Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Wedding Trip

[Sunday Scribblings prompts us this week with "Somewhere..." And since my mind has been on stories of my life, I thought of a time my parents took us to Massachusetts.]

Cousin Jonathan Gets Married

My cousin Jonathan was getting married. My dad had only one brother, and my uncle had three sons. The cousins were from New York, from Brooklyn, and they were significantly older than I was, closer to the ages of my older sister and brother. I know they had visited us in the Midwest, but I mostly recalled the trips from pictures, not from my own memories. And I know we had visited them in New York, but all I remember are vague memories of a hotel room and a day-trip to a distant relative's house (also in Brooklyn).

I had been to weddings before, usually pretty close to home. We'd dress up and were reminded to mind our manners. We'd go to a church and most of the time the reception was in the church fellowship hall, decorated for the occasion. Once we left the party, we'd be home in less than 10 minutes.

But I didn't remember ever having traveled to go to a wedding before. Jonathan and Jean were getting married in Massachusetts. We had been to Massachusetts before, driving two days to get to Cape Cod for vacation. But by the time of this wedding, we had stopped going there for vacation. I think I was about 9 years old.

We flew to Boston and rented a car. I remember following along on a road map as we headed west to the center of the state. I thought the arrangement of towns was funny. Northampton was north of Southampton, and Westhampton largely west of Easthampton, but Easthampton was kind of in the middle (north to south) between Northampton and Southampton. I thought if some place were going to be in the middle of all that it should be just plan "Hampton." It made me think the people who named the places weren't very original.

I don't remember which town we stayed in, but I know we spent two or three nights in a motel, along with a lot of other people with our last name. My dad was a doctor and so were several of the other guests. And some fool phoned the motel and asked to speak to Dr. Lastname and didn't even know the first name of his doctor. Since I heard about it they must have called all the rooms to try to track down someone who knew the patient!

My aunt, mother of the groom, was a bit on edge, wanting everything to be perfect and being in control of very little. I had learned a song in Girl Scouts that had words that sounded like a native-American chant, and it had hand movements that went with it. While my younger brother and I were trying to keep ourselves amused (and knowing we'd get in trouble for playing in the parking lot) we started doing this chant and hand-movement thing. When my aunt asked what we were doing, my mom teased her by saying it was a kind of rain dance. My aunt had a fit! We were banned from singing that song until after the wedding.

As for the wedding itself, I remember very little. I had never been to a wedding with that many people at it. We were quite a ways back and I really couldn't see over people's heads. I don't know what my younger brother did to entertain himself – he must have been about 7. He might have been entertained by the yarmulkes that they had given out – he got to wear one just like the grown-up men.

At the reception, I remember my cousin Michael's wife teaching us to do the Bunny Hop. I remember dancing (the box step) with my dad, and probably with some other relatives. And I remember someone asking me how old I was. When I told them 9, they told me I was 9 going on 30. I remember asking my mom what that meant, though I don't remember what she answered.

I don't remember much else about that trip.

As it turned out, that marriage didn't last. And cousin Michael's didn't either. But I still remember how to do the Bunny Hop, in case you need to invite someone to your wedding.


linda may said...

Nice story, and a peek for me into someone else's culture.You have a good memory to have this from when you were 9.

sister AE said...

thanks, linda may.

Linda Jacobs said...

I think we all have those wedding memories. I got a kick out of reading yours.

Very well-written!

susan said...

The older I get the more I reminisce and think more about family. Thanks for the read.

anthonynorth said...

A lovely read. I remember several weddings from my own youth. And some strange memories from them, too.

gautami tripathy said...

It felt as if I was there!

trying to find a meaning

sister AE said...

Hi, Linda. Weddings are such a special event, bigger than real life, that they do tend to stand out.

Hello, Susan. Glad you liked it.

Thanks, Anthony.

Hi, Gautami. I was happy to have you along!

Carmi said...

I love this vignette. You've awoken a similar memory in me...also of traveling a significant distance to attend a family wedding.

The marriage faltered, too. Funny what we remember, and how vividly. Thanks for this!

sister AE said...

Hi, Carmi. Thank you.

Maria said...

I can still do the bunny hop too!

sister AE said...

Hi, Maria. Excellent!