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Trio of Weddings

June 29th, 2012 5 comments

Matrimony marked the month of June.

Two weddings were among the summer’s regularly scheduled, and one extra found its way in to our regiment.  When Taaj (fiance of the proprietor of our AirBNB lodgings) dropped by to welcome us with a bottle of wine I quickly realized I had met a brother from another mother (which is of course colloquial ‘hood for “kindred spirit” or “insta-best friend”).

Maybe it was his above-average lobbying for us to not skip India in the coming year, maybe it was his blessing/prediction that we’ll have an amazing network of folks by halfway through our journey1, or maybe it was his worldliness in general, owning to a lifetime of travel that gives me something to look both up to and forward to.

Whatever it was, I knew that this was someone with whom I should make time for a man date.  Whether I came to this conclusion before or after he suggested we crash his flash-mob wedding at Red Rocks that coming weekend, I do not recall.  But two days later, after 5 hours over beers, gyros, and hanging in his backyard I figured it quite appropriate to add his and Velina’s nuptials to our weekend agenda.

But first up was elegant Evergreen: the wedding of my sister-in-law at the Lake House on the lake there, nestled up in the gorgeous mountains just west of Denver.  I loved this wedding for the myriad roles I got to play in it.  The first role was that of webmaster, by virtue of putting together their wedding website months earlier.  Second, as husband of the Matron of Honor2 I was assured a spot near the bride and groom at the head table.  Third, I got to get my theatrical groove on during the ceremony in a dramatic reading of E. E. Cummings poem “I Carry Your Heart”.  (The night before saw me clicking around on Tracy’s iPhone to take in various readings and interpretations of this poem, that I might transcend the–for me–bewildering punctuation and sentence structure in order to really convey it to the congregation.)  Forth, I got an exception to hang around in the suite where the bride et al were getting hair and makeup done (otherwise a very no-boys-allowed situation, as is oft the case).  “Jester to the bride” is the most fitting title I can put this this role: in Jen’s words I was a welcome presence for making her laugh, making the mood light, serving sandwiches, and generally keeping wedding day stress well at bay.  Fifth was in-house dance machine, responsible for keeping the dance floor as populated as I could muster (which was less than I would’ve liked: being again at altitude after a month away took its toll on my endurance).

As if seeing my sister-in-law throughout such a weather-and-otherwise ideal wedding (and picking up a kickin’ brother-in-law in the process) wasn’t win enough for the day, I got to witness some serious and unbeknownst theatrical stylings in Tracy.  Her delivery of a really well-written and heartfelt toast during the reception was touching indeed, and revealed performance chops in my wife that I didn’t know existed3.

The next day we drove down from the mountains and in to Red Rocks for wedding number 2.  We weren’t about to hurry any familial happenings in Evergreen for this wedding crashing, but fate had aligned pretty well to fit it in at no one’s expense.  With deepest respects to Taaj and Velina, I daresay this gathering fell well short of the sort of military precision in timing that makes a real flash mob event.  It was only by the grace of dress code (i.e. anyone in formal wear then and there) that others recognized us outliers and helped us find our way to the spur-of-the-moment changed location.

After an hour of milling about both bride and groom were converged on the scene, and amid breathtaking scenery and super-fair weather a nice little ceremony commenced.  Most touching and unique to me was the inclusion of Taaj’s 7 and 10-year-old from his first marriage: the bride had vows to them for the role she was taking in their lives, and they in turn got to say “I do” in regards to welcoming her to the family.  So cool.

After a lovely week of house sitting for the bride and groom (of wedding  number 1), Tracy and I flew off to Boston for wedding number 3.  We touched down and got ourselves to the ferry that would whisk us over to Province Town, Cape Cod.  After 90 minutes of choppy seas (complete with a surprise visit to the head by me at about 70 minutes in–I used to love going on rides at places like Six Flags, but seem to have lost some of that tolerance for motion) we were greeted by two of my favorite people: the groom and his best man/sister, my business partners from the Playground days.

They whisked us off the epic estate at which the wedding would be held and close guests would stay for the week leading up to it.  We arrived on Monday which was already one day in to the revelry.  By then preparations were well underway, with terrariums being made up for table decorations and copious limes being juiced to make up batches of the event’s signature cocktail 4.

