Needless to say, it was a happy reunion, and it was wonderful to see my loved ones again. Katrabbit and I arrived late Thursday night and drove from the airport in St. Louis to her house in Murphysboro accompanied by a cousin of mine, with whom I hadn't spoken in several years. She was delightful to get reacquainted with, and we swapped memories and life stories on the drive. The next day, I headed over to my parents' house to embrace them all and find out what was needed for the wedding preparations. In the process, I managed to secure a birthday cake for myself from my dad (who had a little trouble with the recipe instructions, probably because I was standing nearby "helping" the whole time).
That evening, I met some of Katrabbit's relatives who happened to be in town at the time, and after introducing myself all around I headed to the bachelor party for my soon-to-be-brother-in-law (most hyphens ever!), and enjoyed an evening of eating and drinking. Katrabbit dropped by my sister's bachelorette party, as did I, to greet a number of my female friends.
The next morning was the wedding rehearsal, and as an official officiant (being officially ordained as a minister in the Universal Life Church just a few weeks earlier) I needed to learn my part. It was an elaborate ceremony, structured around a Wiccan handfasting, and I and the groom's elder sister were doing the speechifying. Ultimately, I did relatively little, allowing the groom's sister to take charge of breaking up the spoken parts and lay out what each one of us would do. When the rehearsal was over, my main concern was making sure I didn't screw up the hand-binding, since the cord had to be draped over their hands in a very specific fashion. As it turned out, this was not the only thing I should have been worried about.
I went home and showered, got dressed and went back to the Fellowship to help set up the tables in preparation for the reception after the event. Katrabbit went to her parents' place for help baking the loaves of bread that they were contributing to the post-wedding festivities. Once the tables were arranged (painstakingly), the kitchen prepared, the directional altars set up, and the huge coolers full of high-quality beer safely stowed, I went to pick up Katrabbit and the bread. When I got back, the guests were arriving and I went to take my place in the wedding party.
The ceremony kicked off with the introductory music and we made our way down the aisle, to the front of the sanctuary. I started to read my part, switching off with my partner in crime, only to realize that the jug of water and bowl of bread on the main altar, which were important fixtures of the ritual, had not been filled. My mind was blank--it was all I could do to not burst out laughing, especially when I heard the groom chuckling--but fortunately the groom's sister grabbed the jug and bowl while I was reading and handed them off to someone near the stage to fill in the kitchen and return to us. By the time we got to the part of the ceremony where they were required, they were properly established. Whew.
I read the small bit that I had written myself, along with an untitled poem by Tanith Lee. I found that particular poem highly apropos--after spending hours searching through online databases of poetry which yielded many fascinating pieces but almost none appropriate for the event--since the name the couple would both be taking after the marriage is Rose. It will be odd to think of my own sister, whose name I have always shared, as a Rose now. I suppose their children will all be little Roses as well. Hmm.
Anyway, I read my bit, and I'm proud to say I managed to not break down crying. I came close, but I held it together.
So the ceremony was finished, I managed to screw up the hand-binding as I had feared but nobody seemed to care (so far as I could tell), and the newly married couple was celebrated late into the night. I played my part in those festivities as well; I borrowed a friend's twelve-string guitar and performed the song that my sister had requested I contribute: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
Hey, don't ask me. I just do what I'm told.
Eventually, Katrabbit and I returned to her place, exhausted, and got up late the next morning, with the plan that we would join my family for a birthday dinner. However, my parents' household was overrun with leftover food from the reception, so we opted to let them work on the leftovers for a while and instead joined Katrabbit's family for a trip to visit her grandmother in Golconda, Illinois. It was a fun trip and I got to meet even more of her family, including not just her grandmother (who was a hoot) but also several of her aunts, uncles and cousins. One, a boy not more than eleven, informed that if I was to join their family, I would need to learn sports.
No one told me this before I made my choice. I consider this a dirty trick.
After we got back from Golconda, we met up with several of our friends at Katrabbits house, and for the third night in a row I partied until the wee hours of the morning. It was an intense evening, fraught with many emotions and a good deal of closeness, which I hardly realized I had been missing so powerfully until I tasted it again. There was little sleep that night, but much love was shared.
Eventually Katrabbit and I dragged ourselves out of bed to meet up with my family for that birthday lunch, which ended up being a rather small affair since the new bride and groom were enjoying their alone time and my brother was busy with school. After a quick meal, an exchange of gifts and a bit of my father's questionable cake (which turned out to be quite tasty, despite it all), Katrabbit and I hurried to finish our packing so we could make it to our flight on time. Thankfully, we had left ourselves sufficient leeway in terms of travel time, so we got to the airport without too much distress.
The flight back was thoroughly unpleasant, as we were both sleep-deprived and had taken seats in front of a woman and her two children, who continually shrieked, complained, and kicked our seats until they departed in Salt Lake City. Rarely have two travelers been so thankful to see the Oakland airport. We made our weary way home to our apartment and crumbled into bed.
Since then, little of note has occurred; I've heard tell that the happy couple has continued on largely as before, slightly richer from wedding presents and glad that the event is finally behind them. My mother is now bothering me for plans for my own wedding, which is requiring some thought. Thankfully, we have a year to prepare before we try to pull it off, so hopefully we'll get it all put together in time.
Katrabbit has taken up working part-time at the cafe run by our landlady downstairs in our apartment building, and has shown all the qualities of an excellent manager. I've continued enjoying my laziness, reaping the benefits of government-funded unemployment. I'm still looking for part-time work, but that is proving to be harder than I would have expected; apparently the call for part-time workers is (understandably) less than that for full-time, so I'm not getting the responses I would have hoped my resume would have provoked. Ah, well, either way we survive, so I'm not going to stress about it just yet.
The holiday season fast approaches us; Halloween is nearly upon us, and swift after that comes Thanksgiving and Christmas (for those inclined towards such holidays). Come Christmastime I'll be returning to Carbondale once again, which I look forward to ardently.
In the meantime, I'll continue to work on growing as a burgeoning therapist, feeling out my role at the Pacific Center and seeking to apply some of the principles I'm learning in class. I've been developing greater confidence in myself along those lines lately; we'll see how that confidence bears up when I've been doing this for more than a few months and actually have some real experience under my belt.
Hope your Halloween is a pleasantly haunted one, dear readers, and that your holiday season is filled with joy. I'll be sure to keep you informed if things decide to happen.
(Note: I wish I had pictures of the wedding to share here, but I foolishly left my camera at home--I'm not actually very good at this whole "recording events" thing, it appears. Well, perhaps they'll start a website of their own with images I can link you to. If not, take my word for it: it was beautiful.)