Wednesday, September 7, 2011

P4E.214 Que Viva!

Jon and Dana (pronounced "Donna") married on an unusually warm and clear Seattle Saturday in July. Jon and Dana are prototypical Seattleites (in the best sense). He is a bicycle messenger, studying to be a physician's assistant. She is a ballerina bio-geneticist working on a cure for hepatitis C. He's got a sleeve tattoo of a Gandalf-like figure warding off wolves. She's got a sleeve tattoo with the Virgin Mary. They're vegetarians bordering on vegans. They highly value the environment, lean left politically and don't lean any way when it comes to religion. They have a husky-mix dog named Remy and a fat cat named Cilantro who share their Capitol Hill apartment.

Dana and Jon didn't have, nor did they need a wedding planner. They took charge of every detail of the wedding and the surrounding events. The wedding motif was a mash-up of Fiesta Fancy and Dia de los Muertos. They oversaw the design of the unique handmade invitation. A cartoonist friend helped with the invitation insert. Jon made what must have been well over a hundred paper flowers that decorated the wedding gazebo and the reception hall. The rehearsal dinner was at an Italian restaurant that imports all of its ingredients from Sicily.

The manager of the wedding reception hall remarked that she had never witnessed an all-male decorating team. When I looked around, I realized that she was right. Not one woman was present. Only about a dozen men hanging strings of the multi-colored paper flowers that Jon had made, blue paper stars, strands of lights, and papel picado. We arranged the tables with colorful runners and candles and sunflowers in milk bottles. We placed jars of Dana and Jon's homemade jalapeno jelly as favors at each place.

The wedding guest list included an amazing array of interesting and creative people. Bicycle messengers, scientists, artists, musicians, X-Box game programmers, tattoo artists and tattoo canvases. Friends old and new.

They were married under a gazebo in a pretty little green park. A friend named Santos, with shoulder length brown hair, became an ordained minister specifically to marry Jon and Dana. The bridesmaids wore colorful fiesta fancy dresses and the groomsmen wore khaki pants, white shirts, skinny turquoise suspenders and bolo ties. Jon choked up while reciting his vows, and so did we all. The ceremony ended with a shout of "Que Viva!"

My wife, Gwen, had offered to bake the wedding cake. She had spent the previous two days baking in the little Mt. Baker apartment that we had rented. Before the wedding we brought the cake to the reception hall and for a few anxious minutes we were locked out in the hot summer afternoon. After the wedding, we went back and made the final cake assembly, sharing precious space in the tiny kitchenette with the catering staff. I felt like we were re-enacting the final scene of a Cake Boss episode when we carried the finished product into the reception hall to cheers and applause.

There were some of the usual wedding reception moments. The tossing of the bride's bouquet, the toasts of the best man and maid of honor, the cutting of the wedding cake, the first dances. There was loud music and dancing. But thankfully, there was no cheesy DJ emceeing the proceedings. There was a booth where you could take a picture and it would be projected on the wall of the reception hall. That was fun. There was, I thought, an unusual number of people who took the microphone after the normal toasts to say a few personal words about the bride and groom. There were embarrassing and touching stories. I resisted the urge, but if I had been brave enough, I would have related one of the stories that I wrote about here: A Young Man's Tale. It seemed as though friends were talking of Jon and Dana in the past tense. And, in a way, they were. The Dana and Jon that had stepped up onto the gazebo in that pretty little green park, came back down those same steps as one. The same, but different. Individuals united by vows of love.

I won't deny there was some melancholy on my part. My oldest son. Married. I replay the song, "Sunrise, Sunset" from the movie Fiddler on the Roof in my mind:

"Wasn't it yesterday
When they were small?

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze"

My blessing is upon them. Jon, may you be a better husband and father than I have been and may the generations that follow also be better and better souls. Peace. Peace. Que Viva!

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