Tuesday was Tracy’s birthday.  It was also the day of her first ever root canal.  Tracy awoke 2 nights prior with searing pain telling her that a lingering issue of tooth sensitivity had come to a head, but it then being a Sunday and with travel on Monday, an immediate visit to the dentist was not an option.  So a Tuesday birthday root canal it was.  With the gracious loaner car from the groom’s dad (these were hot commodities at the estate, mostly reserved for schlepping people like ourselves from the ferry and other assorted logistical errands), we made a 4-hour field trip to the dentist.  It might sound tragic but it wasn’t.  Tracy was a sport and there were even some upsides to the whole thing: you should have seen the way her face lit up that night after swishing cold water around in her mouth post-brushing, pain free for the first time in months.

The week was a mixed bag for Tracy and I: the house atmosphere was akin to one long, extended frat party5.  That was fortunately balanced by the fact that attendees were an exceptionally fantastic bunch: seriously great people who collectively added love fest to the atmosphere.  My only real regret is how many of the cool kids smoked.  Easy to handle in smaller quantities, but when clustered I just couldn’t hang.

Much like the tasteful gender-bending done when Tom elected to have his sister represent as his best man,  Tana had a fellow named Adam represent as one of her bridesmaids.  My being a groomsman plus wedding party arranged by height ascending outward equals Adam and I were opposite one another.  Which means I got to walk Adam down the aisle, a degree of hetero-flexibility with which I am completely comfortable.  Made me appreciate the progressively waning homophobia of our generation, unlike in my father’s day I don’t think we scored any reproachful looks from an uptight audience.  And Dad, if you’re up there in heaven reading this, uh, sorry, I guess: no need to fret over my walking a man down the aisle at a wedding, just ask my wife.

By the time our days in the party house drew to an end our party-exhausted selves were ready to move on.  Still it took about 40 minutes to say all of the heartfelt goodbyes, a true testament to the quality of the crowd.  A much nicer ferry ride on a much calmer sea found us back in Boston, for a bonus day and a half of exploring a rather good lookin’ town.

Back here in Denver I’ve been all too keen to getting back into some work doin’.  After playing the tourist and party goer for 9 days I was just famished for a little of the more heady pursuit that is crafting code.

Next up is our week-long assignment to be counselors at a camp for kids with serious illness.  A trio of weddings is remarkable and memorable enough, but this forthcoming experience might well top it.  We hit the road for the Vail area in two hours.

Notes:

  1. As he put it: “People who know people who wanna know people”: a lovely way to phrase how we’re apt to be very welcome guests to even complete strangers, folks who would be excited to meet and hang with us on recommendation alone.
  2. “Matron of Honor” seems like a title that is well beyond the years of Tracy, but them’s the rules.
  3. She just keeps getting better.  Looking out for (and being receptive to) such unexpected upgrades in my beloved is a model for marriage I can now heartily recommend.  Thank god we marry people (which are ever growing) and not things (which are fixed & unchanging).
  4. Whose delightfully memorable name is too crude to print in plain site, so out of respect for parental types I’ll not do so.  For everyone else, you may have it revealed by clicking here.
  5. And being curmudgeoney as we are, we’re only good for like 2, 3 days tops of that sort of thing.
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Destined for a Comfy Bed

June 6th, 2012 No comments

Our first night out of the friends-and-family circuit found us pitching our tent at Great River Bluffs State Park, a lushly forested area with high overlooks of the Mississippi River, located in in Minnesota and situated right across from La Crosse, WI.  We got settled in the afternoon (a good idea as this was Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, we snagged one of the last 2 available sites), and backtracked into La Crosse to catch dinner1.

When we made our way back to camp the rains were in full force.  We contented ourselves to curl up in the tent and watch Kung Fu Panda on my laptop, which took us to bed time (which is indeed a flexible concept these days: on a night like that one, for example, turning in before the sun has fully set is surprisingly acceptable and desirable).

It rained all night.  Even the inside walls of our rather resilient tent were soggy by morning.  In the morning after a walk we packed it in and hit the road.  I was feeling a little gruff and we had laundry to do, so we resolved to take a night off from camping and grab a hotel for the next night.  By negotiating by way of William Shatner’s PriceLine PowersTM we found a fine hotel to stay in in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for $50.  It seemed like a nudge and a wink from the Universe that we were on the right track when we found Kung Fu Panda 2 premiering on HBO in our room that night, so you can guess our evening’s entertainment.

