It was a beautiful ceremony. As much as I try not to, I have a bad, messy habit of crying at weddings (and miss my husband since he’s always working and never seems to be able to be my date!). My eyes are too sensitive to handle waterproof mascara (thus the messy part). But I could not hold the tears back and really lost it at this one when I heard the priest quietly say to the bride and groom after they had received the Eucharist, “Now you’ve shared your first meal as husband and wife.” And what a first meal to share together!
Aside from the touching wedding Mass and crazy-fun reception, other highlights of the trip included:
- Spending time with my Aunt Tina and Uncle John. We stayed in their Manhattan apartment, and they fed us well with their food, their stories, and their love. I briefly lived in their old Californian home in another lifetime and have always been close to them. During our visit it was a thrill to watch them interact with my own daughters. Madeline found an instant playmate in my Uncle John and her eyes widened with delight when he did things like find a tennis ball on the street and then started to bounce it off the buildings lining a Manhattan street.
- Madeline found comfort in Aunt Tina’s arms. On our last morning there, she was tired and completely melted down and started screeching for what we call a “time in” (where we take time to cuddle). I told her I was nursing the baby and she had to “cool off her oven” first. Aunt Tina opened her arms wide and said she would give her a time in while I was nursing. Madeline immediately scaled my aunt’s lap and melted in her arms. My aunt smiled and whispered to me, “Heaven.” They have one daughter and always wanted more children, but it didn’t work out. I received an email after our visit, and they said, “Please have more.” :-) I teased them that our visit was grandparent boot camp to prepare them for when their daughter gets married and has kiddos of her own.
- A visit to the Central Park Zoo. I had total deja vu when we stood before a wall of glass, watching polar bears pass through the water like floating ghosts. I have a faint memory of seeing polar bears swim, and I’d never really known where it came from or if it was even a real memory, but it turns out I visited this same zoo a long time ago on a family vacation.
- Getting all dressed up. As a bridesmaid, I had my makeup done. I rolled my hair and soft curls fell to my shoulders. I wore a satin dress the color of an orchid. I felt so girly. Just wish my husband had been there to see me all dolled up.
- My photo shoot! No, I’m not pursuing a second career of acting (although as a kid, I always wanted to be a writer, an actress, and/or a horse trainer), but I did need to get some head shots for my upcoming book, and my aunt is a very talented professional photographer. She generously offered to do my head shots, and I was so impressed. Astonished, really, because I typically despise getting my picture taken (unless I’m acting goofy with my kids and ignoring the camera; then I oddly feel a little more at home, but I always have a silly look on my face like the above curlers photo corroborates) and often
alwaysirrationally hate snapshots of me (probably because of all of my geeky but happy expressions).
But this was different. Aunt Tina made me feel at ease, and I actually had fun. What’s more, when she showed me the contact sheet, I liked most of the photos. Funny story: At one point, some people flew by on roller blades and shouted, “Work it, girl!” This made me chuckle because this little book of mine, I hope, will encourage women not to “work it” at all but to instead be content to be the lovely person God designed them to be – geeky expressions included.
- Experiencing New York City with Madeline. I’ve always loved New York City, but I hadn’t been there since my senior year of college. From my aunt and uncle’s apartment, we could walk to all sorts of places – sidewalk cafes, stores, city groceries where cheese, olives, and freshly baked bread were piled high, etc. It was high adventure (for Madeline and me!) to explore the streets on foot. (And Madeline had the thrill of hopping on the subway and a city bus!)
- E.B. White described the city perfectly when he wrote, “The city [of New York] is like poetry: it compresses all life, races, and breeds into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines.” The city enlivened all of my senses. I felt like a kid there because there were so many new sights, sounds, and smells to experience.
- Funny thing is, I must have not looked too much like a Southern Belle tourist taking in the sights because I had three people ask me for directions on different occasions.
- One of my best memories of exploring the city was when Madeline and I were nibbling on a scone together and she sighed happily and said, “I love life.”
- And I thought to myself, “How can I not love life, too, with that kid around me?”
And, of course, it was a joy to have Rae with us. She was quite the big girl and wanted me to take a photo of her sipping from a big-girl glass at the reception. “I didn’t spill!” she exclaimed.