Sunday, October 23, 2016
This was over a week ago now.
You might have heard about this election that's coming up. Well, where I work, we print a lot of the mail you've been throwing into your recycle bin. You know, the stuff that says so-and-so is the world's biggest cootie, or that so-and-so is the most awesome leader you could ever elect to a county commission. It's the postcard version of the ads on TV, and while it's the smallest line item in most campaign budgets (they spend a LOT more on that TV stuff), direct mail is still a tool candidates use to sell themselves. I used to have a lot worse work life balance issues related to my job, my last gig involved months of insane hours every year, this is mere weeks and it's more of an every other year kinda deal.
In fact, Em didn't believe I'd be home on Christmas Day the last year I was married to her mother, I was gone that much. I was, of course, but I'm sure to her ten year old eyes I was a ghost in the autumn, a ghost who only came home to have pointless fights with his soon to be ex-wife.
I really regret selling so much of my time with my kids so cheaply during those years. I'm not going to say I'm glad I got fired from that gig, that sucked. But going a little over a week from wedding to actually getting to blog the wedding reminds me that I do have it better now. This brief flurry of working too much will be over in about another week and I'll go back to having a life.
I got my suit out of the cedar closet. It still fits, which is remarkable since I was still married to the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster when I went to Men's Wearhouse and bought it. For the occasion of my then brother-in-law's wedding. In the fifteen or so years I guess I've had it, prior to walking my daughter down the aisle I had worn it for one wedding, a funeral, one or two job interviews and a couple of court appearances. Seems like something that costs $400 should get more use than that.
Em asked me to serve as wedding photographer, and of course I did it. I'd have been running around with my Nikon anyway, there's no way she could have dissuaded me from shooting this. Of course, they got what they paid for: a proper wedding photographer becomes an extra wedding coordinator, herding various emotional people to get specific shots, insisting on people being on location earlier than they would otherwise be to stage assorted poses and groupings, and keeping the couple from the reception to shoot together if the bride insists on the groom not seeing her prior to the ceremony, etc. I was lucky to get the wedding party minus the bride to line up outside the hall. Also, two SB-800 speed lights, not exactly the arsenal of light required for getting great reception shots. I could have used a half dozen large soft boxes around the room for that.
There's a certain amount of spray-and-pray shooting I tend to do in these circumstances. Here are 90 of the better shots I took out of 452 frames. And I didn't shoot any during the ceremony, I was the Father of the Bride after all.
And when it came time to walk Em down the aisle, I don't know what I expected my emotions to be, but yeah, I was crying. Not out of a sense of loss, I'm not the Dad who infantilizes his children and denies that 'Daddy's little girl' should ever grow up. She should take the leading roll in her own life story. But I changed her first diaper (and that meconium poo, holy smokes that stuff is alarmingly like tar). I think back to the little dance she'd do when I came home when she was still in diapers. The time she broke her leg. The time she burned her hand on the grill and was so brave while they debrided the burn in the ER.
I think about the time I took her to McDonald's under protest (I don't care for the food there but she really wanted to go there), and she stomped her foot and declared, 'Daddy and Emmy!' after we sat down with her Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. The time she caught a ride home from a school event unbeknownst to me and after I looked all over hell's half acre for her and got home to find her waiting there and totally lost my rag. Or the time she asked me to do the Ministry of Silly Walks walk from Monty Python on the way into the store, but then froke out in embarrassment when I did the Chicken Tonight dance in the poultry section.
Or the times we had sleepovers for her birthday, and I made hand tossed pizza. One of those times I was enlisted to be Simon while Em and her friends played American Idol and Barley the Dog Faced Boy kept trying to herd the girls out of the stairwell because they should all be in one room. Or when we had to put Rasta (a cat) down and I started crying and Em gave me a hug and said, 'It's okay, Daddy, you can't help it.'
Or the time when I'd started dating Corinna and we were tucking Em in and she'd been doing a lot of clay modeling, mostly food. The Barbie House had a Barbie on the little Barbie toilet and she'd made little clay turds and put them in the bowl.
