Everything for the past three days had led up to this moment. I was so happy for my son. Yes, he was already married having received his marriage certificate on July 8, but this was his wedding! My chadult (as a friend of mine calls her adult children) had finally found someone to share his life.
The HoJo was only a block from the wedding site so we walked. It was faster than calling a cab. The wind was a breeze and the temperature had cooled down to make it a beautiful evening. As we approached the hotel, I looked up and saw the marquee. In the middle of this Chinese message I saw the word Nathan. I was so pleased.
We entered and Barb and I were escorted to a table where the bride’s family was seated. I greeted them as best as I could. Her mother left the table and returned with a rose for my corsage. I had left the one I had received that morning in our hotel room. I thanked her as she pinned the new one on me.
I looked at the table which was already being set with food. There were many dishes that were not recognizable, but I thought I might be bold and I would sample some of them any way. There was a significant wait for the proceedings to start. Also on the table, ala 1950s USA style, were cigarettes right there on the Lazy Susan, taken from their packs. I was wondering why I thought the air was getting hazier. That was the answer. There was also a pack in the “favor” sitting on the table by each plate.
Things were still being set up and guests were arriving. I watched with interest as the staff set up tiers of wine glasses to form a fountain with a single glass on top. I had no ideas for what reason.
The bride was to enter by walking down a spiral staircase while the spotlight shown on her. The time was set for 1818 since 8 to many Chinese is a very auspicious number relating to good fortune, wealth, prosper, etc.
All was proceeding on schedule until “CRASH!” A couple of minutes before 1818 the “host”, or emcee hired for the occasion, backed into the table with the wine glasses and they all came tumbling down. Of course the glass flew everywhere including onto the several tiered wedding cake! The staff had to take the time to clean up the glass as much as possible and rebuild the tower. I didn’t know why Julie has chosen 1818 so I didn’t check my watch to see what time she actually entered. I’m hoping maybe this all was cleaned up by 1828 but I have no clue. She was left at the top of the stairs to wait.
The Chinese consider a wedding as a time to entertain friends. There is nothing really emotion producing, or solemn, or spiritual about any of the proceedings. The “host” who, by the way, was dressed as if to maybe go to a family picnic, or run to the local grocery, was in control. One of the things he was in control of was the music, and he played it as high-volumed as he could. Granted there was not much I would understand being said. The bride was gracious enough to provide someone to translate what was going on and neither Barb or I could even hear her and she was sitting as close in between us as she could. It was really disappointing. I ended up just pretending I was deaf and I used my eyes to interpret what was happening.
There was my son in his formal tux and Julie in an exquisite gown. When Julie entered, I couldn’t see my son’s face because his back was to me. I was hoping to watch the expression in his eyes. I could still tell he was extremely happy. Because nothing was solemn, there was never a place I wanted to cry. My friend Maxine had provided me with an antique handkerchief just in case, but it remained in my purse.
There were words spoken and an “important official” examined the wedding certificates. He avowed that they were legitimate and they were legally married. Nathan had insisted that Julie wore a veil. He lifted the veil and gave her a very sweet, sincere kiss. I could not always see what was going on so I don’t remember if they exchanged rings again or not. I’ll have to wait for the wedding pictures of the actual event.
Julie’s father was asked to come front and speak about the wedding. Then I was called up. Nathan had warned me only a couple of hours beforehand. I had everything written down but I did not have time to learn it so I read what I had written. I called her my daughter-in-heart and told her of Nathan’s love of adventure. I told him that he was not as wise as he may think if he ever let her go.
They lit the Unity candle, cut the top layer (without glass) of the cake and fed one another. They both picked up a large bottle of red wine and poured the wine into the top glass which then flowed until it reached the bottom layer. Fortunately this had happened often enough that the last of the wine left enough room so the bottom row didn’t overflow, I really didn’t understand the meaning of this event and I was told that there really wasn’t any. It was just part of the package the hotel provided whether they wanted to do it or not.
While the emcee was talking with Julie and Nathan, I heard her say, “I thought he was cute.” Evidently it is very popular to play a version of “The Newlyweds” as part of the program. Since I couldn’t hear, I don’t know if Nathan was asked a question or not. The whole thing did not go over well and the emcee stopped questioning almost as soon as he began. I realized why one of the family friends had asked me a question earlier. He asked, “The host knows you are religious. (I’m not, I’m spiritual) Is there any topic that would offend you if asked?” It finally dawned on me what he was talking about.
The official part of the program was ended. The bride and groom disappeared while the guests continued to eat. I honestly cannot tell you a thing that was on the menu. I was hungry by this time and I tasted a few of the offerings. Much of it was cool by now.
Nathan and Julie reappeared. This time she had on the traditional red dress. There was no time to talk. Group pictures were taken although there was not one of me alone with the couple. I didn’t even realize that until later. They then circled the entire room and toasted with very small glasses with small groups around the entire room. Fortunately, they were drinking water. I can’t imagine being able to consume that much wine.
The members of last year’s original faculty had taken a bus from Shenyang. They took off and Nathan and Julie followed shortly to continue the celebration. I was touched that nineteen of them had come so far to support Nathan.
Barb, Becky, Robert and I went back to the hotel and had one complementary drink. Afterwards we went to bed. About twenty minutes later I have no idea why, I started sobbing. I tried to be silent but emotions were just flooding over me. I had suddenly seen my son who had, I felt, been trying to steer his boat with only one oar since he was six when his father left. I saw Julie and a new sail added. They were floating without effort down life’s stream. I was so happy. I was crying with joy. I could give up trying to help steer Nathan’s life. I was relieved. I fell into a very blissful sleep.
Namaste. Attic Annie