Good afternoon everyone! Sorry the entry is a little late today. Last night my little sister got married, and this morning I had a choice: write a short journal entry with a terrible hangover, or wait a few hours and write a thoughtful entry with a slightly less terrible hangover. I went with the latter. Our family just got home a little over an hour ago. We left everything in the car and proceeded to eat Culver’s, sleep, and catch up on our long snuggle backlog with Ollie and Zig Zig.
Yesterday morning, my dad treated Rodney and I to breakfast at a nearby diner. I ordered Rod the Mickey Mouse pancakes off the kids menu, but you have to wonder if he was jealous of my Philly cheese steak skillet. After breakfast, we returned to my parents house. As we were walking through the garage, Rodney acknowledged my dad’s small green mini motorcycle, and after very little convincing, got Grandpa to start the engine and coast up the driveway while carrying him on his lap. After some more fiddling in the driveway, we headed inside.
Marissa and my mom had already left to go have lunch at the Oster house, and having plenty of time before we needed to join the rest of the wedding, the three of us guys just hung around the house. I knew Rod was going to have a trying day wearing a suit, sitting through a ceremony, and staying up late, so I did my best to let him decide how we spent the time. I drank a beer as Rod and I lazily kicked a soccer ball around the backyard. There’s a golf course in their backyard, and it was actually pretty entertaining to watch the different types of athletes that would play through. After Rodney had enough, we made our way inside and quietly watched TV.
Finally the time came, and we needed to get ready for the wedding. It’s a lot of pressure getting a kid ready for big events alone, not having your spouse around to check your work and validate everything. I gave Rodney a rinse in the shower, put on his suit, and packed my backpack with everything that could possibly interest and comfort a three year old throughout an all day wedding. I was relieved that Rodney didn’t mind the suit. After suffering through so many pre-church meltdowns, I had assumed that anything that wasn’t a t-shirt was worthy of a fit. But mysteriously, Rodney was fine with the button down dress shirt, vest, and a clip on tie. He may have even enjoyed feeling dapper for a change.
We drove to the church, my dad navigating the chaotic twists and turns of Geneva, me reviewing the itinerary on my phone, and Rodney babbling about things he could see out the window. As we got closer to College church, we could see the bridesmaids in their blue dresses shuffling around on the Wheaton College lawn, posing for pictures. We parked, and Rodney and I spent some time wandering around the church while my dad set up his guitar. I was wearing my suit, but I still needed to track down one of the groomsmen for my tie. I felt a little strange walking around in a crisp blue suit with my dress shirt casually unbuttoned, like a magician killing time before a private show.
We met up with Marissa, and after I finished getting dressed, we decided to use up the last half hour to go for a little walk around our old campus. Marissa and I were both surprised at how natural it felt to be back at Wheaton, and luckily it was homecoming weekend, so we didn’t look very out of place wandering around with a toddler. For a moment, as we were walking the steps down from the cafeteria into the student center, it felt like we were college kids lazily checking our mailboxes, wandering around campus, and killing time before evening plans. Wheaton College is one of the only places on earth where I knew Marissa before she my wife. I forget that she used to just be my girlfriend. Walking around campus with her took me to a time where the only thing I knew about her was that she was pretty, and that she agreed to date me.
We made our way back to the church. The doors would be opening in a few minutes, and I had to take my position as one of the ushers. As I stood by the door and waited, I did my best to mentally prepare to be very friendly and outgoing. From every other introvert I’ve talked to, I think we all have this common phobia sticky social situations, like calling someone by the wrong name, not recognizing someone that that you’ve known for a really long time, or mistaking someone’s gender. I mean, everybody hates those moments, but I think introverts are extra sensitive, lacking the social finesse to slip out of them. Our only defense mechanism is preparation. In my head, a ran through names, reviewed the seating, and silently rehearsed my wording.
