29 November, 2007

DURING . . .

The day of my wedding.

I woke quickly. I was immediately alert to the fact that it was my wedding day. What a sweet revelation to feel as the first thought.

Prayers first. Then a single serving of oatmeal. I amused myself with the idea that it was a single serving--does that mean after the wedding, I have to eat two packets??? Then my walk and meditation/prayer time at the mountaintop. As a treat, I walked myself over to Starbucks to have a latte and review the vows I wrote to Don.

John had ensured that my wedding day gift and card was there for Don when he got up. I had also written and dedicated today's entry in the Agape's Inner Visions magazine for our wedding.

On the way back, I spotted an unusual sight of an orange tabby cat walking--well, actually, it looked more like dancing-- with a woman and her daughter. I smiled but my mind went to the Lost Cat flyer on our door telling of an orange tabby who got out. Fressen is very friendly and will go with you or into your house. Hmmmm.... I backtracked my steps to ascertain if the orange cat belonged to that woman and child, and as evidenced by their having walked further up the block without him/her, I knew it was not. So I walked up to the cat who came hobbling over to me very eagerly. It was then I could tell that his/her right front leg and paw were swollen twice the size and he his hobbling was what I misconstrued as his dancing. He was very talkative and friendly. I made mental note of his markings and walked home to call the name on the flier. I was a bit apprehensive about this but also thought that even though this cat did was sans the collar and tag described, I thought if it had gotten hit recently, the tag could have come off. I left a cautious and detailed message to the owner. Shortly, she called me back and I gave a recap of what I knew. I offered to walk back over to where I saw the cat and call her to see if she would recognize his voice. Instead, she took off work and showed up.

Both our hearts fell when she realized this orange tabby was not her cat. We learned from some neighbors who just arrived that he was indeed a happy stray who lived on the block. I felt horrible that she had gotten her hopes up based on my call; but I also knew that I would have felt worse to not have tried. So I did a little prayer for each of them and went back to get showered and ready for my wedding.

My maid of honor, Jessi and her partner, April arrived at 2:00 p.m. to help and get me to the chapel. We loaded up two cars with tote bins of decorations, programs, the ring pillow, etc. Fortunately, Jessi remembered to ask if I had loaded the gown (I had not because I was hiding it in the front closet out of view) or it would have been awful. April drove HenryHonda to the chapel so Don and I would have our car there for us after the ceremony. I called Don to see what he was doing and he and John were watching football!

Jillian was at the chapel waiting for me to do my hair. Sunshine had arrived and was helping Mark Johnston arrange the table decorations for the reception. The women were all in the one room which served as an office and dressing room. Every time someone had to use the bathroom, I hid in the other bathroom so no one would see me. It was exciting and I did my best to stay conscious and in present time for myself and those who were there with me. Rev. Nancy Zala arrived looking ministerially radiant. Don and John arrived at 4:50 p.m. but I didn't get to see them. We were ready for the homestretch and Jo and Bridget Blaine (my flower girls) and I went into the little ladies bathroom to put on my gown. Or so we thought . . .

Everything was in place and ready to go except that we couldn't get my dress to go on. I was avoiding putting the gown over my head as I had already put on my veil and make-up and my hair was in a fancy up-do. Nevertheless, when we could not get the dress over my petticoat, we tried it over my head and still could not get it over my shoulders. My one and only moment of freakosity. And yet, I knew this gown fit perfectly just two days ago so something was amiss.
After several attempts, Jo lifted the dress off and we ascertained that the seamstress had left a pin in the dress for the bustle to hold the train. Thank heavens. The dress went on and we were ready in short order. However, what we had not realized was how much time had passed after Mark publicly announced to the guests that it was time for a wedding. I learned the next morning when we took Joy & Lorin to brunch, that many of the guests were being creative in coming up with stories to explain the delay.

It was now after 5:00 p.m. and dark. I was ready and dashed out to meet Stephen Record, my bridal escort. Grabbing my exquisite bouquet, I was so grateful that I had the prescience to request pungent flowers so that the aromatics would help keep me grounded. I had not had a chance to look in the mirror before I went out but Stephen's wide grin helped me to know that I was OK. He was beaming proudly as he hugged me. He kept an eye out to be sure that the rest of the wedding party had gone inside before we came around to the chapel doors. And then, I heard the music inside and in an instant the chapel doors opened and it began---the magic of my wedding.

