Two Trains, One Plane, No Automobiles

If you’d like to believe that there’s a little hope in the world, get invited to a wedding.

If you’d like to believe that there’s a lot of hope in the world, get invited to a wedding where the couple getting married were high school sweethearts, went their separate ways, each got married once, then divorced, then got back together and discovered the spark was still there… it was an overnight love story that took over 25 years to get to the next act.  The hope, you see, is in their eyes… Jody’s as he sees his bride walking down the aisle – well, sidewalk (at this outdoor wedding) – and Fawn’s as she looks back. 

As it was an outdoor ceremony – at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center, which faces the Amtrak Washington-to-Richmond line – there were two brief pauses for passenger trains to go by… a little straining of ears as one plane goes overhead… but oddly, no cars honking, which you’d expect at a wedding, I think.

I have a theory, which I’d been developing for a while, that unless you’re the feature part of a wedding, you’ll probably know about 20% of the people there.  That was about the number I hit… actually, a little more, I think… and reconnecting with people I haven’t seen much of due to my oddball work schedule was almost as much fun as watching the happy couple being as giddy as teenagers…

Since I don’t do cameras – I’ve found that either I can watch the event and be part of it, or take pictures, but not both – my memories will be in words… so in no particular order…

Quick sidebar: unless you are here in the RIC, and you know me and the people I’m friendly with, the names aren’t going to mean much.  It’s just how I’m anchoring the memories.  Thanks for your indulgence.

The first folks I saw were Mesha, and her husband Andy – who’ve done something most people only threaten to do… they’ve gone off the grid.  No social networking… which meant there was a lot to catch up on.  Mesha’s a Baltimore girl, who was making the ultimate sacrifice – giving up the Ravens on TV to attend the wedding.  She did promise not to check the game score until after the ceremony…

Once caught up, I look over to the left, I see Stacey doing a little wrangling of her own – her 6-month-old son, Jackson, looking dapper in a vest/tie combo that happens to match his dad, Aaron’s, outfit.  Aaron had to be convinced as to just how awesome that was.  He was the only one.

From there, I move over to Jeff and Jennifer.  Jeff’s an actor/comedian/teacher/Renaissance man, who just finished a production of “Merchant of Venice” that I missed because of the above-mentioned work schedule… usually, I see Jeff performing, so whenever I run into him with his wife, he reintroduces me as if it were the first time we’d been in the same place… we wind up agreeing that the memory is the second thing to go, and that we can’t remember the first…

We’re almost up to the ceremony, and here come Kelly and her boyfriend, Daniel, who’ve been together almost forever, it seems.  I first met Kelly when she was a teenager at ComedySportz… and while she’s grown into a striking young woman, she’s still as bubbly as she was as a teen… oh, wait, it’s showtime…

I guess if you’re going to have a ringbearer, she has to be (1) adorable and (2) nervous. Little Jayda was. The path she took from the front of the Arts Center property to the steps where the wedding was being held most resembles a Bil Keane Family Circus Sunday “follow little Billy” special. Halfway to the ceremony… and back… three-quarters… and back… all the way there… and then a sprint back… there were several volunteer ringbearer wranglers before long… Smile

The groom’s party comes out of the Arts Center, while the bride’s party enters from the front yard… this is where Jody gets that first look at Fawn in her dress… after 20 minutes, and the two trains, one plane, and no automobiles, the officiant uses the power vested in her by the State of Virginia to make it official that Fawn and Jody are just going to have to spend the rest of their lives together…

It takes a while for everyone to go inside for the reception… it was one of those rare blue-sky/cool-breeze days that you could put in a Virginia tourism brochure.  It was a general-admission reception, which became a game of non-musical chairs that I kind of lost because I enjoyed the blue skies a bit too long. Smile  Normally, being “the single guy” makes it easy, as someone has an empty seat at their table.  Not this time.  But I wasn’t alone… nope, I gravitated over to the area where the other stragglers were congregating… Kelly and Daniel, a couple I was meeting for what I thought was the first time (Emily and David) – turns out I’d run into Emily in passing in the past, as we have friends in common… and me.  The good part was that I knew the venue (or the wedding party, or someone) was going to have to solve our problem – we were standing where the buffet line was going to go, and it’s not like I’m an easy person to trample.   Plan A was to find some chairs and crash a table that had just 4 seated at it, including Kelly’s friend Lauren (in from CNU for the day) and her “date”, Justin (who’d go on to be the only guy in the bouquet toss…), but when I went looking for chairs, I was told that the only way to get them would be to photobomb the wedding party… Smile which left me waiting on Plan B, which turned out to be the story I plan to tell for a long time.  How many people get to say that the groomsmen cleared a space for their table and set it up in about 30 seconds flat?  Me, the two couples I was hanging with, and another couple who were stranded at the other side of the room.  Of course, there were seven people and six chairs.  If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, so I grabbed a chair (using the grip I’d seen one too many wrestlers use in my ring-announcing days, but there wasn’t anyone close by to swing at), and completed the table.

So let’s see… over there are Matt and Stephanie, who just got married a week ago (and endured some teasing about being upstaged so soon)… there’s Vickie, who owns the theatre where I met Jody and Fawn… scattered around the room are other members of Jody’s West End Comedy troupe… including one of the groomsmen, James, and his very pregnant wife Rachel… Rachel arrived in a cloak that appeared to be borrowed from the Harry Potter wardrobe department… and, since James was “in the wedding”, she apparently went into nesting mode and spent her time busing the tables!  Of course, I had to give her a hard time about it, but there’s no way you can talk Rachel down once she gets an idea… Smile she said that she figured she’d guilt a few people into cleaning up after themselves (and it worked, at least on me!)… and since the wedding party had to clean up the hall anyway, she was saving herself some time later in the evening…

There were tears and laughter, heartfelt toasts and a groom wearing bear-claw slippers (and yes, he did get off a pun about how he could “bearly” wait for today…), and – in the end – the realization that, in the right time, and the right place, with the right people… you get lucky enough to be part of a special moment that’ll last a lifetime.

To Jody and Fawn – CONGRATULATIONS!  Outside my family (of course), I can’t think of two people who more obviously belong together, and who truly (to use a really overworked cliché) “complete each other”, than you two.  Thanks for letting me be part of it.

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), generally nice person (if you ask me).

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