July 20th, 2019
“Suffocated by mirrors, stained by dreams
Her honey belly pulls the seams
Curves are stiff upon the hinge
Pale zeros tinge the tiger skin
Moist as grass, ripe and heavy as the night
The sponge is full, well out of sight
All around the conversations
Icing on the warm flesh cake
Light creeps through her secret tunnels
Sucked into the open spaces
Burning out in sudden flashes
Draining blood from well-fed faces
Desires form in subtle whispers
Flex the muscles in denial
Up and down its pristine cage
So the music, so the trial
Vows of sacrifice, headless chickens
Dance in circles, they the blessed
Man and wife, undressed by all
Their grafted trunks in heat possessed
Even as the soft skins tingle
They mingle with the homeless mother
Who loves the day but lives another
That once was hers
The worried father, long lost lover
Brushes ashes with his broom
Rehearses jokes to fly and hover
Bursting over the bride and groom
And the talk goes on
Memories crash on tireless waves
The lifeguards whom the winter saves
Silence falls the guillotine
All the doors are shut
Nervous hands grip tight the knife
In the darkness, till the cake is cut
Passed around, in little pieces
The body and the flesh
The family and the fishing-net
And another in the mesh
The body and the flesh”
Peter Gabriel from “The Family and the Fishing Net”
The best part of the wedding was the opportunity to hold Weston in my arms. He is seven months old today. His mama dressed him up in a little outfit for the ceremony. He had on a shirt, a bow tie, and some tight, black pants that just fit over his diaper. Weston looked at the world with wonder, trying to understand what was happening all around him.
The adults did exactly the same thing.
As far as weddings go, things were very simple for Gabi and Hans yesterday. Most weddings, at least in the U.S., are elaborate affairs, planned with the precision and thoroughness usually reserved for a space shuttle launch. In most cases, I think that the preparations for the event overwhelm the wedding itself. The actually marriage is actually anticlimactic, almost a letdown.
Hans is not the best at long term planning. Karin and I found out the date of the wedding three weeks ago. This is not necessarily Hans’ fault. He had to get the marriage license (which only lasts for 90 days), and then he and Gabi had to set up the date with the justice of the peace that they wanted to officiate. A wedding has a lot of moving parts, regardless of how uncomplicated the party involved would like it to be. A wedding, by its very nature, is chaotic. It is never just about two people. It is a maelstrom that sucks in various other persons, and it sucks in the histories of all those persons.
Often the two people planning to wed dream of celebrating the perfect day, a day that will be start a perfect life together. They look forward to some ideal joy in an ideal future. Those folks are doomed to disappointment. We were blessed by the fact that Gabi and Hans already know the reality of a relationship. They had been there, done that. The marriage of Gabi and Hans was not about a dream. It was a declaration to the world that they would continue to persevere in their relationship, regardless of the troubles involved. Hans and Gabi and Weston are in it for the long haul.
I am old. I can feel that every day. My memories shift and flow.
Hans and Gabi’s wedding was never just about Hans and Gabi. It couldn’t be. During the small reception at Brenda’s house, we easily and automatically spoke of weddings from years ago. Karin and I will be married for 35 years on August 11th. Karin had pictures on her phone from our wedding in Germany all those years ago. We were young then. Now we’re not. We are now in the place of Max and Erika, Karin’s parents. We look back at our past with a bit of sadness, but we look forward to their future. Weston is part of their future, so we cling to him.
I slept while Gabi’s family came to visit, prior to the wedding.
It was probably the best thing that I could do.
The people who came to Gabi’s house were all women. Karin connected with them. It is unlikely that I would have been able to do so. Honestly, men are superfluously at a wedding. We just are.
A wedding in July. It was hot. Insanely hot. Okay, maybe natives of Texas might be okay with the environment, but I did not meet any locals who enjoyed the weather. It was brutal.
There was confusion when we arrived at the justice of the peace. There were people that did not show up for the ceremony because they got lost or whatever. Confusion at a wedding is just a taste of the afterlife. Once the couple takes their vows, it just gets crazier.
The actual wedding lasted maybe five minutes. It was blip on the screen, although it was a necessary blip. It needed to happen. Hans was there in his shiny blue shirt, silver vest, and old jeans. Gabi was there in her white dress. They promised things to each other. They meant them.
The justice of the peace did a good job. He wore his long black robes over his running shoes. I don’t remember all that he said. I do remember that he finished by saying,
“By the power invested in me by the GREAT STATE OF TEXAS, I now pronounce you husband and wife!”
Karin and I were the only people there from Hans’ side of the family. That’s just how it goes sometimes. When Karin and I got married all those years ago, nobody from my family could be there and/or wanted to be there. Maybe it was better so. If my parents had come to Germany for the wedding, I expect that my father would have just bitched about things, because that is what he usually did. In an odd way it was liberating to be married without my family.
The reception was at Brenda’s house. Brenda and Jim are old friends of Hans from back when Hans worked in the oil fields. Jim couldn’t be there, although Hans really wanted him to be. Jim had to go back to work in Midland, which is a desolate oil town in west Texas. However, Brenda invited everybody into their home for a small party.
William came with his wife, Ginger, from Iola to the reception. This was a good thing, since William brought most of the food. He spent hours and hours cooking a brisket. The brisket rocked. We ate the meat, along with potato salad and a herring salad that I had made. It was a quiet party. People sat around and talked. The happy couple cut the cake they got from Sam’s Club, and we all shared it with them. My piece made my pancreas hurt.
The party ended early. Karin and I went home with Gabi, Hans, and Weston. We relaxed and watched a movie about Freddie Mercury, “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
I held Weston for a while. He rested his head on my shoulder.
That was the best part of the wedding.