An overview of the wedding and the days before and after, using the notes I took at the time recording the frustrating, joyous, ridiculous time that was had by all.
Saturday 23: the arrival of the first guest! We collected my aunt V from the airport in the morning; she arrived looking amazingly fresh for someone who’d traveled cattle class for two days, and A and I were both impressed by her backpack-toting coolness. We took her straight to the holy city, where she was staying in a hostel with the most amazing view of the old city that I’ve seen. As an introductory wedding present she presented us with pineapple lumps and a bottle of wine. While exploring the old city together, V bought herself a sweet treat. A moment after biting into it she proclaimed that she’d lost a filling; it later transpired that it had just been a little rock. I’m not sure which is the better result. We also shared a za’atar-covered pita, which was moist and green and sesame-sprinkled and tasty.As the afternoon turned to evening, we found a small restaurant, ate some mezze and a slightly odd, too-sweet rose-flavoured dessert (no rocks this time). We walked V back to her hostel and left the old city. A very pleasant and successful day, including the following wonders to boot:
- The car didn’t get scratched
- The car didn’t get stolen
- None of us were pick-pocketed
- No stones were thrown in our direction
- We weren’t ripped off by local vendors (possibly because we hardly bought anything)
- We chanced upon some loud-singing Spanish pilgrims and followed them around for a while
Sunday 24: chillin’ with the Ds D&D came to us in the evening after we’d been at work, I made poached chicken breasts, served with brown rice, rocket, sprinkled raisins and pine nuts, a side of fresh green beans with balsamic vinegar, delicious olive bread and red wine in our great big glasses from A’s fabulous family (received as a birthday gift in January 2005, with only two broken so far – what an achievement!). For dessert we had delicious, height-of-the-season watermelon and cherries.We returned with D&D to the city to extend the lovely evening with a beach walk, and found, when we arrived, that the World Cup was being broadcast on the beach. We found some comfy plastic chairs, ordered mint tea, beers and a hookah pipe. D’s boyfriend D was impressed by the colour and texture of the sand, and wanted to know if it was real. I experienced a too-rare moment of national pride at that.
Wednesday 28 June: the proud parents Dad & C arrived early this morning and made their own way to their hotel; the poor dears weren’t allowed into their room given the earliness of the hour, but seemed chipper enough when we collected them, and not particularly stinky from the endless flight. We had coffee in Neve Tzedek near the Suzanne Dellal centre, then continued to Old Jaffa to have a picturesque wander. Leaving
Jaffa we picked up V at the clock tower; she was in a bit of a state having had terribly difficulties contacting us by cellphone that morning, and being after a trip to the north on which her camera was stolen, to boot. We all went to a café by Park Meir – the one with the turtle-pond and the dog park, but A and I had to leave too soon, to collect mother L from the airport. She gave A a big pounamu pendant and presented some Endangered Species chocolate (to share, not to keep); we took her home with us.In the late afternoon, A’s parents and aunt D dropped off A’s older brother, R. When they left I had a bath and prepared for the mikveh. Then we all – A, R, L and myself – went round the corner to a restaurant where they all had liver and mashed potatoes, and I had soda water. Can’t get anything stuck in the teeth or the good cleansing ritual won’t be valid.Had a nice early evening walk through the neighbourhood to the mikveh where I was greeted by a very sweet woman who gave me general directions, and exclaimed at length about how much she loves us brides and wishes us health and babies and many good things. I dipped successfully the requisite three times, dressed, and left. I walked to the shopping centre to meet up with A, R and L for a frustrating hour, then I went home with her while A took R to their cousin, where he was staying.
