VOL 014: a wedding reunion and amaretti

    May of 1985 was pretty glorious. I’d cemented that teenager identity I longed for. Nearly the close of my sophomore year, I had good friends. Primarily Chris. Her parents were going through their own divorce – still not so common in that little corner of Florida – so I had credibility. Too young to drive, we were still pretty innocent. Some of our peers, however, could drive. As a result, my social life ascended and my 4.0 GPA fell. The mall job at Lucy Ho’s, a fast-food place at Gulf View Square Mall, didn’t help, though it did introduce me to kimchi. I’m surprised, however, that I was allowed to work at 15.

MY SOCIAL LIFE ASCENDED

AND MY 4.0 GPA FELL

    All the trappings were there. My Ridgewood Senior High School life had some familiarity, Florida style, to what I’d seen as the teen ideal: Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Who knew Sean Penn would go on to steal our socially conscious hearts? 

 

    Poor Dora. We’d intended to see Gandhi that 1982 evening back in Springfield. But when I saw all those cool teens lined up for Fast Times, I knew the incalculable value such a screening would offer. On Monday, I could return to that surreal junior high cinderblock hell as quite likely the only kid in school with Fast Times tales. Whose parents would take them? This kid’s, that’s whose. Maybe Dora could sense my desperation. For whatever reason, she acquiesced and on Monday I was hot shit in those Formica-floored hallways. Then I bought the soundtrack album, which I could bring to school and loan to cool kids. Shallow and calculating? Yes, but my brand rose. 

 

    Fast forward to May 1985, and here was this new bright spot amid my fast times at Ridgewood High. Ed, Dora, and I were flying to San Diego for Bob and Megan’s wedding. Through my steady journey to adulthood, Ed and I always found friction, détente at best. He saw me as lazy, irresponsible, and disobedient. I saw him as racist, cheap, and cranky. What we had in common, however, was that Dora loved us and we loved her. 

ED AND I

ALWAYS FOUND FRICTION,

DÉTENTE AT BEST

    All From the time we arrived at Tampa International, though, everything between the three of us was smiles. The weather was beautiful, the wedding was a happy occasion, and I finally got a spin on the TIA people mover! Being the only time we ever flew together, I realized that airplane seating actually fostered bonhomie within our family dynamic. I could sit at the window and lose myself – and the family – with the view. Ed, on the aisle, could check out the flight attendants and fiddle with boarding-pass logistics. Dora, in the middle, had each of us by her side. We could be so very close, and Ed and I didn’t even have to look at each other. Flying on Continental, I don’t know that we even had to change planes in their Houston hub. I don’t recall any change, actually. I just remember Ed smiling more than usual, Dora content, and my own stress-free disposition. The sweet spot was Lazzaroni’s amaretti cookies – a signature Continental flourish at the time – with their fancy pastel-paper wrappers, entirely new to us and a pleasant treat in coach.

    Again, we stayed with Aunt Betsy and Uncle Bob. They entertained us with a trip to a winery. I even ended up with a bottle of red, which I kept till graduation. 

 

    San Diego offered characteristically beautiful weather for the wedding day. Sun, a few clouds, negligible humidity. But perfect weather doesn’t guarantee a perfect day. 

    My heart sort of went out to my brother-in-law-to-be’s mom, Priscilla. We were in the same family van to the wedding, held in this big Catholic church overlooking Mission Bay, Church of St. Mary Magdalene. Priscilla mentioned to our van-mate, the maid of honor, Robin (of Vol 12 Tijuana-day-trip fame), Megan’s college pal and roommate, that Megan must be excited about changing her name. 

 

    “Oh, she’s not going to change it.” 

 

    The expression on Priscilla’s face suddenly drained of the day’s excitement and morphed into a sort of confused pout. 

 

    “I was thrilled to take my husband’s name…,” Priscilla muttered, staring at the floor of the minivan. 

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l to r, Robin the maid of honor, Megan the bride, Bob the groom, and a friendly best man whose name I can't recall! Notably, Megan made her own wedding dress, following a vintage pattern she uncovered. Photo by...? 

    That Megan and Bob were getting married in a Catholic church puzzled me at the time. I didn’t know that either of them was particularly religious. I did, however, know that they were both left of center. They seemed to appreciate the solidness of the institution, particularly that social justice/quasi-communist component. That appreciation for tradition also showed in Megan’s wedding dress. It was an early 20th century pattern she found and made herself. The reception was less traditional, a backyard Mexican fiesta that went on for hours. The groom got a bit drunk, which was scary in that he was so tall, always steps from bumping his head somewhere. With each sway, all the loved ones were on high alert. Patrick danced a little – a little being possibly for the best. With our lives taking us ever farther from each other, it was a needed reunion for Patrick, Megan and me. We’d last all been together for a post-divorce Thanksgiving in Springfield. We didn’t see much of each other. Dora took lots of pictures.

SOON, VOL 015: BACK TO BELGIUM FOR MY SMOKY 16TH