Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gratitude and Lunch

Since I couldn’t have twenty bridesmaids, I decided to have a bridal luncheon honoring the women who make my life wonderful, full and hysterical. They are the women I call most often. The ones who saw me through way too many bad relationships, job changes, times of poverty and deep debt, the loss of my stepfather, graduations and of course, the development of my relationship with my husband. To me, this luncheon was incredibly important. The luncheon, just as I envisioned it, was sort of magical.

My mom and I decided to have the luncheon at her mountain house – the one she lived in with my stepfather that she now rents out as a vacation rental. This is the house that I thought of when I started thinking of North Carolina as home instead of Virginia. The house itself is nothing spectacular. It’s an A-frame house two miles up a dirt road. But once there, it is peaceful with a breath-taking view - on a clear day, it's a seventy-miles view. It was the best place to escape to after finals in college. In the winter, I would snuggle down into bed and sleep all day. Since it is about thirty minutes from town, the most there is to do is relax, take walks and relax some more. I couldn’t imagine all my friends flying to North Carolina without seeing this part of my life.

I felt like utter and complete crap the Friday before the wedding. I was fighting a cold and popping pills like a strung-out junkie. When I pulled up to the house with my friend Jen, people were already there. My sister-in-laws (I have 3 now!), aunt and mom had set everything up beautifully. My best girlfriends were mingling in the living room and on the deck taking in the view. My 90-year old grandmother chatted with them. All of these amazing women were in one place. And all celebrating me and our friendships.

Before we ate, my mom wanted to do a blessing. We gathered in a circle on the deck, and I took a few moments to introduce everyone and to say how I knew each person. All of my friends had heard of each other so it was great for them to put faces with names. Jen was my best friend at the University of Colorado. Cheryl was my oldest friend - 34 years of friendship! Krista and I met in the dorms freshman year. I met Heidi in Hollywood. Tracy is my local friend - a true North Carolina native who procured the moonshine for the wedding. Tricia, one of my always happy friends, is the one, ironically, I've shared the most grief with. When I met Maggie, we didn't like each other because we were in the shadows of our ex-boyfriends and blind to how cool each other are. Rebecca was my "husband" when I lived in LA right after college. She picked up the bills most of the time and I cooked and cleaned. Kristin is my calm, cool friend who I love to talk cooking with. And my cousins who were like sisters to me growing up. I didn't mention everyone, and if any of them read this, they know just by being there how important they are to me.

For 35 years I was mostly single, and these women made life so much more fun. They supported me when I was going through changes, but most of all, they kept me laughing. After lunch, I handed each woman a card I’d written for them thanking them for being in my life. Then, in a nice quirky turn, my aunt suggested everyone say why they liked me.

I sat like a queen at the front of the living room, sipping hot ginger tea on a 95 degree day in an effort to be healthy for the wedding, and listened as friend after cousin after friend told stories about me and said how much they loved me. It was amazing. My aunt said, “Only on your wedding and your funeral do all your friends come together. How lucky you are to be alive now to hear all the good things they are saying!”

Amen, Aunt Karen. I am incredibly lucky and blessed.

(And thanks to ginger tea, sudafed, nyquil and antibiotics plus a little wedding magic, I felt great on our wedding day!)

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