Thursday, April 12, 2012

Love and New York

This past weekend, I had the supreme pleasure of singing in the wedding of my dear friends Julia and Olivier.  It was nerve wracking and occasionally frustrating and absolutely amazing.  I love singing, and this is the first time I've sung for friends with whom I am this close.  Luckily, I was able to sing the processional - "Ave Maria" - from the side of the altar, thus staving off a complete sobby meltdown upon seeing Juls come down the aisle in her stunning dress.  The ceremony was beautiful and I felt like I was getting a special treat as I sang from the front of the church; looking out at all of the happy faces there to celebrate Juls and Liv's special day made my heart grow three sizes with every hymn and psalm.

I spent that weekend in the company of old friends - Juls, Liv, Ben, Lucy, Katy, Lee, Dan, Tiff - and new ones.  The night before the wedding, Lucy and Lee and I went to see The Hunger Games while we waited for Ben to make his way to New York, then engaged in a traditional Olivier orgy of food and drink.  On the day of the wedding, Liv, Ben and I went on a rescue mission to the post office to pick up presents for the mother and father of the bride that had been trapped there.  (It's not a wedding until you've defrauded a government agency!) Later, I curled my hair perched on the edge of the couch while Ben napped and Katy buzzed around getting ready.  I felt so lucky to share this stunning weekend with people I love so much and for so many reasons.  These are people who know me better than anyone, and who bear me up when all else fails.  I am nothing without my friends.

Normally, any weekend with this group leaves my heart singing, but this weekend in particular was exceptionally stunning.  I felt throughout as though I was in a museum dedicated to love - love of all kinds, of all shapes, of all sizes and details.  From the time I arrived on Thursday for the rehearsal, much was made about the impending clash of cultures - Julia's family is Irish, stoic, dryly hilarious, and somewhat feelings-averse, whereas Olivier's French/Puerto Rican blend is effusive and more or less a whirling vortex of bisous and hugging.  There was only one sure thing: it was going to be spectacular.  And so it was - there were so many moments of beauty in these connections and interactions.  Those two families are definitive proof that love is a many splendored thing.

That's what I thought about, the whole weekend: just how many kinds of love there are, and how many were on display.  The ease of conversation between long-distant family members brought back together.  Little stories about everyday life that shape sisters and parents and children.  The drive to produce an orgy of food for visiting friends the night before your wedding.  Fussing over getting everything perfect for the ones you love; snapping when it isn't, glowing when it is.  Worrying about the welfare of a pigeon who has taken up residence on a balcony in Queens, and her two eggs.  A musical war between inappropriate rugby songs and old Irish songs and, mysteriously, rap.  Unfunny non-jokes made to ease the nervousness.  Shaking hands at the podium.  Hugs and yelling and dancing.  Tears.  Nested hands.  They're all manifestations of love, and it is nothing short of miraculous that so many of these wove a soft blanket around this wedding.  I believe in miracles, yes.

There is one more love that I couldn't help but notice that weekend...the love you can have for a place.  The reception closed with Sinatra's "New York, New York," with the dance floor packed with dangerously-high-kicking friends and everyone singing along.  There are New Yorkers who can be obnoxious about New York, but there is no denying that there is something special about it.  You cannot visit New York and not feel it's frantic, beating heart, even in the quietest neighborhoods, and you cannot, having felt this, question that your time in New York, there in that moment, wherever you are and whatever you're doing, is just one small part in a long, grand, strange, wonderful story that has been written for centuries and will go on for many more.  At 3 in the morning I looked out the window of the Cuckoo's Nest, from the afterparty, and watched Juls laugh with her friends, in her stunning, billowing dress, head sailing back, one small moment in the life of the City but so in control and the sole owner of the night, and thought, "this is a special place."  And it is.

Congratulations, Juls and Liv.  I couldn't be luckier to know you.

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