I just spent a few days on a farm, unlike no other. To recall what it looks like, I need to swipe through the hundreds of photographs on my phone, because it wasn’t the Tuscan countryside, the greenery, the oxygen, that made it magical, it was the people I shared a roof and sky with, the people whose stories made my mind speed, shattering the everyday routine of a mother’s secluded existence that has marked much of my recent life. People from all over the world. Most of them were strangers, a few I hadn’t seen in 13 years, my friend, the bride, with whom we share epic stories of a lifetime, even though we met half-way through, and my new friend, the groom.
Getting married at 40-something, is very different to getting married at 20. You know what love is. You know what you’re fighting for. What you’re sacrificing, and why. You know the faces you want to see, the smiles, the laughs, the silence, and you know that they will be there. The friends and family that you’ve held on till then, are bound to possess the fire you’ve burnt to get this far, to be this brave. I want to tell you about a few of them.
I’m going to start with those I know, dad, mom, stepmom and cousin of the bride, after knowing me for 24 hours over a decade ago, made me feel like I was coming home. It was hardly a bad home to come to, warm bear hugs, and a freedom of jokes and laughter that you can only have with those that are not your family.
It was a partly Swedish wedding, thanks to the groom, (the other part a medley of New York, Boston, Italian-America), and the tradition there is to have two people run the show. They ran it as if it was they who were getting married.
The groom’s mother, the absolute powerhouse, bustling with energy, humor, and surprising warmth that suddenly appeared out of nowhere and kept me asking for more.
A perfect couple, with a perfect family, beautiful beyond the initial flash of perfection, brought together by a story that makes me want to put the wife on my shoulders and parade her cheering, around a town square.
And Lauren, the only person whose name I feel free to mention, for I finally found the person who can integrate the word “fuck” more than I can into a single sentence at inappropriate moments. We laughed so long, so hard, that I swear I could see the abs peeking out of my post-pregnancy 40-year-old pooch.
(The rest I will save for a future novel.)
We gave speeches at the dinner table, sharing personal stories, toasting the newlyweds, and at no point was there nobody crying into the freshly made pizza on their plate, even though the speech-giving lasted close to two hours. At the ring of the bell (yes, there was a bell), silence fell, gazes searched for the next amazing tale. Half-way through mine, I blacked out, as if I’d fallen onto a huge white pillow, listening to my almost incoherent babble, but it didn’t matter, I was there, I was part of it, I remembered who I am. I remembered what is real, what is true, what I live for. In an old farmhouse, in the middle of nowhere, in the darkness, surrounded by nothing by bright, burning, human balls of light.