Bailey and Pete's camp-out wedding in the the rural backwoods of Athens Ohio
I realize it's been a while since I've checked in here at the blog, but I promise you I have very good reasons. Once in a life time reasons. Two weeks ago, I officiated the marriage of two of my favorite people in the world- Bailey and Pete. I've known Bailey and Pete for about seven years. We met at about the same time I met all of the best people I know, back in college at USC. People always used to ask me why I went all the way to South Carolina for college, and for a long time I didn't have a good answer. But in retrospect, I know exactly the reason. I had to go to USC because I had to meet these people. I know most everyone thinks highly of their friends, but I really cannot express how grateful I feel to even just know this amazing group of individuals; to call the my dearest friends is an honor. Each one of them inspires me to be better human being. Each one of them pursues their passions in life with awareness, with thought and care, with determination and persistence. They think deeply about the world, they celebrate nature, and they embrace the unknown. I can say with absolute certainty that I would not be the person I am today without having these remarkable individuals in my life. We've shared countless adventures together, all of us eager to explore this great big world. So while it wasn't what we expected, it really is no surprise that after college ended, we scattered ourselves across the country, each choosing a new adventure to pursue. We all had reasons for our choices, we all had things to sort out on our own, and I think we all agree that no mistakes were made in splintering off the way we did.
But we were very much naive in our early ideas of how often we'd be able to reconnect. For a group that planned many an epic road trip and who's feet itch if we stay in the same place too long, we imagined ourselves popping in on one another at our various homesteads all the time. As it turns out, having a job with limited vacation time, being fairly broke, and having all your friends and family residing in different corners of the country is not conducive to such frequent visits. For many of us, we haven't had an opportunity to seen one another in over four years. So in the days before the wedding, when we all started boarding planes and packing up cars to head to Ohio, the joy and excitement was palpable. It gives me chills to even think of it. We reveled in a three day reunion, spending our first evening in a cozy cabin in the woods, while rain drizzled lazily onto a vibrant display of leaves getting ready to drop from the trees. The next few nights we camped out on a stunning little land preserve in the backwoods of Athens, where the wedding took place. The sky was overcast, which only made the scenery more beautiful. Periodically the rain would come back and give everything a slow but thorough soaking. We romped around the woods, we made flower arrangements for the tables and setup up the wedding tent, we soaked up long-overdue conversations late into the night by a crackling fire... it was nothing short of magical. And all of that came before the very best part- the wedding itself.
I've never officiated a wedding before, but days after getting engaged, Bailey asked me if I would, and I could not imagine a greater gift to be able to give to her and Pete. What I was not anticipating, is what I gift it would be to me. Saturday morning, October 11'th, we woke up to the sun peaking through the clouds. The first that I'd seen of it in the days we spent there. The light glittered off the dewy grass and shone beautifully upon the stage on which the ceremony was to be held. And at 4:30 pm, the wedding began. Amy played the cello, accompanying Eric's guitar, as the bridal party marched up to the stage, beaming with joy, smiles ear-to-ear. And then Bailey turned the corner, arms hooked around her father's, who could not have looked more proud. He walked her to the stage, hugged Pete, and the ceremony began.
I had been nervous. I wanted so badly to help make this day as special and magical as possible, to say something fitting of an occasion celebrating the love and union of two unparallelled people who I deeply love and admire. But the nervousness was entirely unwarranted. What I said was from the heart. It was an honest and thoughtful reflection on what a strong and vibrant team they make and how each of their strengths as individuals is only made better through one another's love and how any weaknesses they may see in themselves are more than compensated for in their pairing. And to be standing between the two of them, celebrating them, and joining them together in marriage was one of the most amazing things I've ever done in my life. I will never forget it. Looking into their eyes, seeing their love and happiness just spill out in front of me, and trying to put in words a love that is so far beyond words... it was such a beautiful experience.
That day is one of the most memorable I've ever had. And I can't recall a time when it was harder to leave a place. I'd like to say that I flew straight home and fell into Chris' arms, crying half out of happiness from the experiences I just shared and half out of sadness for having to leave. But I did not fly home. I flew, instead- exhausted, sad, and more hung-over than I would have liked- to Philadelphia, where I spent the next week scrambling to get a life cycle assessment done on a very expensive piece of software that a professor there allowed me access to.
The trip was tiring and challenging to say the least, but it had one very notable highlight- my parents made the five hour drive down from Massachusetts to spend dinner, an evening, and a stretched out morning with me, which helped to lift my spirits. I'm home now, and while I'd go back to that field in Ohio in a heartbeat, I feel like a part of me has been recharged by having spent those days with my friends. And I feel grateful for my home, for Chris, and for the life we've created here. Although I was reminded of how much I miss spending time with those people, I am also reminded of how much a part of me they are, and how they are present in so many different aspects of my life, even while we're thousands of miles apart. While I was away from Riverside, fall started creeping in, and with this change in weather our rabbit, Clarence, decided that he wants to live outside full-time. He made himself a little home inside the lemongrass patch, and spends his days hoping about the yard, foraging dried bananas that fell from our tree and soaking up the cool breeze that's been lingering through the morning. He's set off on his own little adventure now, and I can't help but feel so proud. If you love something, let it go. You'll never be as far apart as you think, and you'll only both learn and grow, and have more to share the next time you are blessed with a moment to reconnect.
Hi there! I'm Cara- plant ecologist, gardening addict, and whole foods enthusiast. My whole life revolves around plants, including my kitchen. Join me here at LWM each week as I post local, seasonal, plant-based recipes and write about my never ending quest to find balance and tranquility in this crazy little world.