Monday, August 25, 2014

This Summer's Wedding

As June bled into July, it seemed I was in a protracted stage play where the actors each made timely, carefully choreographed entrances.

Late June, mid-morning, the first actor loped from behind the curtain of my kitchen doorway. It was the groom–my adopted son Sean, a week ahead of schedule with that familiar vandalous grin spread across his sharp jaw.

Chika & Cal
On a Saturday some ten days later, through the windshield I saw my son Jack’s broad shoulders pop through an automatic door at the Indy airport. He’s the best man, home from Denver with a trimmed beard and fresh haircut. The next day, their brother, Cal sprung from his mom’s car in my driveway, tall and lean with a travel-wearing smile. He and his Japanese girlfriend, Chika had come from Tokyo. She introduced herself to me with a firm handshake. Soon thereafter the bride, Courtney arrived from Ohio, her signature lion’s mane of blonde hair framing that happy, childlike face.

A year ago right now, my kids were all living here. Since then they’ve each flown the coop. But for that week this house where my kids grew up was wonderfully full again.
Josh, the blonde, longhaired, bearded, barnstorming musician and groomsman entered the stage early in the week in time for beers and a pool party. His ready laughter was written deep in the week’s script.

Seeing Sean and Courtney’s accumulated relationships appearing one at a time in the form of family and old friends, reminded me of all the people we touch and who touch us as we move through life. There were cookouts, bar meet-ups and late night conversations around the kitchen table.

Some of those who played serious rolls or mere cameos first arrived at my house years ago on bicycles or skateboards in their early teens. Now they’re college grads spread across the country and around the world.
I don’t really recall when Schweke showed up, but he’s hard to miss with a face that never ages and a 1,000-watt smile. When I headed up the stairs to bed Wednesday night, I think he was the one who asked me to leave the front door unlocked. “Jake’s gonna arrive in the middle of the night from Nashville.” When I came down in the morning, Jake was asleep on the couch, an arm thrown across his face. He opened one eye and waved.
Later that day as I sat alone drinking a beer at a picnic table at Bonge’s in Perkinsville, waiting for the bachelor party to float down White River from Anderson, a fresh-faced young man wandered down the road toting a heavy backpack. He looked lost. I noted, then ignored him, then dashed down to the river to pull sun burnt and drunken groomsmen from their canoes & kayaks. The young man with the backpack was still waiting along the road when we returned to the restaurant. Turned out it was one of Sean’s college buddies, Michael, linking up with the group.

And Courtney’s brother Dan, too, found a place on my living room floor. A gentle soul with and a kind, sober-face, Dan would pass the time throwing Frisbee out front on Cherry Street.

The accumulated scenes played out at bars and restaurants, on patios and pools, and even on the river during that week were a testament to the rich relationships Sean and Courtney have created in their young lives. During the rehearsal dinner I looked about and noted common threads among those faces. None are shallow or foolish, no hot messes, no macho jerks, no lost souls. Not a one you wish would hurry up and go home. All are well-grounded young people composing the next act in their lives – taking new jobs, marrying, moving to new places.

The groomsmen at Bonge's: drunken & sunburnt
Birds of a feather.

There was a lot of beer, and some fun-loving craziness here and there, but more often there were thoughtful conversations about life, faith, love, and the possibilities that lay ahead. We are just past the clustered years of graduations with this group, and entering the years of weddings. When your kids are little people tell you to savor the moments, because they’ll grow up before you know it. Fear not. I enjoy the company of my children and their friends more now than ever.

Courtney & Sean at the wedding
And appreciating those faces, loving having them drinking beer on my patio or crashing on my couch reminds me that Sean and Courtney’s real journey didn’t start the way we often think of it – on the wedding day. Instead, they were already deep into the journey by that time, and the people who took the stage here were the proof – the ones they’d already gathered up along the road; the sympathetic souls that make up a circle of friends.

The wedding was held far from plastic-covered subdivisions and asphalt-ringed stip malls. It was in a grassy patch beneath tall ancient trees, ringed on all sides by cornfields – a place that still looks like Indiana. It went off without a hitch with each player reading his lines to perfection.

And as quickly as they came, they stepped off stage, scattering across the world, back to their personal journeys: gone in the morning, or dropped at the 
airport, or pulled away from the curb.

Buy Kurt's book: Noblesville
Visit Kurt's web page

No comments:

Post a Comment