So I’ve been in Denver/recovering from being in Denver for the last week. Judging by the fact that I have gone to the grocery store and joined the local health club/caf-o-gym-o-torium (without staying to actually, you know, work out) and now am about to call my 4:00 appointment to see if I can come over early because I have big plans that involve dinner from the fridge (to be fair: salad) (to be fairer: green salad, not pimento cheese) and the rest of last season’s “Downton Abbey” and don’t want to interrupt those in order to put on clothes and converse with intelligent folk, I’d say recovery is still in progress.
We arrived Wednesday early afternoon. Since air travel now requires us to leave four hours before our flight, that meant that I had to get up at 5:30 in the morning. I had a refreshing two hours of sleep prior to my wakeup call, so I think you can guess that the first thing we did when arriving in the mile-high city was take a nap. It was glorious.
Then I met up with my law school people and we commenced our annual reunion. To clarify-in my first year of school, our law school put us into small groups/social experiments that were required to meet periodically the first year of school. It was to help make sure none of us went truly weird during our first year. (Hint: we still did, anyway.) Anyway, most people’s groups did the required meeting, and then went their own ways. My group, being overachievers, kept meeting. And we still keep meeting, annually now, for reunions! We all sat together at graduation, etc. etc.
So Wednesday night, we met at this place. It was amazing-beer and cheese…IN SOUP FORM. My life is now complete. And I discovered a beer that I enjoy drinking without having to mentally prepare myself first. Something called a “cream ale”. Delicious. Anyway, I got to snuggle my friend A’s daughter, S, who is approximately three minutes old and still tiny and floppy and smells new and I was in heaven. I may or may not have called dibs on her for the rest of the weekend.
And then Thursday, I got up and went to Tattered Cover, which is one of my favorite bookstores. (In fact, I went there twice during this trip, which makes this a hugely successful trip in my book.) I found several great books, “Empty Mansions” (which I’m reading now), “Inventing Wine” (which I had never heard of before), some book on what happened to Detroit (I can’t remember the exact title, but something about Detroit and autopsy…) because that’s interesting to me, and then another book on Columbine because that also is puzzling and heartbreaking yet also interesting to me.
And I also read, get this, half an entire book on my Kindle. So…proof that I actually read in addition to All. The. Television.
And then I drove up to Boulder intending on going to visit the Don Campbell collection at the music library there to hear some of his recordings with the organ greats of last century, and then meeting up with the law school folks for lunch and then more beer. Except it was move-in day at CU. It took me an hour to get from the highway to the street that leads to campus. An hour and several, SEVERAL uttered words of which I am not proud.
I figured I had actually heard most of those before (because I am pretty sure I have) and so I jettisoned the plan for the music and just headed straight to brunch/lunch. We ate lunch, I had a cucumber martini (which has the singular honor of being the only drink I have ever ordered that was truly awful…undrinkable awful…I think it had as its primary ingredient rocket fuel.) and visited. After we got done, we made plans to meet back up in Fort Collins and tour some breweries and sample some better libations.
And then baby S decided to get sick. Like the kind of sick that comes out of both ends. So her family unit bailed so my friend S and I went on up to Fort Collins by ourselves and drank some beer. And S tried to teach me about it.
And I now understand that it is possible to geek out about beer like I geek out about wine. Unfortunately, besides the fact that hops are integral to THE WHOLE shootin’ match, I know nothing still about beer. S tried valiantly, though, and you should definitely talk to him if you want to know more about beer. He’s ALWAYS up for a lesson. And a sampling!
And then we drove back down to Denver and gathered at Baby S’s (and her people’s) apartment in the city and ordered cheap Chinese takeout and played games and discussed Port wine and bottle-shock.
Friday morning dawned and we slept in (whew) and then S and her people left the reunion and the second shift, my friend B and his wife A, flew in. We met up for beer (quelle surprise!) and then shifted over to a Polish bar. Where I had yummy horseradish vodka and pickles (mmmmmmm) and then fried pierogies. (Insert Homer Simpson-drooling sound here.) It was delicious, and our group leader, K, her husband N, and their son, A, all had a lovely time, too. A is at the age now where he is becoming his own little person and he is a HOOT. N had a shot of black pepper vodka which looked SCARY, and he decided it would have been tasty in a bloody mary, but watching him shoot that thing was a highlight of my life, thus far.