The chapel looked so sweet in the candlelight. All these people were standing and staring at me. And then John had Don turn around to see me and I saw him for the first time and oh my goodness, I simultaneously melted and became airborne. Don was (as I had envisioned and knew he would be) stunningly handsome in his tuxedo. He seemed pleased and then he motioned for me to come on down. I motioned for him to wait so that I could soak up the moment. This was one of the hazy moments as we walked down the aisle; I could see the faces of certain people but I was not fully in my body. Stephen gave me a kiss and then placed me before my groom and Rev. Nancy.

Rev. Michael Kearney gave the invocation and Rev. Nancy started the ceremony and I interrupted and asked that the guests be seated before we went on. Thank heavens that Rev. Nancy knows me so well and was tolerant and understanding of the many times I interjected into the proceedings. And then Don stopped and called forth his sister, Char and her husband, Dave to find their reserved seats in the front row.

Don and I were fixated on each other. He was dashingly handsome as we agreed to the vows Rev. Nancy offered. Then it was time for our personal vows and Don had asked to go first. Don said a few lovely things and then out of the corner of my eye, I see Ken Lyons pull out a guitar from under the front pew. Had Don asked Ken to sing at our wedding without telling me? But then I saw Don take a few steps backward and had an interesting countenance and I gulped. Ken began to play and Don was about to sing to me! Only slightly musically tentative at first, Don began to see sing one of our songs, "Now and Forever" by Richard Marx. Once Don returned to standing opposite me and focused upon singing directly to me, he sang beautifully. In fact, he had never sounded better. I was needless to say, floored. Somehow with their busy schedules, the fires and everything else, Ken had learned the song and rehearsed with Don. What a sweet and brave gift from them both.

My vows were for the most part, written ahead of time because I was concerned that I might forget to include something important. I gave a little background commentary ("Don, you had me at Starbuck's . . .)and then I made my declarations directly to Don. It was potent to be so clear and committed.

Rev. Nancy called for the rings from Grant Lyons. I handed Jessi my bouquet and gloves. My ring went on effortlessly; but it was a bit tight to get Don's on for him. And then suddenly, Rev. Nancy was about to go into the close and I stopped her. It was going so fast and seemed so short. I needed to pause and breathe and be sure I was there for the declaration, the Big Smackeroo and The Pronouncement. People applauded and seemed genuinely happy as we walked together up the aisle to our recessional song, "I'm A Believer" by The Monkees.

Mark set us up in a recessional line to greet guests. I squealed with D'light at the first person to call me Mrs. Converse! Even though I am keeping my name, it was down right sweet to hear my married name.

After greeting every person and taking a few quick photos (thank you, Larry Paris who agreed to serve as photographer for us; and the dear friends who took some candid shots for us) we went around to the back of the patio and Mark introduced "Mr. and Mrs. Donald Converse will now have their first dance." People applauded and Don and I danced to the song we chose, "After All" by Peter Cetera and Cher. Happily for the guests, I had Mark go ahead and serve the food while the receiving line and photos were in progress. Don and I fixed a few bites for ourselves but we were mostly about visiting with folks.

There were 11 tables on the patio but it was not as accommodating an arrangement for being able to mingle and talk with everyone even though we tried to do so. Mostly, people kept coming up to us for a hug or to talk. Then as Best Man, John Kurko and Maid of Honor, Jessi Benton Jones gave us a ceremonial toast. Mark took the microphone around the patio and several other people shared anecdotes and good wishes. One particular 'sharing' and toast came from Mrs. Marilyn Moody who was my high-school drama teacher and good friend ever-since. Moody has always been so supportive of my life and work and we have stayed in touch all these years. To see and her her so vulnerable and loving in what she shared about our relationship was so significant to me.

We finally got around to the yummy chocolate cake. I had certainly been saving up my gluten and calories for this night and I was not disappointed. And did I mention there was a long table that seemed to be over-flowing with prezzies. It was awesome.

Don and I were among the last to leave. John generously loaded all the gifts into his car so that we could go on our way to our wedding night hotel. We shared in loading up all stuff and then as we were leaving, Don noted that the last song on our reception music CD was playing, "Beginnings" by Chicago. We were in the car at 8:45 p.m. and beginning our new journey together.

