community · intimacy · joy · love · relationships · respect · San Francisco · school

Going to the Chapel.

In an effort to hold myself accountable, I’ll here announce
that I have an art project to complete by this Saturday, for my friend’s
wedding. And… in an effort to be honest, I mean start and complete by Saturday. It’s all good – I’ve
already sketched it out, but theory and practice are disastrously different
things.
This will be the first wedding I’ve ever attended. Somehow,
it’s just never happened that I’ve been around people who get married, or been
in the same state or country to attend. I did work with a catering company at a
few weddings last summer, but that’s not the same. Although, it did give me
some great perspective and insight into the whole rigamarole.
The first wedding I did was between two women, which was
pretty cool. But, I got to learn that you shouldn’t have speeches during
serving time at dinner, as people are really confused as to whether they should
eat or listen, and then the courses get backed up, and you’re removing plates
while people are speaking, which is hella awkward and earns more than a few pointed
glances.
I learned that if you’re having a sunset wedding in the
Sonoma hills that bugs will flock to and then drown in your water, champagne,
and wine glasses. I learned that before you blink, the whole thing is over.
This is not meant to be a diatribe on marriage or weddings, it’s just
observations – and a reminder to really be present for things like this – they
really are fleeting.
I decided that, personally, a set of anonymous towels was
not what I wanted to give this couple. I met the bride within the first year, I
think, of being in San Francisco. We met out front of a building where folks
like us gather for an hour, and I asked her for a light or a cigarette, or we
just both happened to be smoking out front, me feeling socially awkward as
hell.
We talked. And somehow, stars aligned, and we knew that we’d become really good friends. Nothing
momentous was said. No raw secrets were shared, or raucous joke exchanged. We
were just ourselves, nervous, anxious companions in the semi-dark on the
concrete steps to a massive warehouse-like building by the San Francisco Marina.
When I left, we exchanged a hug. We reflected later that
neither of us were a huggy bunch. We were, or at least I was, still much too guarded then, and hugging was restricted for the very few people I now was
beginning to consider friends. But, hug we did. And it was almost that
spontaneous act of mutual affection, an act neither of us typically allowed ourselves,
that sealed that something different was here. A friendship had been
formed in the 5 minutes it takes from lighting to filter.
More than 5 years ago now.
She’s part of the reason I went back to school. I watched
her quit her lucrative job as a store manager in a touristy spot in San
Francisco, and go back to school full time in an unusual major – or at least
completely unrelated to anything she’d been doing previously. I watched her
walk, even painfully, through the process, and in the middle of winter in 2010,
I sat on her couch – maybe it was our Christmas or New Years, or something
gathering. She cooked, we talked. I asked her why this major, how come, out of
everything in the world, she chose this?
She told me that it was a thread throughout her life. All
through her life, she noticed that she’d gravitated toward information around
this subject, she sort of watched herself nurture and feed this interest. That
phrase, a thread through my life, stuck
with me.
It was hard to imagine that someone with a lucrative and
stable job (with all the attendant mishigas of a lucrative and stable job)
would quit all that to go to school, and start nearly at the beginning of a
career. But she did. I admired her dearly for it.
And so, when, two months later, I found myself at a
crossroads in my own job world, I asked myself, What is my thread? It was
writing. I have poems that date to 2nd grade. It
was her conviction that she was insisting something to herself almost
unconsciously through her choices of hobby and interest and book perusal that
underlined that this was her arena. And so, I followed my own thread.
Because of the nature of life and distance, and full-time
schooling for us both, we don’t get to see one another often at all. It is her
I blame, full disclosure, for having hooked me on the horrifyingly ridiculous
and addictive Twilight book series –
that very night, actually back in 2010. Walking out toward the end of the
night, I glanced at her bookshelf – and there it is, the entire series. I
guffawed. I was stunned – attractive, intelligent, funny, generous, achingly cool, and
reads Twilight??
This couldn’t be right.
She asked me if I’d read it – I looked at her as if she’d
asked me if I enjoyed stepping in dog shit. No, I had not read them. Scoff,
scoff. (!) Then she gave me the first volume, and told me to try it.
And so I did. And damn her, if she hasn’t turned me into one
whom others scoff at. And I thank her for it. Cheesey, and melodramatic, and
angsty, she helped me to learn to not take myself too seriously, and to let
myself have uninhibited, puffy fun.
I am honored to be attending her wedding this weekend. I
have watched her and shared with her over the course of years, and the deep
affection that was tapped on that lonely concrete outcropping has murmured like
a brook under the surface of my life every day since. 
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