I am home, I am exhausted, but I am HAPPY.
The wedding was, well, everything I thought it would be and nothing I thought it would be.
We arrived on Thursday to San Francisco, three kids in tow. The idea was to have a short family vacation together while simultaneously tying up loose ends that needed to be done in SF. Things got off to a bit of a rough start. But would it be our wedding if we didn't have to WORK for what we wanted??? This is my life's theme!!!
First of all, we arrived to the airport at 6 am with three tired kids, and tried to check in under Mr. Wonderful's name, which didn't work. When we got up to a ticket agent, they informed us that American Airlines had screwed up and while they had *reserved* his ticket, they didn't actually *ticket* him. (Reminds me of the old Seinfeld episode - "so you know how to *TAKE* the reservation, you just don't know how to *HOLD* the reservation") After 30 minutes of the agent being on the phone with whoever, they sent the kids and I on through security, with the hopes that he would have a ticket by the time the plane left, but really more likely we'd be meeting up with him later in San Fran. Not a great plan considering we had an appointment to get our marriage license at SF City Hall at 1pm.
So I get through the security line and the TSA agent checking passports decides that the picture on my passport, the passport I have used 15+ times since I got it years ago, doesn't look real and makes me step aside with the kids while she calls her supervisor. They test it, they lecture me on the picture, and finally let me and the kids through. Have you ever been through airport security with three little kids? Alone? Everyone take your shoes off, put your Kindles, nanos, phones, laptops into the bin, your carryons on the belt, your jackets off, and don't lose your ticket and passports in the meantime. Walk through and then put it all back together and on again. "MOMMY I CAN'T GET MY SHOES ON! MOMMY WHERE IS MY JACKET! MOMMY I LOST MY PASSPORT!" I was so stressed about getting them all through that I barely noticed when the same TSA supervisor is standing in front of me asking if "this is your bag". Oh, yes, it is my bag. The one I stuffed with everything important to the wedding so if they lost our large bags we'd be ok- the gifts for the kids, the sand ceremony, the wedding rings. He pulls me over to the x-ray screen and the first thing I see when I look up-a pocketknife. The engraved pocketknife we chose to give our son for the wedding, with his name and the date, wrapped in a box with a bow. The one I told my mom a hundred times to PLEASE not forget to put in her suitcase on the way back so it wasn't taken away. I saw it on the screen and I realized that a) I was probably in big trouble and b) that pocketknife was not going to make it to the wedding, and that was huge part of the ceremony.
Let me tell you a little something about me. I am not one of those graceful people who handles stress well. And when you add in that an entire airport of people are looking at me and Mr. W is not there to bring me down to earth and my anxiety over him not making it is through the roof, well, it wasn't pretty. I freaked out, began to cry, began to hypervenilate. My poor 12 year old son had to try and calm me down. I was trying to explain to the TSA agent "My fiance...they didn't have a ticket....that's a wedding gift...for my son...for OUR wedding...now it can't...getting married this weekend...." A. Mess.
He had mercy on me, attempted to calm me down. Asked my son to watch the other two kids on the other side of security with their bags, while I went back to baggage check-in and could just pay to check the bag.
I am escorted by the agent back through security to the ticket line, where I see that Mr. Wonderful is STILL waiting on a ticket, with less than 30 minutes to take-off. I wait in line, get up to the counter, *try* to tearfully explain to the ticketing agent as well as Mr. W at the same time why I need to check my bag. The agent shakes his head at me, says it's too close to take-off and for security purposes, they can't check my bag. I am beyond flustered, so Mr. W steps over and explains to the agent who has now called over HIS supervisor, the situation...what the pocketknife is for and why we need it to get to SF. To which we are met with something like "9-11 was 10 years ago this weekend and we really don't care".
So I have no choice but to race over to the AirMail station, stuff the gift tearfully into a bag, fill out the form (wrong, I later found out), and send it home.
