an inescapable conclusion

Yesterday, Gaoo had us over for our wedding cake tasting. The Fella and I sat in her pretty front room, the sun warming our backs. We paged through her albums of gorgeous cakes and batted around ideas the way kittens bat around colorful balls of yarn, all while we ate dainty slices of cake and tiny chocolate cups filled with frosting off a delicate floral porcelain plate.

(Gaoo’s an artist and a genius, incidentally. I already knew that in an abstract way, but I understood it viscerally last week when she glanced at my preliminary sketch and immediately added a whole new dimension that blew my mind.)

As I ran errands after the tasting, I discovered that a local housewares boutique sells the exact jars I wanted for our (non-floral, non-perishable) centerpieces. The owner, who knows me by sight, generously offered a ridiculously sweet deal on a dozen. (Buy local, kids!) Her offer changed “Hey, that’s a great idea! Now how can I do it cheaper?” to “Hey, that’s a great idea! Let’s do it!” So, more than four months before the wedding, we already have our very simple table decor lined up.

invitdryingAnd we finished the invitations!

The completion of these first few gewgaws and trinkets nudges me toward an inescapable conclusion: holy cats, we’re having a wedding. That must mean we’re getting married.

Yikes.

And Yippee!

A few more details remain, of course. For example, we haven’t settled on a first dance song. So far, we’ve eliminated:
Yakkety Sax
The Final Countdown
– The Futurama remix of Rocketship.
So, three songs down, eleventy billion to go.

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with walnuts

In which she describes a love for the ages.

I had my first bridal meltdown just a few days after the engagement.

Okay, okay — it was a whole-world meltdown, and only incidentally bridal: the computer had crashed, my back was spasming, a loved one had snubbed me, the kitchen was a mess, I’d had a spat online, and life seemed out of control for just one evening. Topping it off, I’d started to check out (and to price, yikes) reception venues, and I’d contemplated the Lovecraftian heaps of chiffon and satin that any bridal boutique would try to foist upon me if I should enter looking for a lace-trimmed hanky or other modest bridal accoutrement.

And then I started crying. Not decorous, soft-focus bridal-portrait tears rolling down joy-pinked cheeks. No. Great honking sobs rippled through with snot-rattles.

And The Fella, who is the best thing in my world, handed me a roll of tissue, turned out the light, and laid down with me in the quiet dark. Quiet except for my snorting sobs, anyway. And we talked peacefully and with love, and without anybody calling me crazy, which was a nice touch and a mark of great restraint.

The conversation went on for a while, winding around too many concerns to catalogue, but it ended with this exchange:

The Fella: And everyone will be happy for us! And what will we say to anyone who isn’t?
Elsa: [sniffling] Um. “Cram it with walnuts, cranky”?
The Fella: Okay! Yes!

I suspect the simple, silently repeated phrase “Cram it with walnuts” will let me smile my way through many hours of party-planning, routine elevator chat with acquaintances puzzled by the absence of an engagement ring, and inescapable conversations about what we must have at the wedding.

If you arrive at the wedding to find a glassine bag full of candied walnuts at your place, or a bowl of gold-leafed walnuts as a centerpiece, or a maple-walnut wedding cake, you’ll know why.

Be happy for us, celebrate with us, or allow me to provide your walnuts.

princess for a day

It turns out that planning a wedding is a lot of work, and more than a little unsettling. As I skip from website to website, researching possible wedding locations, budget menus, and the boring nuts-&-bolts-y stuff like (sigh) plate rentals, I keep bumping up against an odd and (to me) nauseating sentiment: splash pages for various caterers, coordinators, and vendors often include tacit or explicit reassurance that on your wedding day, you’re a princess.

I don’t know where to start with this, so let’s start with yuck!

And now let’s look at some underlying assumptions:

The caterers need not address themselves to anyone but the princess the bride the broad, and possibly her mother; the groom is incidental to the process.

Every woman wants to be wrapped up in gossamer and fairy dust on her wedding day. (A quieter assumption, but no less pervasive: she’ll be sporting some pretty fierce high-compression undergarments to keep the telltale bulges of humanity under wraps.*)

This iconic creature, The Bride, is made of spun sugar and fractious nerves, and needs soothing.

