Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wild about Cheryl and Dave

Cheryl Strayed's Wild, her captivating memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone, is like potato chips.  Those yummy, addictive, thick-cut kind.  I've been eating for hours, the bag is still half-full, and I can't put it down.  Fortunately, unlike chips, the book isn't fattening.
Wild about Cheryl

We leave for Hawaii in two days.  I'm not packed.  Still have laundry to do. And this blog entry to write.  And eggs to stuff with poems. And I've completed only two of my four syllabi for fall.  I'm justifying my hours with the book because it's a fat hardback that would take up too much space in my carry-on.  I need to finish it so I can bring a small paperback instead.

As I read the book, I'm reminded of the only time I did something similar:  I once hiked alone for five hours across a volcano.  On the very island we are going to Monday to get married.

Wild about Dave
Then again, I suppose another similar event would be having sold everything I owned at age 29 and taking off to Japan alone to teach English.  My first taste of sushi was on the flight across the Pacific.  My first attempt to learn some Japanese phrases also occurred on that flight, as I was tutored by the passenger sitting next to me.  I was as unprepared for Japan as Cheryl was for the trail.  But I plunged off the cliff and, to paraphrase Ray Bradbury, my wings unfolded on the way down.

It's fun to be reminded of all of these life adventures now as I'm embarking on a lovely new chapter of my life:  Marrying Dave.  It's wonderful to be creating a life together, enriched by our combined 100 years of experience.  We've both had our "starter marriages" (okay, I've had two, but who's counting).  We've both traveled the world--often alone.  We've both been enriched on the journey of discovering what's important to us.

In other words, we come together as veterans of life, complete with scars and medals (dare I say Purple Hearts?) and the camaraderie of a rich group of friends. 

Forty of these friends will be with us in Hawaii.

Beach at A-Bay

Initially we thought our wedding would be a tiny affair--just Dave, me, and two witnesses with our toes in the sand.  We'd decided on this tact after we serendipitously discovered that at the same time we'd planned to be on the Big Island, his sister and brother-in-law would also be there.  Soon after we'd decided on north of Kona as our wedding spot, we sent out an Evite to some close friends and family  inviting them to join us if they were so inclined.  We had no expectations that more than four or five would come.  In fact, we let everyone know we'd have a one-year anniversary party in Santa Cruz next summer so we could all celebrate together.

Suddenly RSVP's were rolling in.  More people than we'd imagined were jazzed about a destination wedding.  Dave fantasized that we'd be able to stay with these friends in a beach-front locale, spend a lot of time together before and after the wedding.

So I contacted my friend Amy, who lives on the Big Island, to ask if she had some ideas.  She told me about a brand-new place being built on the very beach where I'd imagined getting married.  It wasn't open yet but would be by July.  She described it as beautiful, toes-in-the-sand, casual yet elegant.  She said Scott, the guy opening the place, was well-known on the island as an excellent restauranteur.

Lava Lava bungalow lanai
I contacted Scott who told me that the new Lava Lava Beach Club had an open-air restaurant, four bungalows, and a private party spot right on the beach.  Fast forward:  Our "non-rehearsal" dinner is taking place at the restaurant, our wedding and reception in the private party spot, and our friends have filled the bungalows. 

And how's this for another serendipity:  Dave's long-time friend Jim reconnected with a cousin who lives in Kona to tell her he'd love to see her again.  Turns out, this cousin is best friends with Scott, the Lava Lava Beach Club owner.  Now the cousin and her husband are joining us for the non-rehearsal dinner.

Jim told Dave and me that he's grateful that this wedding is reconnecting his family.  The wedding has also brought together two new couples.  One of Dave's long-time friends, and one of mine, have each invited a new amiga to Hawaii. 

And to top it off:  Two couples we'd invited had already tossed around the idea of coming to Hawaii to celebrate their joint 10-year wedding anniversaries.  So getting the Evite was like a message from the universe shouting, YES, do it!  Years ago, these couples met through each other.  The woman from one couple was the wedding officiant at the other couple's wedding.  And vice-versa, the man in the other couple officiated at the other wedding.  Each couple has a nine-year-old (one's a girl, one's a boy), who are best friends and will be throwing flower petals on everyone at our ceremony.

friends old and new

As if that's not sister threw me a GNO party (I'm too seasoned to call it a "bachelorette").  The limo-ride-wine-tasting-dinner-and-dancing bacchanalia brought together an array of my friends, creating a whole new web of interconnections.  In the aftermath, it's been fabulous to see all of them friending each other on Facebook.  The web expands!

The GNO event had quite a profound effect on my friend Daisy, which she wrote about so eloquently on her blog.  I'm flushed with gratitude as I read what she wrote.  She captured the fact that life experiences lead one to the next.

We get to choose:  Will the past drag us down, or will it enrich who we are? 



Holli said...

Oh this is fantastic.... what a beautiful wedding you'll have tomorrow... congratulations!

Collin Kelley said...

You're a married lady by now, so just wanted to send love and congratulations to you and Dave. Hope to see you in the near future. xo