Thursday 29 June – one more sleep to go! In the morning we took L to the delightful family – where she would be staying for the short duration of her visit; Mrs O let me steal some of her rampant mint and gave me a jar of homemade Chinese orange jam. We went to the wedding venue to drop off all the booze I’d bought at duty free over the six months prior – martini, vodka, jägermeister, cointreau, apple and lychee liqueurs, whiskey; basically all the things that my favourite cocktails are made of.Next we took the car to get cleaned so we wouldn’t look like slobs driving to the wedding the next day. We sat under some shade which provided little respite from the extreme heat and watched the worker scrub away at the car … until something broke. In his enthusiasm, the guy cleaning the inside of the windscreen had snapped off the rear-view mirror. Quiet madness soon ensued. First two of the workers tried to glue the mirror back, using no skill, even less success, and a disproportionate amount of time. Then the man in charge drove off on a mission to find a replacement, with a similar amount of success and even greater expenditure of time. Various solutions to the dilemma were presented, none of them reasonable, few even feasible. I caused a small temper tantrum by butting in with an obnoxious comment at one point, when the owner explained to my poor beleaguered beloved A that this whole situation was just ‘business’. I found this comment so absurd that I offered the following gem of wisdom in my nastiest tone: “This isn’t ‘business’, this is ‘ridiculous’”. I didn’t think it was such a harsh criticism, but it set this particular imbecile off something chronic, and A threw me a look of furious desperation. Quite justified, but painful nonetheless. He managed so soothe the raging fool with the diplomacy and composure that I’m rarely able to muster.After a few hours of farcical antics that got us no closer to having a rear-view mirror, the incompetent owner handed over some money and sent us off on our merry way. ‘Merry’ not really even beginning to describe the frustration, disappointment, wonder, and amazement. Wonder at the fact that this could all happen a matter of hours before we were to get married, and amazement that with all the stress of months of organising the magical day, such an idiotic mistake by a single dumbass could still throw us off-course.After coming to terms with driving without a rear-view mirror, we met up with dad, C and aunt V. I tried not to break down and cry all over them and almost succeeded, then we all piled into the car to head back to the unholy city.Back home, I escorted C to the hairdresser, and had my own hair put in rollers. The final product was totally ridiculous, huge rolls of hair all over the place. At one point when he finished putting rolls in the back and started and the sides, I asked him how I was supposed to sleep. He smiled the smile of a man who has no reason to trouble himself with such pettiness, and continued crowding my head with the rigid, prickly instruments of my own personal nightmare.I took the rear exit from the salon in order to avoid the stares of the taxi drivers I would have had to pass taking the normal route, and collected aunt V from home. She, C and I all went to my cosmetician. The phrase ‘walk of shame’ took on a whole new meaning for me, although no-one took too much notice of me and my wacky ‘do.Later in the evening after dad, C and V had left, a sweet young woman came to give me what remains my first and last manicure and pedicure. I sat there with a belly so bloated and crampy that I started freaking out that I’d look pregnant in my wedding dress and not only totally misrepresent our situation, but also ruin all the photos.When we finally got to bed I couldn’t get comfortable, the rollers were everywhere and the only way not to have them digging into my scalp or the sides of my face was to rest my forehead on a carefully placed forearm. Needless to say this numbed my arm and the balancing act was impossible to maintain. I tried lying on my back and thinking of it as a kind of all-over scalpel acupuncture, but matter overcame mind and I couldn’t maintain that position either.
Friday 30 June: the wondrous day In the end I managed to sleep for a few minutes at a time throughout the night, and eventually woke fully at 5:30am. I tidied up around the house and hung around until it was time for my 7:30am appointment with the hairdresser. At 9:00am I returned to the house, where the makeup lady was already waiting for me. Both the photographs arrived and wandered around taking pictures. At 10:00am we went downstairs and met A’s brothers, who had been dropped off by their cousin E. We drove together in the rear-view mirror-less but nicely decorated car to the venue – a trip of about an hour.Upon arrival we managed to get a couple of vaguely posed photographs taken, before the guests began to descend. We wandered among them and tried to look relaxed as the tension mounted. About an hour later, when Dad and C still hadn’t arrived with D&D, I started to worry and went to find their phone number, but as I did so they walked through the door, looking harried and not wanting to discuss it. Maybe I shouldn’t have trusted a bold Italian driving for the first time in this country to get them to me unscathed, but it all turned out well in the end.They weren’t the latest guests, however; the rabbi was even later. Having scheduled the ceremony – the only part for which the rabbi was required – for 12:15pm, he rocked up at about 1:00pm, at which point there were still administrative bits and bobs to deal with, so the ceremony ended up being terribly – and, unfortunately, typically (for this country) – late.As the preparations came to a head, I went to the bathroom to fix on my veil, and found the wonderful Mrs O there, who calmed me a bit and assured me that the veil was on straight. We sat with the rabbi and our respective parents while the rabbi explained to us the contract into which we were entering, and A signed the contract. Most of the pictures from those moments show me positively grey with nerves, I will ever be thankful that I didn’t have to speak more than a few words and wasn’t required to sign; my name would surely have turned into a smudged illegible mess under my shaking hand. I’d been fasting all morning too, which can’t have helped. A few glasses of water and a couple of weak lemony cocktails weren’t helping my stability to any noticeable degree.So after introducing the witnesses, and signing the contract, and agreeing that we were ready do this, we were ready. A walked first with his parents through the restaurant, outside, and down a few steps to the wedding canopy. Or, to where the wedding canopy would have been, if anyone had remembered to set it up. A few awkward moments later, the four pole-holders were in place and the canopy was billowing in the warm wind, under the blazing sun.I walked with my parents to join A under the canopy, gently reminded mother L that I needed to be at the front, not her, and the ceremony began. I hardly heard a word of it; I don’t know quite where I was but despite being determined to be there, to be present, I was having a hard time. After a few minutes I realised the rabbi wasn’t going to stop talking any time soon, and I started looking around at everyone gathered there. Under the veil I felt hidden enough that I didn’t feel like I was the object of everyone’s attention, like I was in my own little world but I could invite people in by catching their eye and giving them a smile. Eventually the ceremony came to its close with the drinking of wine and me receiving a ring. A and I retired to a private room to spend the only minutes alone together that we would have. Our wonderful friend T had filled a plate with snacks and left it in the room; it would be the only food we ate until the end of the day.Late in the afternoon, I managed to sit down for a few minutes with some of my older friends who I’ve recently abandoned but who appear to have forgiven me. I managed to scoff two divine mousse-like frozen desserts.When most of the guests had left, and only A’s school friends remained, we all sat around a table while the restaurant staff stacked and stored all the other chairs and tables. When finally we were ready to go, A’s friends loaded the car with our gifts and left-overs, and we all left. A’s brothers returned home with us. At home, A and I got our first taste of the wedding food, I started opening gifts, and the brothers watched the quarter-final of the World Cup. After the game, the brothers returned to cousin E’s place for the evening, and A and I went to bed around midnight as a married couple.