Before the wedding started, I saw my little sister Sarah. She was play fighting with Rodney, who brought a light up Styrofoam sword. She looked beautiful. You can only talk about your sister’s wedding for so long before you need to fall onto a cliché, but let’s just say that the version of Sarah that exists in my childhood memories - playing video games and making goofy home videos - compared to the version of Sarah that was waiting in that church - beautiful, talented, funny, and thoughtful - was a powerful contrast that makes me weepy-eyed just thinking about it.
The doors opened, and the gentle violin music was soon drowned out by people gathering in the foyer. Ian and I sat everyone on time, and out of all the people I hugged and greeted, I only had one forgiveable faux pax. When my parents’ friend and finance guy arrived, I didn’t recognize him and asked bride or groom?, and from the puzzled look on his face I suddenly got the sense that I should have already known the answer. Moments earlier, I had convinced myself that playing it off like sarcasm, as if I was just asking to be funny, was a good back up plan. It was not a good backup plan. Nate graciously reminded me that we’ve met a few times, and he admitted he only partially recognized me. What a class act, huh?
Once the ceremony began, my final wedding task was to make sure Rodney made it down the aisle. I wasn’t sure how he’d do. Sometimes Rodney likes attention, and other times he detests it. Luckily, on Sarah’s wedding day he liked it. As we walked after his flower girl cousin, he gingerly waved to the crowd and smirked.
The rest of the ceremony was beautiful. Sadly, I don’t have any word pictures for you. I confess that I spent most of the time trying to keep Rodney from losing his mind. Rodney, Alice, and Frankie sat in a row together with me and Jeremy on the outside, and I think we did an admirable job containing the chaos of crumbling graham crackers, toy sharing disputes, and crayons rolling on the floor. I laughed with Jeremy later about how everything that happens while you’re watching a toddler feels like an anxious blur.
After the ceremony, Marissa and I made our way to the car and sat in the parking lot for a few minutes. Rod was getting burnt out, and we wanted him to fall asleep so he’d have enough energy to get through dinner. He ended up having plenty of time to sleep. It took me a little over a hour to make the twenty minute drive. Even though I grew up and learned to drive in Chicago, apparently I’m still not savvy enough to improvise around its closed roads, construction, and rush hour traffic. I pulled up the front door, letting Marissa run into the country club barefoot just in time to begin the reception.
Rodney struggled through the first half of the reception. The plan was to keep him there until midnight and hope he’d fall asleep in the corner, but after falling out of his booster seat and being too scared to dance, Marissa made the call to take him home early. She told me later that that he was visibly relieved to be driving home with mom in his pajamas, and he fell asleep immediately. I stayed behind. I had so much fun catching up with people from my past life, especially now that I was treated more like a peer. One thing I’ve noticed about my late twenties is that adults finally start to treat you like one of their own. Or maybe it’s because when you hang out with someone you haven’t seen in years, you have no choice but to just start over and get to know each other again from scratch. While I was catching up with a friend that used to be a church junior high leader of mine, she was telling Marissa about the first time I went to summer camp as a freshman to help out with junior high. I stepped off the bus and greeted her Hello, colleague, as if the teacher/student relationship we had was completely turned on its head now that I wasn’t attending camp as a student. Weirdly enough, that smart-ass comment I made in high school was truer now than ever. Friends’ parents, parents’ friends, and former church leaders alike were all my colleagues now.
Sarah was whisked off to Hawaii by my gallant new brother in-law, and the night that followed is a blurry tale of dancing, tequila, cigars, and late night white castle. Looking back on the weekend, social faux paxs, exhausted toddlers, and piercing hangovers are such a small part of Sarah’s big day. I have remind myself to step back and appreciate what this day meant for my little sister. Sarah, your wedding was beautiful and I’m so happy for you. Phillip, welcome to the family. To the both of you, remember as much as you can - because time is relative, and it moves fast when your heart is full.
As for me, I have a car to unpack and probably three loads of laundry to do. Later we’ll order a pizza, but I’ll lay off the tequila this evening. For some reason that doesn’t sound good to me right now. Thanks for reading, colleagues. I’ll see you at the next wedding.