The next day we were back on the trail headed for the Badlands, ready to give camping another go.  Incessant winds and a low of 38 degrees marked this night, and a forecast throughout South Dakota for the coming week didn’t look much better.  It had been our plan to take it slow and camp our way through the Badlands and the Black Hills, but clearly this called for some revising.  This was a bummer, for star gazing in the nighttime sky there in the Badlands was the most spectacular I’d ever seen, with the Milky Way quite clearly visible (though the prevailing winds kept me from lingering to enjoy during that mid-night potty break anyhow).  Additionally, by this time my gruffness had turned into a no-doubt-about-it cold.

So off we went again, this time retreating to the comforts of the Alex Johnson, the posh historic hotel in downtown Rapid City for which we scored a ridiculously good deal ($41) on Kayak for the night.  The AJ would be our base of operations for seeing the Black Hills attractions, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.

Both are impressive carvings, but Crazy Horse really sticks out to me as a mind-bogglingly inspiring demonstration of what gumption, vision, and perseverance is able to create.  They’ve been working on it for over 60 years, and by “they” I don’t mean a rotating cadre of anonymous employees of some large, well-funded organization (which is what usually springs to mind when an unqualified “they” is employed in language).  Nope, the “they” behind this decades-long endeavor is predominantly a single family: a fellow named Korczak Ziolkowski started it in 1949, and today it is run by his surviving wife and 7 (out of 10) of their children.  It’s a family business and an impressive one at that: the whole project is funded on admissions, on-site sales of souvenirs and whatnot, and donations.  They’ve turned down any and all government funding offered over the years.  One dude.  One family.  Probably a 3 or 4 generation project and legacy.  And they’re pulling it off.  A fine data point to illustrate the power of intention and play to create something rad in this world.

After our limited and less-than-hardcore sightseeing junket in SD we continued on to our next residence, 4 nights at the Inn at Silver Creek in Granby, CO.  Another find on AirBNB, our space there was a studio complete with kitchen and wi-fi.  By this time I was just plain hungry for some straight-up work time: just me, the laptop, and an internet connection.  I mean, ostensibly we’d just lived the last month on vacation.  It warms my heart to think how deliciously important it is for me to be actively creating something vis-a-vis work on a regular basis2.

After the whirlwind of activity and camping, life in Granby was a sweet change of pace, and more indicative of how the flow of World Tour is set to go: a nice tidy abode which we get to settle into for a while, a kitchen for preparing most of the meals, and biding our time with having outdoor adventures, reading books, writing blogs, watching streaming Netflix3, and doing productive work.

The resort we stayed at offered a very nice lobby area with comfy couches, vaulted ceilings with skylights, stuffed bears and mounted bucks, old-timey jazz tunes, a 12-foot desk overlooking the balcony, and wi-fi.  I called this space my office, and even made a regular practice of things like “going off to work” and “coming home for lunch” by way of a walk down a long hallway through the resort complex.  Going off to work to a dedicated space during this nomadic existence is a treat indeed, and yields immense focus for inspired work.

Speaking of inspired work, Tracy and I have made a game of fitness capitalizing on a feature I’m developing, Metrics, as part of the new version of CoachAccountable.  We’ve resolved to do 60 minutes of exercise every day: biking, abs, pushups, yoga, power walking, whatever.  We’re testing out Metrics to track our progress: daily reminders sent by a text to Tracy’s phone keeps this “good idea” around and in our face, lest it just eventually fall out of vogue to be ultimately abandoned.  A quick reply via text and our score for the day is captured.  Easy peezy.  You can see how we’re doing by the graph the system makes for us:

(For sure it would be more impressive had my (and then Tracy’s) catching of a cold not derailed us for the last while, but you get the gist!)

We’re currently staying in a tidy little home in the Denver area, rather again impressed and inspired by the efficiency of smaller spaces.  For the coming month we’ve got 2 weddings to attend and a much more relaxed lifestyle to live, and that to me is just perfect.

Notes:

  1. This was my last chance to get a Wisconsin signature all-you-can-eat fish fry.  It was pretty good, but I think I’m coming into a new maturity about all-you-can-eat situations: just because I can eat that much, doesn’t mean I should.
  2. Which I don’t think is to say I’m a workaholic.  Rather, I reckon I just couldn’t pull off an existence of living on some gorgeous beach with nothing to do day in and day out.
  3. During this leg of the journey we enjoyed a nightly installment of the most excellent Sherlock, a rather excellent modern day incarnation Sherlock Holmes.
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