Um. Did I say “yuck”? Oh. Well, good. Because yuck!

BOUNCY-CASTLE But now it’s true-confessions time. It’s true that I have no desire for the sparkly dress with the swooping skirt or the tiara or the horse-drawn carriage, because, y’know, I finished playing Cinderella when I was a child.

But.

I confess that I must have some lurking princess fantasy, given the pangs I suffered upon admitting to myself that we could not justify renting a bouncy castle.

*I’m uncharacteristically blasé about getting a dress. In fact, I’ve established only one inflexible guideline: I must be able to wear normal underthings with it. Oh, and to sit on the ground with kids.

an ever-fixèd mark

In brief, since I do
purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any
purpose that the world can say against it; and
therefore never flout at me for what I have said
against it; for man is a giddy thing, and this is my
conclusion.

It’s true! The Fella and I are making it official: we’re engaged to be married.

In the recent months, The Fella and I have had some discussions about us, about marriage, about commitment and family and forever. We had come to a happy, informal understanding about The Future.

And then, as he always does, he managed to surprise me.

Amazing: after our earnest talks, and with our future equitably (and, some would say, unromantically) decided between us, the moment retained a luster of surprise and magic.

After he proposed, a moment passed while I silently gawped and got teary-eyed…

.. and then I noticed that he was anxiously awaiting the answer.

I suppose that, in the deep recesses of my brain, I thought the balanced, intelligent decisions we had made along the way would strip the sparkle from the moment. It delights me no end to see how wrong I was. In the moment, all our sensible talk washed away, leaving only sensibilities: I was stunned, and he was nervous.

Love is crazy.

For Gaoo, who is sure to ask: the opening blockquote is Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing, and the title is from Shakespeare’s sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixèd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

Its aptness for us is hard to overstate: so far, our relationship has unwaveringly weathered death*, depression, illnesses and traumas of varying degrees, chronic pain (and its attendent crankiness), post-traumatic stress disorder, richness, poorness, something borrowed, something blue… oh, wait.

If it’s feasible to work sonnet 116 into our vows, believe me, it will be done — not only to acknowledge the love of Shakespeare that finally brought us together, but because I would dearly love to intone “Edge! Of! Doom!” during the ceremony.

*Um. Not ours. Obviously.

shower

I’d never been to a real bridal shower before, with balloons and buffets (note the plural) and centerpieces in the bridal colors. It’s so… girly: young women in heels and sparkly jewelry, older women in Coldwater Creek suits, and everything with a big bow on it, including the bride-to-be. The “activities” masqueraded as games, but actually constituted a highly regimented enforced feminization, and all the prizes were effusively floral bath products and arcane styling tools.

I won a couple of prizes and was inexplicably given several more: products to strip my exterior roughness, lotions to smooth me, eyeshadow and glossy lip stuff to make me slippery and shiny, and a pretty parcel full of metal prongs and barbs to strip off the horny and hairy bits of my face, feet, and hands. I was first tickled, then bewildered, and finally (secretly) a trifle panicked at this windfall of girly goods heaped on my lap, presumably intended to induct me, willy or nilly, into the ranks of girlkind.

But there was unlimited cake and coffee, so it all balances out.

Family happiness

I recently returned from a family vacation in [insert idyllic town name here], Maine. It was, well, idyllic.

My mother rented a summer house for a week, and I stayed there with my parents, my sister N, brother-in-law J., and their small children. Sister C. and her family were at their home an hour away, and brother B., who lives in Idyllic Town, obligingly provided a party on Saturday night by getting married. Very thoughtful, that, especially since the gal he married is aces! If I had met T. under other circumstances, I would have been looking for an excuse to get to know her better; how convenient to have that excuse take the form of a legal and social contract.

So much to blog, so little coherence. Expect bursts of delight and confusion over the next few days as I recount the endless joys of family togetherness, rocky beaches, little nephews and nieces, and missing PortaPotties. The only sore spot is that brother J. and his fiance M. were unable to make it over from Slovenia for the week (which included his birthday). We missed you!