By about this time fourteen years ago today, I had already put in a few dark-to-dawn miles on the roads of a sketchy Manchester neighborhood, vacated a hotel room near the Manchester/Bedford border, and scrubbed the Escape’s exterior and interior at a do-it-yourself car wash to pass the time and adrenaline. By now, Bedford’s Panera was finally open to receive me on my third pass, and I was settling into a dark-roast refill, chewing on an everything-with-veggie-cream-cheese and a day and life ahead. I’d already confirmed with the manager the order of bagels and pastries that was a component of tomorrow’s brunch at the house.
I continued the night’s journaling with free-flowing expository including: What’s it like to wear a ring every day? Do you take it off when you make meatballs?; Man, she’s beautiful.; Will we be able to see Albania from Corfu?; “She’s sure smart, sensitive and creative to juxtapose rehearsal dinner at Fratello’s in the Millyard at the heart of the city, with a reception at a rustic inn adjoining working farms. ‘We can share and show our Texas and New Yorker people the environment we’ve chosen,’ she’d ruminated six months earlier.
Thoughts wandering and wondering, the excitement of love and marriage, (even though I’d suffered through a self-imposed reread of Bonhoeffer’s sobering letter On Love and Marriage hours earlier), as well as great anxiety, not over the wedding itself, but the fact that neither of us was comfortable being center-stage. Surreal chronos(?) kairos(?) as I became aware that Panera was in full-swing, and I could actually barge in on people at the hotel or the inn, who should now be awake. Time to enjoy catching up and killing time.
Finally, I joined the Saturday morning traffic, the southern reaches of Bedford to the northernmost tip of Manchester seemed to take forever. I was, as I remember it, a LITTLE earlier arriving at our home than the agreed upon turning-over-to-the-tux-team-time. Walked around the house to the rear mudroom entrance, I couldn’t even begin to ascend the three steps to reach for the doorknob before I was (greeted) (stared down) by bouncers Sarah (Now) Deterling and Molly Zolas. Catching wafts of aromatic casserole ingredients for the aforementioned brunch, the smiles and happy-day chit chat ended with being shooed away with quick, repetitive wrist-waves-of-backhand dismissiveness like a bridege-and-tunnel-crowd LUMPA bypassing the desperate masses waiting in futility behind the velvet rope-line of the hottest NYC club-du-jour on a Friday night, stupid plans of dropping names and a sawbuck bribe attempt turned to humiliating failure, defeatedly moving on to a yet-unknown location. No way was I crossing that threshold with my bride-to-be on the premises. Seriously, Misty’s support team was amazing. As was mine. Which went something like this:
A while later, trying to chillax’ with best man John D’Amico, in the cozy comforts of Chris Emerson’s study/office/parlor at First Congregational Church, UCC, Manchester. Been there awhile. Guys checking in and out, almost as frequently as me checking the time on my fantabulous new watch, an elegantly gift-wrapped shocker, delivered by one of the ladies-in-matching-dresses team. Yep. Been there awhile. Twiddling thumbs with my best man. Refusing alcohol. Plenty of time. Ten minutes before the starting gun:
“Harold, you’re not gonna believe this.” Shaking head. Pause. “ I forgot the rings.” He laughs lightly.
Having lived with his exceptionally strong Lawn Guy-land humor for a lifetime, I laugh back harder.
“No really. I forgot the rings.”
“Stop. Enough. I get it.”
“Ok. Whatever.” He heh-hehs again. “It may get a little awkward when I’m supposeta hand’em to ya in the ceremony. But, whatever.” He pulls pocket cloth fully outward, slacks and jacket, hanging sloppily and proving the now undeniable –
I’d like to say I was cool and calm and kind and able to kid. Like he was. But, it went more like this. In Chris Emerson’s graceful and tasteful office, the place of pastoral care and love, symbols of Christian Miracle everywhere. Like this:
“Shit! Are you f-in’ kiddin’ me! Unbelievable!” And more.
John, still composed. “What car should I take?’ (We’d limo-ed over.) “I’ll go get them.”
“I’ll go. I can get there quicker. Where are they?”
“At your house. Right where you left them when you kept telling me not to forget them.”
Anyway, a snapshot of the final hours before “ME” would be changed to “WE” infinitely and in ways unforeseen and unmatchable, beyond my wildest imagination. Maybe that Bonhoeffer guy was pretty, pretty, wise. As wise as Larry David, even. “Pre…tty, pre…tty, pre…tty good.”