1. stars (July 2, 2004)
Celi & I drive over from the Holiday Inn to the Rao’s to help decorate the tent. There are stars to put up in the tent, the house to tidy up, road signs to put together for those folks driving to the house for the wedding, and Koi to adore. Koi is Joe’s dog, and is loved by everyone. Celi refers to Koi as “he”, which she does with Jacinda’s dog, and I think it’s so cute. Koi is adorable as she follows Seema or Joe around, lies around, and licks herself.
The ceremony is going to take place in front of the house, with Joe and Seema standing on the front steps, so it’s decided that: Joe and Mayor Peg will come out from the house and take their places on the front steps. Jessica (one of Joe’s sisters, and my fellow reader) will open and I will follow them out, standing behind them for the ceremony when we’re not reading. Dr. Rao escorts Dr. Mrs. Rao to her place on the lawn, and waits on the walk. The bridesmaids and groomsmen start, coming from the side of the house, down the driveway, up the walkway, and array themselves around the front door. Seema and her uncle, Dr. Rao’s brother, walks her to the walkway where Dr. Rao takes her arm and takes her up to Joe. Hands her over, then takes his place by Dr. Mrs. Rao. I didn’t print out my readings so I mime my reading and then Jessica reads Corinthians 13:4-13.
At the rehearsal dinner, I have no official place as I had replied so late. I sit where Celi’s dad was supposed to. I introduce myself as Roberto for the duration of the evening. Celi gets several calls from Nate, who is flying in late and not sure if he’ll make the rehearsal dinner in time. While we wait, we eat a truly delicious dinner and check on the kids’ table, which is populated by a gang of boys ranging in ages from six to 17. I refer to this as the “Lord of the Flies” table and wait for them to build a bonfire or start roasting a pig. After dinner, a gang of Joe’s cousins lead us over to the hotel bar, Club Capers. There is a dance floor, and one of the Iaccabucci (sp?) cousins is buying. I talk to Beth, a cousin of Joe’s dad (I think) and Nate and Celi and Manju. It’s crowded and the cousins are on the dancefloor doing the electric slide. Sadly, I do not take pictures of this.
2. mr. & mrs. joe
6:55 am: Arrive at salon to find the owner Sally and her staff bouncing around to an 80’s rock station. I immediately slather a bagel with cream cheese and stuff my face. Seema, Megan, Mary, and Dr. Mrs. Rao arrive in their pajamas. The photographer arrives and starts taking pictures as we get our hair and makeup done up. Me: smoky eyes, frosted nude lips, hair pulled back and curled. When we finally get back to the Raos’ later, I wipe off my lipstick and remove about half of my eye makeup.
10:45 am: Guests are milling about on the lawn, and I spy on them through the Raos’ dining room windows. Mary’s sister Emily sneezes. Andrew and Rozi shade themselves from the bright morning sun.
11:00 am: The string quartet begins. Standing in the house, guests take their seats. Jessica opens the door, and Joe takes the mayor’s arm to walk her into the sun. I stand just behind Joe, next to a potted plant which has an American flag tucked into it. Jessica folds and unfolds the index card onto which she has printed out her reading. Reading in hand, folded so that I know to read the Shakespeare first, then the Neruda as Joe had requested, I don’t know where to hold this piece of paper. I should have pasted it to one of the brightly colored cards in the foyer, stacks of which people would sign later in lieu of a traditional guest book. I hold the paper first in front of my waist, then in my right hands, then clasp my hands behind my back, then clasp my hands in front of my abdomen and turn and watch, with everybody else, as first comes Dr. Mrs. Rao. As soon as I see that Dr. Mrs. Rao is crying, I choke back tears myself. Watch for Seema as she floats down the driveway on her uncle’s arm, then her father’s. She take Joe’s hands and Mayor Peg welcomes us. I’m the first person to read, so I step up and take the mayor’s place. I look at Joe and Seema and I recite (excerpts below):
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
I flip over my paper and read again, this time Neruda:
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving
And I step back and Jessica reads from her card, held close to her face so she doesn’t falter. Mayor Peg steps up and begins the ceremony. I can’t recall if they say “I do” or “I will” but the important thing is that Joe and Seema are married. They join hands and walk down the aisle and back up to the porch for toasts. All the guests and bridesmaids and groomsmen and families move around to the side of the house, where the photographer can take a huge group photograph from the roof. Marty the best man and Mary and Celi the maids of honor make toasts, and we have mimosas and samosas. Brunch is served under the tent — entirely vegetarian, and utterly delicious. I turn around to look at Seema, who is glowing such that she is almost unrecognizable, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her so happy.
2:00 pm: After brunch, Andrew and Rozi and I go back to the hotel so we can change. We go for a drive, ending up at the lakefront. We watch several bridal parties get their pictures taken near the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and critique their outfits. Groomsmen in pistachio green jackets. Bridesmaids in gunmetal blue gowns. A bride is photographed lying the grass, with her groom’s face posed a few inches from her own. Rozi told me about some law school friends who seemed perfectly normal until she saw one of their wedding pictures: the bride dips her foot into a reflection pool, the groom holds her by the arm to prevent her from falling in. What is it supposed to mean? I consider this as we browse the aisle of the hall of fame gift shop, and come up with nothing.
3. the delicious eggplant cheese thingy and salmon
You go through the front door, where Jessica takes a Polaroid of you that you include with a note that you write to the happy couple. From there, you can go to the left for the crudites, or straight to the kitchen for the antipasti. The second course comes out a few minutes later, salmon or this eggplant pasta thingy that I consume almost as quickly as it is brought to the buffet table. On the porch, beer and wine is served, along with a sherbet punch which Celi tells me is tradition in Ohio. The lights are on in the tent, and people eat and chat and gamely try to dance to the way too hip music the DJ is spinning. Celi’s mom brings her sister, who lives a few towns over in Lorraine. I admire Blanca’s fringed shawl and curse myself for wearing heels, which bore holes in the Raos’ backyard. I smoke the occasional cigarette, drink a lot of punch, and talk to family — cousins, aunts, tipsy uncles, Dipthi (Seema’s hilarious friend from Berkeley who goes to U of I med school — Seems, give Dipthi my number so we can hang out), Joe’s adorable cousin Jamie who lives three blocks from my old apartment in Lakeview, Celi’s mum and aunt, the Raos. Nate takes pictures of everything and everyone: Mary flipping him off, cousins dancing on the slanted dance floor, Jacinda’s Joe trying to dip Andrew. I am laughing so hard that I don’t have the energy to get all verklempt over Seema and Joe. When we finally have to go, Seema brings out Koi so Andrew, Rozi, Jacinda’s Joe, and Jacinda can meet her. Seema kisses us goodnight, we kiss each other goodnight, we kiss the dog goodnight, take our party favors (these gorgeous painted wooden? papier mache? birds), and drive back to the hotel.
The Stone Roses – Your star will shine; Garnett Mimms – I’ll Take Good Care of You; Simple Gifts; Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring; Canon in D; Spring (from The Four Seasons)