Friday, May 15, 2009

Happily Ever After in Alabama

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to attend what can only be described as a fairytale wedding. The bride and groom were both friends from college, which also gave me the opportunity to see some other college friends. And, since the wedding took place in a small town in Alabama, it was also quite the cultural experience!

APL and I flew into Nashville on Friday, where we met up with my friend DS at the airport. DS is such a true New Yorker (grew up on Staten Island and now lives in Manhattan) that she never even bothered to get her driver’s license. Thus, she had to use her passport to get to Tennessee, which I thought was pretty hilarious and appropriate. Since it had been four years since I last saw DS, I was surprised (and yet somehow not surprised) that we slipped right back into friendship as if no time had passed at all. Getting to reconnect with DS was one of the very best parts of the whole weekend. Now I’m just hoping that we can see each other again before four more years pass!

Though I tried my hardest, the weekend was basically a gluten-free FAIL. For example, when we left the airport in Tennessee we stopped at a Cracker Barrel to get something to eat before driving to Alabama. I spent a full five minutes talking to the waiter about whether or not there was any wheat in their salad dressings. I told him that I had a wheat allergy, which is usually easier to explain than “gluten-free.” He finally suggested oil and vinegar, which I said sounded great. He then proceeded to serve me my salad with a mountain of wheat-full croutons. Instead of being picky and sending the salad back, I let DS and APL eat the croutons. Then I poured the oil and vinegar on my salad and began to eat only to discover that he had given me malt vinegar, which (a) is made from barely and thus not gluten-free and also (b) totally disgusting on salad.

The wedding itself was completely crazy. Due to large families and lots of friends, the wedding party consisted of the bride, the groom, eleven bridesmaids, eleven groomsmen, two ushers, four hostesses, four flower girls, one ring bearer and one honorary ring bearer (who wasn’t old enough to walk yet). That’s 36 people in the wedding party alone!!

The reception was held at the country club (obviously!) overlooking the Tennessee River. Despite horrific rain early Saturday morning the sun seemed to come out just in time for the wedding party to take gorgeous pictures on the perfectly manicured lawn. There was champagne, martinis, and wine; crab and shrimp cocktail; and a gorgeous wedding cake (which I did not eat, due to gluten, but it looked beautiful!). And despite having a million guests to greet, we actually got to hug the bride and groom and take some pictures with them. (Ok, to be fair, DS and I totally ambushed the bride with hugs, so she didn’t actually have much choice in the matter!) The evening ended with a fantastic fireworks show and the bride and groom running out to their limo through an alley of friends and family holding sparklers. You couldn’t ask for a more fairytale wedding! I’m really glad I got to be there.

But, because this blog is all about honestly, I find myself wanting to admit that while the wedding seemed to go perfectly, it really wasn’t very easy for me to be there because I didn’t feel very well at all. After the flight and the two-hour drive to Alabama and some sleeping pills, I still didn’t sleep very well on Friday night. I woke Saturday morning to a bloodstained pillowcase, despite my attempts at wearing a Hello Kitty band-aid to bed. The sore on my lip is still there, even though it has been more than three weeks, and it’s sort of hard to feel pretty with a bloody scab in the middle of your face. I also had a lot of pain to contend with that day. My whole body hurt from sitting on the wooden pews in the church, even though the service was relatively short. I had to wear ugly sandals to the reception because my feet just couldn’t handle the cute ones (even though they were just plain flats). My wrist locked up from holding the hors'dourves plate for only a few minutes, which was really painful, and by the end of the evening my fingers were so tired from holding things that I kept spilling my drink.

Also, aside from the physical pain, it was sort of hard for me to be there emotionally. I find that I don’t quite know how to explain this feeling without sounding completely selfish, so please bear with me while I try.

There is so much happiness going on right now in the lives of my family and friends. The bride’s happiness was so overpowering that she was absolutely glowing with it and it even made me cry a little when I finally got to hug her. And on the exact same day as this wedding, my little brother graduated from culinary school and got his tall chef hat, my very good friend RK (as well as all the people I was a 1L with) graduated from law school, and my cousin graduated from college. Another friend just got accepted to the graduate program of her dreams and a friend from high school just had a baby. Yet another friend is starting her dream job at the end of the summer and still another is getting married in July. I am sincerely happy for all of these amazing milestones that are filling the lives of my friends and families with joy.

However, when I think about all of these wonderful things in the lives of the people I love, I can’t help feeling just a little but sad about it. I don’t feel like “jealousy” is the right word, because I feel like when you are “jealous” of someone you want to detract from his or her happiness because of your own unhappiness. But that isn’t what I want at all. I want all of my friends and family members to be as happy as possible, and if there are ways that I can add to their happiness – like going to their wedding – then I certainly want to do that. But I still can’t help feeling at least a twinge of self-pity about the state of my own life over the past year and the fact that the last big milestone in my life was my RA diagnosis.

But I know that I am still going forward and that if I just keep positive I will eventually get back to the big and happy milestones of life. In the meantime, I have learned to celebrate much smaller milestones, like an enormous breakfast with an old friend at the Waffle House or hearing that PN and AN spoiled my puppy rotten while we were away. And I know that I’m really lucky to have friends and family with such happiness in their own lives to help get me through the rough patches in mine. Because these sure are some rough patches.


KCFitch said...

Z, it sounds like you are right on track. Celebrate the little things and before you know it, the bigger things will be back on your menu!

Speaking of bigger things, I'd call a successful gluten-free blog a pretty big milestone... I know I'm jealous!

Little Red said...

It was so amazing to see you in the 'bama, missy! And I know that life has been throwing lemons at your face for a while now...but it seems like you've learned how to make some rockin' lemonade. Pretty much my hero. :-)

Miss you already.