Oh and did I mention, that as I am pulling the gift out of the carry-on, I see that one of the bags of sand for our sand ceremony has busted, and there is pink sand ALL. THROUGH. THE. SUITCASE.
I race back through security, shoes off, jacket off, laptop out, cel phone out. I look behind me and there is Mr. W doing the same. He catches up to me just as I'm putting my shoes back on and says "They're holding the plane door for us but we have to HURRY". I see the kids still sitting together on the other side of security. We may actually pull this off.
And then, like a bad deja vu dream, a TSA agent is AGAIN standing in front of me, asking if this is my bag. GOD WHAT NOW.
"Ma'am, there is some sort of substance all through your bag. We're gonna need to test it for explosives." I show her the vase, the bags of sand, explain to her it's SAND for a SAND ceremony and those are my three kids right there waiting for me and I'm getting married and WE CANNOT MISS THIS PLANE because WE HAVE A MARRIAGE LICENSE TO GET. She cares not, mentions 9-11 again. And I am forced to sit and wait while they perform the test.
By the time the testing is done, it is our scheduled departure time. We grab the kids. Run to the plane. Scramble for our boarding passes. Lectured by the agents at the gate. Greeted coldly by the flight attendants at the plane. Stared at furiously by the passengers as we make our way to our seats, which have been occupied be people who thought they had lucked out and could spread out. Even more pissed that they are being occupied by children.
Fuck 'em all, we made the flight, albeit without a gift for our child, and are on our way to San Francisco. No turning back now.
When we got there, we took the train from the airport and walked from the BART station to our hotel, which was all uphill. 3 kids + 2 huge suitcases + 3 carryons. Up SF hills. What a freaking joke.
We also made a day 1 mistake of walking the kids to City Hall, which was just a 15 minute walk from our hotel. Through TENDERLOIN. (beginners mistake). Luckily it was the middle of the day. We literally stepped over crackheads who were sprawled out in the middle of the sidewalk. At first I just thought "Oh, San Francisco, ha ha" and then the neighborhood got rougher, and rougher, and I became VERY aware of my designer bag and diamond ring and my kids who were dressed up more than usual for the trip in boots and hats and cute jackets. Aside from the sprawled out crackheads we passed people smoking marijuana, drug deals, lunatics ranting at random people, and human feces on the ground. At one point I heard a woman say, as she walked us walk by, "You guys are in the wrooong neighborhood". My daughter still asks me why I said to Mr. W "OH THANK GOD, NECKTIES" when we reached the City Hall area.
My mom and her husband met us there, where we scarfed lunch and had the first big moment of our trip...filling out the forms, taking our oath, seeing my new last name officially in print.
The next couple of days are a blur of "MOMMY WHEN ARE WE GONNA....WHERE ARE WE GONNA...WHY ARE WE GONNA....BUY ME ____! BUY ME ___!" The kids did have a great time, but three kids in the city using public transportation? Not exactly relaxing. But they loved the cable cars, loved Ghiradelli, loved Fisherman's Wharf and the sea lions, loved Sausalito and the Golden Gate bridge. We ate good food overlooking the bay, hunted for crabs under rocks, got them a primo seat on the Powell-Hyde cable car where they could hang on to the side standing up. There was actually minimal complaining, and the most priceless moment was when we stepped onto the pier in Fisherman's Wharf and my son saw Alcatraz for the first time, and exclaimed "I can't believe I'm really here!!"
Friday was a quick rehearsal and the first time I met my wedding planner and saw the wedding venue. The kids were restless and out of control through the rehearsal and I warned them "Guys, you are not going to be able to act like this during the ceremony. You will have to be still and quiet, like you're in church" to which my middle child exclaimed, in front of the minister, "MOM, that's why we don't GO to church!"
