Thinking the Day Before

Let’s face it: I’m avoiding work. I’m in the midst of a very busy time, but also a time when you want to throw responsibility to the wind and hang out with your friends. Tim gets married tomorrow, and the festivities have already begun. There’s an all afternoon picnic/groom’s dinner today and then the rehearsal. Right now it’s 10:20 on a Saturday morning, and despite my hopes to get up and do some work, I’m sitting on the computer typing in my pajamas.

I’ve learned that the biggest downside to my office set up is the lack of a door. Normally this isn’t a problem, since Speak doesn’t make much noise. But friends have been coming into town for the wedding and staying at our place, which means it’s not such a quiet workspace anymore. And who wants to work when you’ve got friends downstairs you haven’t seen in a year?

We actually have three guests staying in our house right now, and if you’ve ever seen our house, you realize how impressive that is. Tim, of course, has been staying here since January. But tonight is probably his last night (I can’t imagine why he’d want to stay here after the wedding). My old roommate and east coast buddy Andy is also staying here. He’s crashing on the floor in Tim’s room. And yesterday one of Tim’s friends from Yale, Dawn, arrived and we made room on the couch.

Amazingly five people and one bathroom wasn’t a big deal this morning. Everyone had a staggered schedule so there wasn’t much fighting for the bathroom. Of course I was the last one up and now I’m home alone and still in my pajamas. Theoretically I have a quiet hour or two to get some work done, but I can’t seem to get to it. The introspective side of my brain needs to process everything that’s going on.

It’s fun having Andy around again. As we left the airport he remarked how easy it is to slip back into the way things were, as if he’d never left. I quickly felt that over the next day or so as we went about our business, finding food, playing with the dog, telling stories, doing whatever we do. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing that we so easily feel like Andy never left — I see the up side of a close friendship that can survive time and distance. I also see a down side of a friendship that doesn’t necessarily see the change that happens in that time and distance. You can’t go home again, and at some point you can’t go back to college either.

But however that goes down, it’s fun hanging out with Andy again. I saw the beginnings of his upcoming web site, which means the possibility of Andy joining our little circle of blogging freaks.

Last night we gathered some of the old crew again: Andy, Lance, Neals, Abby, myself, as well as some new faces, Lance’s girlfriend Tara and Tim’s friend Dawn. For dinner we joined up with several of Tara’s friends at an Ethiopian place (sans Neals, who was still driving home from Duluth). It was an odd mix of people, part of an old Bethel clan on one end and several of Tara’s friends on the other. Andy had just met Tara, Dawn had just met all of us, and none of us knew Tara’s friends. We pretty much kept at our ends of the tables, not even bothering with introductions. I think we all realized there were too many circles coming together, and they weren’t likely to cross again. Probably a rude and lazy reaction to the social situation, but that’s what happened. It must have been awkward for Tara, the only one who could really bridge the gap between the two circles.

Despite my initial protests, I survived the Ethiopian food. We basically shared a sampler platter of a dozen different dishes. If you haven’t had Ethiopian food before, you basically take a tasteless pancake-type sponge flat bread and use it to scoop morsels of mushy stuff. Nothing struck me as gross, but I didn’t have any favorites either. I tried everything and was more or less eating for sustanence, not flavor.

After the food we abandoned circles and headed back to Tara’s place, where Neals joined us in a game of Scattergories. Good times.

And as I type, Jeremy calls, another college roommate who emmigrated to the west coast. Far-flung freaks still flock together.

It’s still quiet around here, eerily so. Tim and Dawn left to hang out with some east coast friends. Andy went out to breakfast with his brother and sister (amazing that 3 out of 4 siblings of an east coast family are all in the same midwestern state the same weekend). Abby and Speak went to dog class.

I think that’s what really makes it quiet. Speak isn’t here. You don’t realize the companionship a pet brings until they’re gone. Despite his less than joyful habits, I like Speak. I like having a dog, a lot more than I thought I would. Though I don’t enjoy Speak-proofing my yard. He escaped the other day, prompting a trip to Home Depot and some ghetto-izing of our yard. The flopping, drooping, crappy gate across our driveway is now even crappier — if that’s even possible.

I’m looking forward to hanging out today and tomorrow, ignoring responsibility and celebrating with friends. Weddings are these odd little events where everyone launches into a tizzy, and really we’re just supporting our friends. We’re affirming and celebrating their decision to get married, to start a life together, to commit to each other. We bring more stress and pomp and circumstance and expectations than we need to. It’s usually over before you know it.

The sad thing about weddings is the bride and groom invite all these people to share their day with, and they usually have minimal time to spend with those people. Some of my extended family traveled to Green Bay for my wedding, and I hardly had time to talk with them. They endured sickness and turbulance for 15 minutes with me and watched the rest from afar. Several friends from Michigan ventured out (I asked them to be in the wedding, a great way to ensure they make it), and I managed a late night table-talk discussion. I seem to remember playing cards, but I don’t remember. And of course my college friends made it, but I’d see them again shortly. I probably spent the most time with them, buoying me up in the crazy times. My best memory is killing the few hours before we had to be at the church by bumming around Green Bay. We checked out the Packers Hall of Fame gift shop (too cheap to go in) and took pictures outside. Then we went to the mall’s food court for a bite to eat before heading to the church. Simple and unplanned, but a lot of fun. Of course Abby was at the church all day dealing with hair and make up and mothers, so maybe I shouldn’t revel too much in my relaxing afternoon.

But it’s really about those two people, saying we do, and everyone being there with them to cheer them on, whether or not those two people have any time or sanity left to say hello. That’s really the point: this day is about them, and they’re going to spend that first day together. You may be a guest, but that term doesn’t do your role justice. You’re more like the crowd of witnesses and less like the pampered guest of honor.

I don’t know what I’m saying, but I’ve probably avoided enough work.

2 thoughts on “Thinking the Day Before”

  1. Dang it. I can’t tell you how much Steph and I wish I could be there today. We went back and forth so many times on whether we could or should go, and it basically came down to an empty post-IRS wallet and some really unfortunate timing. (I don’t know why I’m posting this on your blog, I should be telling Tim!)

    Weddings are such interesting occurrences when close friends are involved. The ones I’ve been to have felt so strange and semi-magical. It feels odd that a life can change so seemingly-drastically in an afternoon, and that the day can be remembered for such a long time.

    I’ll be there in spirit! Have some extra punch for me. :-)

  2. *sniff* Darn grad school. Traffic was terrible leaving the Cities (694 WAS CLOSED from a huge accident), and then umpteen morons were camping in both lanes going the speed limit (of all things), keeping me from getting back as fast as I wanted to.

    The whole way, I was thinking, I’d much rather be hanging out with everyone else than stressing in a car ride home about a paper due tomorrow. Have fun.

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