July 11, 2011
Always a Bridesmaid
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Just kidding.
This past weekend I had the honor of being chosen to participate in the wedding of a dear friend from DC, a friendship neither diminished by our five years apart since my relocation to Jersey, nor the two hundred miles of interstate that now geographically separates us. I was thrilled to be asked, and since it’s pretty clear my life is complicated, this says a great deal about the woman requesting my presence. I began six months ago to pull off the seventy-two hours of coverage required to keep both kids alive and happy, and due to the generosity of friends and family, we accomplished our goal. All went well, and my boys were thrilled to revel in the constant attention usually paid to them when their parents are out of the house. Jeff and I were equally ecstatic about the opportunity to sleep past 5:00, as well as the opportunity to string two consecutive sentences together without interruption.
Clearly, the weekend was a win-win for all.
I admit, on Sunday, when the cobwebs cleared a little and we were headed once again toward the duties of parenthood, I felt this post clamoring violently for attention in my brain on the long ride home. I took some notes as Jeff thankfully drove, and I struggled to retain my thoughts long enough to set them irreparably in ink. I find my little vignettes sometimes have a theme to them, and I also find that frequently the one I conclude with is not the one I had in my head when I began. To be honest, that could be in part because by the time I’ve finished I’ve often forgotten what I had in mind when I started. More often however, it’s just that my writing frequently takes uncharted twists and turns, and is yet one more thing I seem to have very little control over.
Much like everything else in my life.
I could tell you this post is going to be about unions and families, and in part that would be true. Despite our closeness, the first time I met the future husband of my friend was at the church prior to the rehearsal. We had a moment of rushed introduction where it was clear we knew a great deal about one another, a meeting of the minds which resulted in all of my hopes for my friend’s future being completely validated. Witnessing the strength of the connection between these two individuals, coupled with the way they complement one another in every aspect of their existence, was bounty enough. Watching the way two families blended together until they appeared one seamless stream of relations was an even further unexpected, and welcome, blessing as well.
Trust me, the proof is in the reception footage.
I could share with you that this post is about teachers (shouldn’t every post be about teachers), for I was fortunate enough to reconnect with a group of professionals who once comprised what my co-worker aptly describes as the “dream team”. This compilation of educators was ever-changing, never static, but came together during what we think of as the “Camelot years”, which took place under the direction of two different but dynamic principals who in their own unique ways pushed us to their limits. For the most part we were young, as yet unencumbered by our own progeny, and simply fueled by a singular passion to create the greatest educational clime ever. At our facility there were operas created from scratch by ten-to-twelve-year-olds, productions eventually performed on the stage of a local university. We held a school-wide museum that covered every square space of the massive second floor designed to accommodate half of the twelve hundred students who went there, complete with live exhibits and docents. Creativity simply had no limits.
And yes, we’re talking public education here.
I could inform you this post is about acceptance, as I realized that eight years have indeed transpired since I gave birth on that benevolent and prophetic spring day so many years ago. While I was attempting to convince my children that the world was indeed a fun place to reside I’ve put my career on hold, and in the process been eclipsed by many of the professionals I worked with “back in the day”. I was seated with the young woman brave enough to take over my classroom for those last seven weeks of school while I took maternity leave, a lovely individual who is now an assistant principal helping to command an entire school and every classroom within it. The bride herself was my mentee many eons ago, and has recently conquered yet another step in the steep ladder of educational administration herself. Bossing around big people was once my dream too. For a variety of complicated reasons, in all honesty, I can say it is unreachable for me now.
And finally, I can also say I’m at completely at peace with this truth.
Obviously, today’s post is about all of these things, but in the end, it will really be about friendship, about a hard-won and enduring bond. It’s about finding those people in your life who will remain with you no matter how infrequently you call or visit, or how tired you seem when contact is finally made. It’s about a woman without her own children, who nevertheless comprehends the complications and disconnects of this often chaotic life as much as it’s possible to do so. It’s about a foundation built so solidly on shared experience that new friends, careers, and even husbands will never take it down.
Finally, it’s about her generosity of spirit and a limitless compassion I’ve come to depend upon over the years, and know without reservation will thrive with resilience in the years to come.
I’ll close this now with the tag line from my mother’s wedding toast (I’m sure she won’t mind I’ve stolen from my own words), as well as heartfelt wishes for a wonderful honeymoon to be spent in the redolent beauty of Hawaii (good luck in that shark cage).
Karen and Mark, may you live long, love well, and laugh often.
I am completely confident you will.