Anyway, two decades of what Em would call 'feels' just came over me and it was all I could do to walk her down the aisle and answer the simple question about who gives her to be married. Which, to my view, is a bit of a bullshit question, tradition or not. She's my daughter, and I love her so much it's overwhelming even as I write this, but she's not my property. Patrick asked me for permission last February before he proposed, and it was a sweet gesture and all, and I hope I didn't come off rude when I told him, I got no problem with you, but that is entirely her decision. I think, come to think of it, that's more or less what her mother's Dad told me when I asked him the same thing some 25 years ago.
The ceremony was short. No hymns, no scripture readings, no sermon. The officiant held her script in a comic book (they promised a 'nerdy' wedding), worked in the Princess Bride preamble about the dweem within a dweem, and got straight to the vows. A friend who was videoing it on his phone commented something to the effect of, 'Get all dressed up like that for eight minutes?' I leaned over to my ex-wife and asked, 'Was ours that fast?' She said, no, it only felt like it.
So I tried to get some full wedding party shots after the ceremony but my cat herding skills came up wanting. I never got more than two thirds of the wedding part in the same room at once and ultimately the starring couple didn't seem that motivated to get the formal complete group shot.
After we ate, there was the first dance, then I got to dance with my newly married daughter. Who told me I have two left feet. It's a fair cop. I confessed to her that it might be the first time in my life I've ever danced sober (they had a dry reception because the venue required them to hire a security card if they served and Em reasoned that only being 20 herself there wasn't any point in paying extra to have alcohol around she couldn't be served). Normally I'm pretty self conscious about dancing, so if I'm busting a move, I probably need a ride.
But also, the wedding party, these kids could freaking dance! My new son-in-law can dance, all his groomsmen can dance, the bridesmaids can dance, no wonder Em thinks I have two left feet. She has surrounded herself with people actually have some business on a dance floor.
Per their nerdy wedding ambitions the cake was adorned with logos form various nerdish things.
There were threats of getting people to do toasts but that never materialized kind of like the post wedding photos of the wedding party. I didn't have a lot to say as far as imparting wisdom goes. I always want my kids to avoid making the same mistakes I've made and that's generally a wish made in vain. I hope these two have the tools to resolve the inevitable conflicts that arise in a marriage, because being able to resolve problems is way, way more important than avoiding problems. This is because avoiding conflict is impossible, resolving it isn't. So I guess the best I got in the advice column is: remember, you never win a fight with your spouse.
Which can be hard to remember when you know you're right. Though I guess that's another nugget I can offer: sometimes it really is a question of do you want to be right or do you want to be married? Plus, the more certain you are that you're right and your partner is wrong, the less likely it's really true.
A neighbor was telling me the other day (she's American born, her husband is from Mexico) that in Mexico they have a saying related to being married a long time. This was after she asked me how long Corinna and I had been together and I realized it was six years but then said it didn't feel that long. She said in Mexico they would say, 'It feels like it's only been five minutes...under water.'
When Patrick asked my permission (which I guess is really just more of a putting Dad on notice that big news might be coming than actually asking permission—they were already living together after all), I remember having the knee jerk reaction that they were too young. Then realized right after that they are basically the exact same sage as my and Em's mother were when we got hitched. Granted, we ended in divorce but if you were to draw up a list of legit reasons why we ended up there, our age at the wedding wouldn't be in the top 100.
I mentioned these kids can dance, right?
So anyway, like I say, been working way, way too much just of late. I had my apheresis treatment on Tuesday, meaning that I didn't even get to work until 1:00 in the afternoon that day and I still managed a 56 hour week. Plus, last weekend, I'd been enlisted by Corinna to milling and pressing a bunch of foraged pears, crabapples and autumn olive into a mead project, and that was kinda inflexible because the equipment rental had been set and the fruit had been gathered before we realized what a craptastic weekend it was to commit me to an all day project. A fun project, but that was a freaking workout (blog post to come on that one).