For reasons beyond me, Mitzi, upon waking this morning, chose to not to watch her usual shows (Trading Spaces: Boys Vs. Girls or Avatar), but instead put in mine and Ray’s wedding video.
The thing about our video is that it’s long and unedited. We decided not to hire “wedding videographers” and instead hired a couple of my brother’s cinematography colleagues. We wanted two cameras shooting everything, to be edited later into a cool streamlined narrative of the day, hopefully by my brother who is immensely skilled at that sort of thing (it being part of his job, and all). Ten years later we still have only the raw footage (though to be fair to big brother, he has yet to edit his own wedding video from 1997). So, there’s not one, but two tapes, each over four hours long.
And the first tape rolled all morning. The kids watched all of it, to varying degrees of interest. So did I, because watching one’s wedding video is something one usually only does once a year, on the Anniversary, when reliving the Big Day is something one is more likely to think about.
It was bittersweet. Ten years has brought an awful lot of changes to our lives, mostly for the better, but there is a tinge of sadness as well, seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those no longer with us. I smiled and let tears fall when it came time for me to dance with Grandpa, while watching an animated conversation with Grandma as she offered me the wisdom of her lifetime marriage, while seeing Uncle Nick dance with my cousins and laugh with Uncle Frank. There were the faces of couples broken by divorce. Faces of friends who have drifted away.
But the sweet — oh, the sweet was delicious. The readings by my aunts at mass; the beauty of my bridesmaids, heart-close all of them. The song my cousins Checka and Maria sang, accompanied so beautifully by Maria’s husband John on his guitar. Ray’s teary face throughout the ceremony (which I assume was from joy, rather than horror at marrying me). The speech by Mark, Ray’s best friend, who is the reason we found each other. Ray serenading me at the reception. Dancing with my father. Laughing with friends. The October beauty of the day, leaves glowing in splendid fall hues in the sparkling sunshine, and, later the cloudless night glittering with stars as our guests danced and ate and drank and spilled onto the porch to soak up the weather and revel in the glory of the happiness Ray and I had found. It was even sweet to remember the way that, despite my admonitions (“I don’t care if it is the World Series!”), Ray’s cousin smuggled in a wireless TV so everyone could watch Ray’s beloved Yankees win.
Remember feeling more beautiful and perfect and right in a way I’d never felt before.
The kids were curious, exclaiming when they recognized family members, asking about people they didn’t know. Strangely, they didn’t recognize their dad. He wore his hair different then and I guess today it’s a little more gray and he looks ten years older. Or at least, that was my theory until I said, “Well, how come you know who I am?” and without a beat, Cooper said, “‘Cause you’re the one in the white dress!” (I guess even they noticed my hair is two shades darker, my body 30 pounds heavier.)
Watching the video, remembering that perfect October day ten years ago. was a fun respite from the oppressive July heat. It makes me wonder why we don’t watch that tape more often.
A wedding is just a ceremony — albeit a profound one — but it’s one day, a party, a joyous occasion. A marriage is harder, filled with not only potholes and tragedy and struggle but also with boundless joy and infinite moments of simplicity and desire and hope. It’s often too easy to forget where you came from, you and that guy holding your hand on the shabby couch, easier to be smothered by the bad stuff that every life has, no matter who you are.
The wedding video. Put it at the top of your queue, instead of the latest Netflix release. Remember why you started this journey in the first place.
No matter what day the calendar says, any day can be your anniversary.