All things must come to an end, though, and we dropped her off at her hotel with goodbye hugs and promises to catch up in August when I visit Illinois.

Coffee + chocolate peanut butter = happy.
Walking into the house felt like coming home after a trip to Europe or returning to classes after having a Summer off. The environment is familiar, but things are different. It's like getting an apartment and seeing your room for the first time and thinking about how big and foreign it looks, but eventually feeling it shrink around you and fitting into its mold as if you'd lived in that room much longer than a handful of months. It's a strange combination of same but different. Christopher and I are the same but different. I don't know if that makes any sense. Does it?

Someone recently told me: “Your life has now changed dramatically and there is a lot of change going on.” I think it's just going to be a transition period for me for a while, as a person and in how I relate to other people. It isn't just me anymore; it's me and C. I knew Christopher as a teacher, boyfriend and fiance; now I get to know him as a husband. Now I get to know myself as a wife. Getting married has seemed to get me into this “married club,” where women are giving me advice. Now I don't just relate to my mother on a parent-to-child level but on a woman-to-woman level.

I won't always have family celebrating this day with me for hours. I won't always receive messages from friends saying, “Hope your marriage bliss is everything you hoped it would be and more!” I won't always have fans cheering in the corner. Some of these married days are going to be difficult, and not because C didn't help me eat the rest of the wedding cake so that I ended up eating multiple pieces a day and still threw some out (I can blame my sweet tooth on him, yeah?). Not because I forgot to wash pillowcases and he's annoyed or now I have to wash pillowcases and I'm annoyed. Not because I walk too slowly or he walks to quickly or I stay up too late writing or he sleeps as early as a grandpa (but what I'm really talking about here is 2.30 in the morning, so keep that in perspective). We have so much to learn from each other and so much to experience. Some of it will be hard, but I'm still hoping and praying for the graces to make it through any challenges trusting each other and keeping God at the center of it.

People say you enter into a honeymoon phase for a year or two after marriage. But I don't want a two-year honeymoon phase. I want a twenty- or thirty- or fifty-year honeymoon phase! I want the very best for our marriage. I think we're off to a good start and we couldn't have had that start without the aid of so many people. From family who supported us to friends who gave incredibly of themselves to help us have a great wedding to the very readers of this blog (many of whom I have never even met!) who have sent prayers and congratulations. The love we have received is just baffling. We have so much to be thankful for and so much to be excited about.

Cheers to the first year of marriage!


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