Last week, I wrote of the frustration of looking for love in all the wrong places. Which, for me, seems to mean anywhere. But this week I write of love found, which, while not for me, still impacted me deeply.
One of my BFFs, my college roommate for all four years of undergrad at Middlebury, got married for the second time this past weekend in a Covid-appropriate ceremony overlooking the Hudson Valley on a sparkling, windy, postcard day. So many things about this event brought so many of us a joy that we’d sorely missed of late.
The curious feeling of having something fun to do woke me early Sunday morning, followed by the realization that that meant having to put on not only a dress but a bra and makeup too. And care how my hair looked. The bra felt odd and restrictive. The makeup made me feel as pretty as I can muster myself to feel about myself. And a wide-brimmed straw hat to protect me from UV rays during the outdoor ceremony prevented me from having to deal with the hair issue other than finding a pretty, pearly white scrunchy. The dress echoed that worn by Julia Roberts at the end of Pretty Woman. Brown, sleeveless, belted at the waist, and polka-dotted. I intend no comparison of myself to Ms. Roberts, but the dress was a dead ringer. I even painted my toenails gold for the occasion, pulling out all the stops.
Happy, too, because I would not have to attend the carefully choreographed event alone. My eldest, who worked for my friend’s firm for a summer and still does quite a bit of freelance writing for her, joined me. Not only as “plus one” but as the entertainment. She knows first-hand of his talent as a singer-songwriter and asked that he perform four songs during the ceremony.
We left early for the just-over-two-hour drive to the hilltop aerie that her parents purchased eons ago and where she and her fiancé have ensconced themselves to live and work while the coronavirus threatened their home borough of Manhattan (she is in a high-risk category). North on 7, West on 84, and north on the terrifying Taconic...each mile rearranged my molecules. There is a point on 84 where a vast vista opens up like a Jack-in-the-Box popping up with sudden surprise. My shoulders retreated from my ears and my breathing deepened at this reminder that the rest of the world indeed still exists outside of our cling-wrapped bubble.
We arrived to signs directing us to park on the soft moss and wild grass that surrounds the one-level modest modern home that always evokes Frank Lloyd Wright for me. From the car, we approached the mindfully arranged venue: yellow “caution” tape clearly divided the outdoor space into sections; white folding chairs each featured a guest’s name and were spaced adequately from one another; masks and hand sanitizer sat in a basket, and caterers and the photographer donned gloves as well as face coverings.
The panorama of green flora and impossibly blue sky dotted with wispy clouds outdid the breathtaking landscape on 84. They had to delay the wedding one day due to inclement weather on Saturday. The winds blew in their favor on Sunday, quite strongly in fact, ushering out the heavy heat and humidity that has plagued so much of the summer and ushering in a cool, crisp lighter air. It seemed to me quite a good omen. I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to be chilled, in so many ways, and this was a good chill, a warm chill.
My son sang a Bob Dylan tune and one of his own to start the festivities. The couple walked down the aisle to him performing Landslide and back up to Keith Urban’s The Fighter. His voice rang clear over the competing wind and provided the perfect backdrop to the celebration of love. My roomie, who had sampled many dressed to find the perfect one for this, her second (and, she tells me, final) marriage, looked radiant. Her simple off-white, caped dress highlighted her red mane and the tasteful selection of meaningful jewelry, including a beautiful lion pendant that her now-husband gave her to honor both her new business venture and their new love venture. He was dapper in classic khaki-button down-tie-and-loafers. A friend of his from college officiated, and the bride and groom read vows they’d penned to one another. The moment could not have been more loving and lovely.
But beyond celebrating their love and their union, the very few of us in attendance celebrated something more. We celebrated leaving home for the first time in months. We celebrated breathing fresh country air without fear of infection. We celebrated seeing other people in person. We celebrated love – something that has been so lacking in the news of late. We toasted them with (not too much) pink champagne and hoped that our sense of hope and happiness would last as we all drove back to the uncertainties of the autumn and beyond.
Photos courtesy of Diane Lowman