The sky on wedding night

ElizabethRusselWED585

(Photo credit: Complete Weddings)


 

Sometime between sundown and the final song at our wedding reception I looked out of the barn doors and saw my friend Maddie staring straight up at the sky.

Maddie’s not a person whose shadow you’d mistake for another. She has a distinct way of carrying herself. Her long limbs always seem to move with purpose. Something I’ve never quite accomplished.

I looked out of the barn and through the darkness saw her neck craned upward and her gaze focused on the night sky.

There was not a soul around her.

30 feet away a crowd was dancing to loud pop music and she was undisturbed.

Maddie and I have understood each other for a long time, since we were lanky teenagers with weird senses of humor. I knew what Maddie was doing. I knew it because I do it too.

My parents’ farm has almost no light pollution. There’s nothing to break up the stars, no interruption of the glitter in the sky. It’s my favorite thing about their land. I could swim in the creek or run through the fields, pick fresh vegetables and pop them directly in my mouth or hang from a century old tree limb, but there’s nothing I’d rather do than take in that night sky.

I left the dancing. I set my drink down on a table near the door, walked over to Maddie and turned my face to the sky.

We stood together for a few moments just looking up. Maddie was enjoying what she cannot see from her home in Manhattan. I was enjoying a calm moment with a long time friend in a day otherwise full of quick hellos and hugs, sneaked bites of food and as much dancing as my legs could handle.

On a day when hurried bursts of love were coming at me from all directions, I was welcoming the chance to exchange that love gently and quietly with a friend who’s known me since I was embarrassing myself in high school theater classes.

I could write a million things about what made that day special. I could try to describe the feeling of seeing dozens of people gathered to support you as you commit to a lifetime with another person. I could describe the rush of calm I felt in my bones when Russ and I saw each other for photos before the ceremony. I could try to explain all the ways my husband, friends, sisters, brothers and parents made me feel like the most special person on Earth for a day.

But I’d rather stand in a quiet, dark field beside you looking up at the stars and not have to explain any of it.

 

 

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Like your mother taught you…

I know in this age of Facebook and Twitter and texting our normal communication inherently helps us avoid the horror of a phone call or actually using the U.S. Postal Service, but there are some things that still matter. RSVPs matter. Letting people know they either can or shouldn’t expect you to be at the party they are taking time and energy to plan is important, lest they be left with favor bags full of baked goods and tons of uneaten (and VERY delicious) food.

A lot has changed over the time I’ve been alive, but the work that goes into throwing a nice invitation-only party has not. There is preparation that goes into these things. We’re talking about a lot of hard work – food prep, favors, games (if it’s that kind of party), many different things that require knowing a number and names of guests.

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This weekend I sat with a few friends and some family around a campfire at the home of a very nice couple who know my parents better than they know me. Months ago they generously offered to throw us a wedding shower. To my left sat my freaking awesome fiance (more on that guy here), and just over his shoulder was a table covered in snacks, and white bags individually labeled for each expected guest. The bags weren’t there because we were waiting patiently to grab our own. The bags on the table were left by people who never showed and never called to say they wouldn’t. The party in question required a “regrets only” RSVP – A phone call from those who wouldn’t make it. Most (certainly not all) didn’t give that courtesy.

Yes, I was hurt by my friends not showing up or calling the hosts. I show up for a lot of people. I’m sure I screw up a lot of things in relationships, but I do show up. I make a genuine effort for those who matter to me. For years I’ve gone to bachelorette parties and kids birthday parties, more baby and bridal showers than I can count, and every wedding I could possibly make it to. Some people tell me I “should say no more often”, but I don’t, because when it comes down to it, I want people to know they matter to me. If I miss something you’ve formally invited me to, I guarantee there is a very good reason. This weekend I felt like a lot of people didn’t give us the same courtesy. It may be small in the grand scheme of life. It may seem petty. In fact, it is smaller and more petty than some unrelated tough things I’m dealing with in other realms of life right now, but it still hurt.

Yes, for me, it was embarrassing, rude and a little hurtful… but it really doesn’t matter what it meant for me.

At the end of the day, I know it doesn’t really say anything about the caliber of the friends we have. I know it says more about how busy we’ve all become. I know this issue is not exclusive to our party. I’ve attended several others that played out the same way, but this one hit home for me. I know this is about a larger societal shift, not just me and Russ and whether we’re loved (Spoiler alert: we are and we’re lucky). It’s a sign of the times. Society’s priorities are changing and maybe not in the best ways when it comes to nurturing relationships.

The truth is, Russ and I had a really great time celebrating with the friends who showed up. It was a solid group of incredibly special people — those who remind us on a regular basis that we have all of the love and support and friendship we need in this world.

If I could change anything, it wouldn’t be a change to those who showed up. I’d love to have had any combination of the invited guests there. They were all invited because they’re important to me. I had a wonderful night and left feeling, once again, like we are two of the luckiest people to be able to start this life together with so much support.

No, what I’d change is the lack of courtesy shown for those who worked hard to plan the night. I’d like to give the host and hostess a simple heads up about the bags of baked goods and party favors that wouldn’t be needed.

This isn’t about the sting I felt on Saturday. I woke up on Sunday feeling as loved as any other day of the year.  This is a bigger issue about manners. I’m not one to take people to task or call individuals out and I wouldn’t dream of doing so, because we’ve all gotten too busy at one time or another, but we can do better. We can take a tiny moment out of our sometimes hectic lives to respect the time and efforts of other people. We can show them they’re at least important enough for common courtesy.

Show up or don’t, but at the very least please just make the phone call.