We arrived at the Bret Scripps B & B in Bankers Hill. Online I had found this gorgeous Victorian Bed and Breakfast that knocked my socks off. We agreed we both wanted something special for this night--not just a nice hotel--and we splurged. It was worth in. Walking up the steps in our wedding garb, we checked in. The only thing this place was missing--well, maybe I was the only one missing it-- was a large guest book on the front counter for us to sign in as Mr. and Mrs. Smith....er, I mean, we were official now... Converse.

The concierge made us a pot of tea and we went to our room. I hopped up on top this amazing (and high) plumpfy bed and we sat and talked about what we just shared. I drank my tea in my gown so I could appreciate it awhile longer. We marvelled at the detail and first-class consciousness this hotel provided. Well, the long, magical day was wrapping up and coming to a close... as is my sharing . . . for now as we hang out the Privacy/Do Not Disturb sign on our door.

Here comes the Bride....

25 November, 2007

BEFORE . . .

Disclaimer warning for the grumpy or forlorn: I am going to share about the process of our wedding from the before, during and after phases. Read at your own risk as these entries are going to be saturated in bliss, decorated in joy and overflowing with love.
Whether anyone will be interested in this trilogy I am posting, I know knot ( spelling pun there on purpose). Here goes . . .


I had Thanksgiving day to reflect, contemplate, cry, laugh and prepare for my wedding. Don went over to Kasa Kurko's early in the day with 'the boys' to watch football. I took the morning to honor my annual tradition of watching the Macy's Day Parade. It was wonderful to stay in my PJ's and watch the show. Of late, it's the Tony Awards and the Macy's Parade as to how I keep up with the NY theatre scene. I love watching the cast perform selected musical numbers in front of Macy's from their latest Broadway shows.

Part of the reason I chose to spend the morning by myself was because I knew that watching the parade as I have done since being tiny, would trigger memories of my mother and I wanted to let my emotions or responses be free and not feel self-conscious or color anyone else's experience of this holiday. Today's tears were gentle and sweet and I valued my time of reflection and remembrance.

Then Don's sister, Char came over around noon to pick me up--and she came bearing Starbucks tea! We spent the time at John's table folding the wedding programs. Unfamiliar but pleasant was this family thing in progress. Thanksgiving dinner was cooking and here we were folding wedding programs. My wedding programs, to boot.

Since I don't eat turkey, eschewing wheat and having a wedding gown to don (get it?) I didn't have much to eat. However, that just reinforced that Thanksgiving is so much more than the meal. I did choose to leave before they brought out the pie. In old-fashioned tradition, Don agreed to my request that he sleep at John's the night before our wedding, so I went home to be with Jezebelle. Just the goils. I also had a few more wedding details to complete--the bridal party gifts, packing my overnight bag and finishing my vows. For my treat, I turned on the TV Land the "I Love Lucy" marathon--that beats pie any day! And I was doubly blessed in that I caught two of my favorite episodes: when Lucy tries to tell Ricky she is pregnant ("enciente") and then the episode when she goes to the hospital to give birth --which for trivia buffs aired the same night after she gave birth in real life that morning. In that episode was also one of the character actresses who played several small roles throughout the series, Peggy Rea, as one of the maternity nurses. Peggy Rea was my dressing-roommate when I did my first Equity stage play, "Juno and the Paycock" at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

This was a sweet night. Danielle called to see how I was doing and give me love. Talked to Jessi about our plans for tomorrow's wedding. And as Rev. Nancy defined for me, I was "wildly fascinated" by the fact that I was getting married tomorrow. I loved that phrase, wildly fascinated because it so aptly describes the whimsical yet contemplative state in which I moved through my day. Fascinated by this whole process of the ritual of a wedding and wild about the fact that it is my wedding.

Married? What does that mean? Why is it so potent, powerful and magical? Yes, I have been married before but that was then, this is now. I am such a different person. Life is so different. There is maturity to factor into the mix. I really feel that I am coming to our wedding and the experience of marriage with new eyes and a deeper understanding of the process. I am thankful for the experience and the value of my marriage with David, and ever thankful that we are still such dear friends. So, when I walk down the aisle tomorrow, it will be a very conscious choice that came as a result of years of my inner spiritual work, prayer, trust, and oh yeah, that love thang.

Oh, and today while watching the Westminster Dog Show, I learned that a dog, a Newfoundland survived the Titanic. That bit of information wildly fascinates me, too.

Sweet dreams . . .

City Slackers

No, I did not misspell the title of this post. Yes, I was playing off of the comedy film title, "City Slickers" about a bunch of...