And after that, I went over to the official wedding festivities. Friday night was a reception at my cousin H’s house. (H was the bride, T was the groom.) All of my Gigantic Family was there, and my friend S was my date to the wedding, but he wisely made the choice not to go to the reception on Friday with me. It basically consisted of “Oh HI! How are you-oh HI I hadn’t seen you how have you be-HEY! So good to see you! Your dress looks amaz-wait oh my gosh she’s sooooo big!!! Look at those teeth-HI! That drink looks great-where did you find i-Hey there! Stay right there I’ll be right….” (You get the picture, yes?) And then after I had made my way into the actual party instead of being at the door greeting everybody, they started playing a slideshow, and that’s when I had The Meltdown of the weekend.
Look, we knew that this is the year of firsts. The first birthday without him, anniversary, etc. I knew there would be some weird this weekend. And there was. But mostly, it was good. It was VERY GOOD. Because life is, isn’t it? But that didn’t stop me from melting down after being in sensory overload and then also the slideshow.
Anyway, I also realized that my cousin Maya and I were wearing THE SAME DRESS (thankyouverymuch, Maya Ling…) to the party. Maya is cute and tiny, and looked better in it, but we both looked adorable if I do say so. It was just embarrassing. We did not commemorate the occasion in photos, but I did promise her it would make the blog. So there. My memory runs deep, Cousin.
So after the reception, we went back to the hotel and crashed. Saturday dawned early and we gathered in the lobby for breakfast and I helped Maya get her children situated so that she could actually eat breakfast, too. Toddlers are not neat folk, dear reader. And they are NOT low-maintenance, either. I had already eaten, but now I know how Maya stays tiny after having three of these little creatures. She simply hasn’t had the opportunity to eat since Miss S happened five years ago. And her middle-toddler, C, has food allergies. So throw that into the mix and eating becomes part KGB-operation because her littlest one, Baby L, has figured it out. He spent a fair amount of time at breakfast trying to feed C some eggs (a verboten substance), leading to both Miss S and C sounding MAJOR ALERTS to both parental units about this offense. I can’t quite figure out why C had to tell everybody at breakfast about this infraction rather than just simply…you know…NOT EATING THE EGG, but I’m betting distraction from the oatmeal she didn’t want to eat played a huge role in her logic.
Anyway, after my recovery nap (Seriously, Maya, did you forget??? Is this how come more of the toddlers happened? I can set up some sort of reminder for you, if you need.) then we went shopping (Tattered Cover, again, FTW) and then went back to the room to get ready for H and T’s wedding!!!
I’m pleased to say that Maya and I did NOT wear the same dress to the wedding, and more importantly, nobody had the same dress on as the Bride, either. Whew! 😉 Anyway, H looked great, T looked happy and like he couldn’t believe his good fortune, and all went well. Vows were exchanged, photos taken. Oh-and at one point during the ceremony, the preacher (pastor?) asked the family to stand up and make some kind of promise to the bride and groom. And literally the entire congregation stood except my friend S, and maybe three other people. And we all laughed because for once, my Gigantic Family was the smaller of the two families in attendance at this thing! T’s family is HUGE. We’re glad they’re part of us now!
And then it was time to party! In our Gigantic Family, several couples (Mama and Daddy included) are celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year. It was a big year for weddings, 1974. And they put them all at table number…get ready…40! It was really quite special. And I was getting a little bit teary, and then Uncle B got up to speak. To welcome us all to the shindig.
And he captured perfectly why this weekend was weird, and wonderful, and he made it all better. (Thanks, Uncle B. I needed it.) I had a few cabernets at cocktail hour, so I don’t remember the whole thing, but in essence, he said that part of what made this so special was that there would always be another chance to sit down together. Another meal. Another gathering. (And fantastic I’m teary again, Uncle B. Dangit.) And in essence, he made the weird part okay. Yes, it’s weird that Daddy isn’t there. That the table of the Forties had an odd number of guests. That the slideshow has a very bittersweet connotation to me now. But you know what? This family? We continue. There will always be another meal. Another gathering. Characters may change. We grow. But we continue. Always.
And nothing else matters.
Thanks, Uncle B. S-I hope you had fun–my family can be overwhelming, so thanks for going with me and making it less so!
And now this post is long enough, so I’ll close.