Saturday 1 July: the morning after We woke early-ish, and went to the hotel dad and C were staying at, aunt V also arrived and we all went for breakfast at a place where the specialty is chocolate dishes. Even the muesli was sprinkled with shards of the stuff. After returning them to their hotel we met up with A’s friends and went to a place on the promenade and watched them eat breakfast and check out the girls. A’s friend E went to the beach, and J came home with us. There, we waded through his many lovely pictures of the adventures he undertook on his way to us. Later in the afternoon, A’s two brothers and three other friends came over. I heated up the wonderful left-overs, we opened some wine – also left-over – and watched some World Cup football. In the evening we all went to a sprawling waterfront bar, and met up with extra friends, some of whom were leaving the next day.
Sunday 2 July: exodus Dad and C and D&D all left today – too soon! I can’t remember what we did on Sunday. I think that my mother spent the better (or worse?) part of the day with A’s parents.
Monday 3 July: within one’s means Caught a bus in to work to collect a car; as a gift for getting married, I get not only a couple of generous vouchers for use at my choice of spa and restaurant, I am also entitled to the use of a company car for five whole days. A crummy car from the fleet, loaded with someone else’s rubbish, but who cares?! Drove to the house of the artist and his English professor wife, where L was visiting, having arrived from afar for the big event. Drove them to a nice old area where L thought that a garden would be open. She’d visited previously and it had been closed, had neglected to note the opening hours, and as a result lead us up a gentle, long, sloping hill in the not so gentle mid-summer heat, only to discover that it was, indeed, closed.We returned the way we had come, stopping a gallery we’d noticed on the way up, where she ended up with her heart set on a $300 picture – not a painting, I don’t think, but a print. However, in the face of $300 we encountered a problem: she didn’t have $300. Of course that wasn’t the end of it; we now had to drive to an ATM to get the money she was lacking. Given that I was visiting on a fairly tight schedule and needed an hour to get home, I started feeling a pinch of impatience but what was I to do? So off we trundle to the ATM machine – a good 15 minute drive away. She and the artist went to the machine and upon their return, I could see by her face and tell by her “we worked it out” reply to my “did you manage?” question that she had not succeeded in withdrawing money.To my mind, the whole episode rather begs the question: lady, if you don’t have $300, why would you buy a $300 picture?Call me crazy, say I have an overdeveloped sense of social embarrassment, tell me I’m over-reacting, but as soon as she went to the bathroom and left me alone with the artist and the professor, I made them accept from me the money that she had taken from them. A few days later she said to me that it hadn’t been necessary, they’d worked something out, they had an agreement, the next ATM worked, etcetera, etcetera, but by then I’d done what I had to do in order to make myself feel comfortable, and the excuses/explanations were meaningless to me.Anyway, the silver lining of the day was that A, his friend J and my uncle J all went out to dinner at a restaurant that we love that has a nice internal courtyard. It was crazy hot and humid but lots of fun and my uncle had all sorts of stories, the like of which I never heard when I lived at home. Yet another benefit to being far from home, I guess; the old, learned, family behaviours don’t really apply anymore.
I wore my wedding shoes, as a celebration of the fact that I resisted public opinion and didn’t buy the typical one-time white-washed wedding-style shoes. Long live green suede, I say.
Tuesday 4 July: the pain, oh, the pain Accompanied mother to a crafts fair which is held a few times throughout the week. First drove around for about half an hour looking for parking and upsetting her, then went to framer to get a whole lot of stuff framed, and made her wait for me. The long and short of the process of me upsetting her was that she told me that I was so hostile and insulting that she wouldn’t be coming back to visit, that she’d rather send me the money she would otherwise spend on coming all this way. Which I found amusing for the following reasons:
- Now that I’m in post-wedding mode I’m relaxed enough to find the humour in anything
- This is the only time that she has visited in four and a half years – and she stayed for less than a week
- I can’t remember the last time she gave me money, but I distinctly remember my first year in the country when I begged her for money, and she declined to assist
- Melodrama always gives me a laugh
- A’s mother also thinks that he’s mean to her, and he’s an angel compared to me (I keep promising A that I’ll explain to her that all children are unpleasant to their mothers and that she mustn’t think that she’s special in that regard, and that we actually both appreciate and adore her, but he does it a bit discreetly sometimes)
After the craft market I dropped her off at the train station, as she was invited somewhere else for a meal.
the aftermath A’s big brother R stayed with us for most of the following week, which was great. He even cooked us a fabulous fish meal.