Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Brother's Wedding

There are times in life when everything just seems to fall into place. When you look around, smile, and say “thank you God.” For me that moment came at age 33, as I stood up on an old wooden deck, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, watching my brother and his beautiful fiancé take their vows. As I watched the tears fall from my brother’s face, I felt so much love and peace inside. This weekend wasn’t just about my brother getting married, it was about so much more, and the details are as heartwarming as they are hysterical.

Thursday night: We land in Ft. Lauderdale and my aunt, uncle, and grandmother pull up in their 1990 white Conversion van. To entertain the kids, my aunt turns on the VHS machine (which in 1990 was included for a small extra cost) and we begin to watch a video titled “Wild America.” The sound of a lion eating a cheetah barely drowns out my daughter screaming. I realize we need to feed the kids quickly, and by something I consider the opposite of a miracle, we end up at a Chili’s. We order a round of appetizers that totals at least 15,000 calories and 750 grams of fat. The restaurant was full of large women in jean shorts and old men in tank tops…it was so good to be home! We wait almost two hours for our food to be delivered and the waiter finally says, “Sorry, we just got slammed. Tonight, is a school fundraiser…each time someone order potatoes skins or nachos, 10% of their bill goes to a charity.” Who am I to complain?

We check into our hotel, the kids jump on the beds, and my daughter almost flies through one of the sliding glass doors. My dad comes to help us with the kids, takes them for a walk, loses them on the beach, tries to whistle to get them back (like he does with his golden retriever), and eventually locates his grandchildren. He is exhausted and brings them back to our hotel room…approximately ten minutes after they had first left. They go to bed at 1:30am...awesome.

Friday: For some scientific reason, the kids stay on West Coast time at night and East Coast time in the morning. One of the lovely things they don’t tell you about in all those parenting books. We swim in the pool, we swim in the ocean, and we have great family fun. I try to do all of this while not getting my hair wet. We go through the rehearsal, everybody does great, and then unfortunatley, my daughter starts to cry. She can’t understand why she isn’t wearing her fancy flower girl dress and quickly begins to meltdown. In order to keep things under control, I start to give her candy and treats every time she does something right…just like you would for a dog.

After the rehearsal, we board a party bus with 60 people. When we get on, the bus has air conditioning. After thirty guys in suits sit down, hip-hop music gets played, and four cases of Michelob Ultra get drunk, the air conditioning doesn’t work so well. For the next hour, we resemble a reality T.V show…imagine Big Brother + MTV Road Trip (with no air condition) + Survivor (the water went quickly). We head to Buccan, the best restaurant ever, and eat the greatest meal of my life. My dad makes a nice toast and my husband asks for a doggy bag. I wasn’t sure about the etiquette on the last one, but I was in a happy mood and let it go. Can you say team player?

We get back on the bus and ride home. We dance to different songs, take lots of pictures, and enjoy ourselves. I loved every minute. We get back to the hotel and everyone discusses where to go next. I say, “Hey I am going to run upstairs, change, go to the bathroom, and come back down.” I run upstairs, change, go to the bathroom…and crawl into bed. The good news is, no one noticed I was gone. The bad news is, no one noticed that I was gone.

Saturday: I wake up after a 5 glorious hours of sleep, only 6 hours short of what I needed, and head down to the pool with my kids. I spray my kids and myself with as much sunscreen as possible. Then I spray my husband and really focus on his head, which has recently become a ‘highly exposed’ spot. We are greased up, glowing white, and ready to enjoy the day. We go in the ocean and jump around as a family…if you didn’t know better you might have thought we were Midwestern tourists filming a commercial for a Sandals Resort or Carnival Cruise Line.

After getting my hair and make-up done, I go back to the resort to get the kids ready. When I see my daughter, I notice she has terrible sunburn. I ask my husband what happened and he says, “You never told me I needed to reapply sunscreen…how was I supposed to know?” I want to say terrible and mean things to him, but I hold back. I remind myself this day is about new beginnings and love. Eventually we are dressed and ready to go. Because we are all dressed up, and in a beautiful location, I force my family to take a million pictures. My great hope is that at least one will turn out well. I scream at them, they scream at me, and eventually we are done. As we speak, my favorite picture is being blown up at Walgreens…the only downside is that my husband's head is cut off above his eyebrows. At this point, I don’t really give a damn.

The wedding is beautiful, the kids do their thing, and the bride and the groom are glowing. After the dances, my brother grabs the mic, and serenades his new wife with “I Love You” by Climax Blues Band. The song is passionate, amazing, and slightly off key. It makes me cry and cheer and laugh. The party begins, the band is awesome, and someone breaks out the worm. Around 11pm, the bride and groom surprise the guests with a touch of the Islands. As we stare outside, we watch as a steel marching band, made up of twelve African Americans in full costume and headdresses, begin to march into the country club. All of the extremely white guests rise to their feet and dance with such passion and rhythm that I believe many may have surprised themselves. As I watch this amazing event I think to myself, “Why is it that white people always include African American bands when they want to have fun, yet it doesn’t work the other way?” I have yet to meet a young African American couple that said, “Hey Honey, you know what our wedding needs? A little spirit and fun! Why don’t we invite a white band to come and play some Billy Joel, you know, liven up the place?” Nothing against Billy Joel, but white people still have so much work to do…

The groom makes his 3rd toast to his wife, and tells her again he would be nothing without her. I ask my husband if he feels the same way and he says “Of course.” I'm pretty sure he’s lying, but because I've have had 10 vodka sodas and only one mushroom cap, I accept it and move on. We party all night, go to bed at 6am, and wake up with the kids at 7:30am. I have lost both contacts, can barely walk, and feel like I might die without more sleep…

But at that moment, nothing really matters. Life is good, my brother is married, and I have a sister. I stumble into my bathing suit and put sunscreen on the kids. I will sleep another day…

Clegg and Kelli…thanks for an amazing weekend and an inspiring love affair…

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