Friday night we gathered the entire family together, who had all come to town for the wedding, and had an amazing dinner at one of mine and Mr. W's favorite San Fran restaurants, Cha Cha Cha's. The sangria and tapas were aplenty. My sister-in-law presented me with a gift that she had coordinated with all of my friends, whom I was missing terribly and very sad they couldn't be there for my big day. It was an amazing night, happy tears were shed. I had been so distracted by the family vacation that it was easy to forget why we were there, and dinner was a great reminder.
The next morning I woke up early with the girls, my mom, and my future mother in law. I kissed Mr. Wonderful goodbye as my fiance for the last time. He was off to tour Alcatraz with the men and our son, the girls and I headed out to get our nails done near the wedding location.
After nails, the grandmothers took the girls into town for lunch, and I headed to the spa. I dropped them off in town and was alone in the cab, for the first time on the trip. The emotions hit me, hard, as I realized that NOW was the moment I had been waiting for for the past year. The planning and details and rehearsing and worrying was over now, it's all about us from here out.
I went into the spa with knots in my neck and back, stress knots I get from time to time. They were worse than they had been in years. My masseuse was amazing, magical, and by the time she finished I felt light as a feather. My facial was equally as perfect. I lunched alone in the spa, quietly reflecting on my life and how I got here.
I walked back to the room (located in the same place as the spa, and the location of the wedding ceremony and dinner). I took it all in, feeling relaxed and happy and ready. I found myself annoyed at the time it was taking me to get myself ready. I rushed through the details I thought would be so important...my hair, my makeup...I had searched for the perfect fake eyelashes to wear for the wedding, and didn't have the patience to get them on and decided not to mess with them. I just wanted to get married.
Family members, including the girls and my mom, slowly began arriving. The photographer was taking my picture. I began to feel the stress and no matter what I did, it would not subside. I got a phone call from Mr. W, who was ready and waiting at the ceremony site, saying that there was a problem and the hotel had booked a reception right next door to our wedding, and there would be people on the balcony with us while we got married. He was trying to handle it but I was furious. The weather had become cold and windy, and the venue was trying to talk us into moving indoors. It felt like it was all falling apart.
The photographer had the men walk over to the hotel room for our first photos. I was ready and was trying to let everything roll off my back. She arranged a "first look" photo, where he waited for me and I "snuck up" behind him for my big wedding dress reveal. I felt the tears but didn't let the emotion come yet. It was a nice moment, and we were both relieved to be with each other again. Through all stress and trials, we are each other's rocks, and everything felt ok again.
Photos went on and on, with family and then just us and the kids, Mr. W was getting more stressed about the time. We sent everyone on to the ceremony site to be seated, and we walked back with the photographer. I could see the other party going on upstairs, albeit indoors now and not on our balcony where we were getting married, and I was truthfully very annoyed.
We walked upstairs together, where the members of the other party were all standing, all staring at me. I glared at them. I admit it. They were ruining my moment. Luckily before I could get nasty, I was swept away by the wedding planner and ushered into a kitchen, where I would be sequestered until the ceremony began.
I was joined there by my sister in law. We fixed my hair, made sure my makeup was ok. I was trying to push myself from annoyed to happy. Instead, I was beginning to feel numb. My sister-in-law was trying her best to help me get back to happy, telling me to look around, take it all in. I tried, I really did. I was totally and completely numb. I was standing in a kitchen, someone had just handed me a glass of wine, and my wedding planner was asking me if I was ready. She left to begin the music and I was alone. "FEEL SOMETHING!" I urged myself. Maybe if I chug the wine.
She came back, pulled me to the door where I would make my entrance, I could see my youngest out through the window, dropping her petals on the ground with a shy smile. "Cute", I thought. But it was like watching tv. I still felt nothing. The wedding planner tells me she's going out to cue my music, and that as soon as I'm ready, to open the door and come out, and she will start it. I stand there, for I don't know how long, it must have been long because later Mr. W told me he was starting to worry that I had taken off.
And then, I put my hand on the door, and opened it up, still urging myself to FEEL, stepped onto the porch, and it was as if I had walked into another world.
(Part 2 coming soon!)