Teri Orr: What love looks like…
October 6, 2018
My fall getaway changed course, I booked my tickets to attend a wedding in Palm Springs. I landed in San Francisco and instead of driving down the coast as planned I ended up in Berkeley, on a houseboat with friends. We picked up a third friend and went right to dinner. The four of us started dissecting Brett Kavanaugh — weeks before he appeared before the Senate to declare he liked beer. We are of an age — we remember him involved in the Clinton White House investigation of the death of Vincent Foster. In a neighborhood Italian restaurant, with no dumb music to drown out conversation, the magazine mogul and two men who teach happiness globally and I were eating pasta, picking up conversations where we had left off almost a year ago.
Midday morning Sunday we reassembled in a dim sum restaurant so authentic we were the only non-Asians. The conversation was just as intense as the night before but I was slightly distracted by the clear view of the Golden Gate and Bay bridges. Later, Greg and I walked the harbor where the boat lived. We saw heron, osprey, plenty of gulls, and harbor seals. We talked of our children and our more than "midlife" reflections. (Years ago when I turned 50 a friend said, "Don't let anyone fool you into thinking 50 is middle age unless you think you are living to be 100.")
By dinner time we were in the highest hills in Berkeley — where Rick and Greg introduced me to one of their oldest friends, who had catered the Bread and Roses tour for Joan Baez. She cooked us a fabulous meal and we all kept talking politics as we Boomers do.
Next day we flew to Palm Springs and stayed the night in their place where the mountain meets most mornings with a purple shadow. Then they dropped me off in Los Angeles to check out a friend's new hotel. Which was followed by a night in a Parkite's place on the ocean. Then I picked up a rental car and drove back to Palm Springs for the reason for the trip … the wedding.
Everything was thoughtful, intentional — a reflection of the young couple who live in Southern California but got engaged in Park City, where the bride's family has had a home for decades. I knew some of the guests but mostly the small gathering was family. We stayed in bungalows in a classic place where the trees were heavy with limes. At the rehearsal dinner we had lots of giggles learning about who had traveled from the East Coast (most of the groom's people) and how we all knew the couple. After dinner there were speakeasies in bungalows you discovered on your own. It was playful. Just like Kelsey and Jeremy — the bride and groom.
The next afternoon, we gathered in the shadow of the mountain. The couple stood in the tiny gazebo where not an hour before there had been a lively ping-pong game. The bride's sister had assembled the other attendees — in another time she would have been called the Maid of Honor. This modern woman decided the title was dated. They agreed the Best Man should have a Best Lady. At the party the night before, Madison and I had changed her title again, to Best Woman — because.
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The officiant led us through a special ceremony. In all my years of having weddings and attending them this was new — the warming of the rings. He explained before the couple put on those rings for life they wanted those gathered to touch them and place their intentions for the couple on that metal. The rings passed through the crowd on a tiny dish — tied together. And when the dish moved from person to person you saw us all consider our dreams for them and hold them for a moment to remember dreams of our own.
Their vows included a space where they recognized how lucky they were to marry the person they loved. How it hadn't always been so in this county. They spoke of their friends in the LGBT community and people of color who only recently — in the span of our history — could freely marry who they loved. Then some words on partnerships from the groom's grandmother and the bride's grandfather. A tossing of petals when the couple threw up their hands in a victory salute as they walked down the tiny aisle. It was all — simply spectacular.
The dinner on a great lawn included musical introductions of all the bridesmaids and groomsmen from the stage. Then the music changed and so had the bride, who has danced most of her young life (she now works in serious issues of women's reproductive rights but she still kicks). She had on a silverly fringed dress. Kelsey danced with Jeremy and her high kicks, deep plunges and dizzying spins were unlike any dated first dance. The toasts by the Best Man and Best Woman were carefully chosen. Madison, the aforementioned Best Woman, had asked each of the pair their favorite book. While Jeremy's A Hundred Years of Solitude didn't yield any "just right "quote- her sister's, The History of Love -did.
"Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering." That's when I cried.
Love, real love, is forged in messy stuff. Of careers and families and mental illness and addictions, of loss and joy and creating a family together that combines messy tribes. These two, who love so passionately were surrounded by folks selected to bear witness -to hold their love in our hearts. Which I do now. I look forward to a time when we can sneak again to the top of the water tower here and watch a sunset over Old Town. I need to remember how precious it is to have learned to love by spending Sundays in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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