I traveled west for a wedding this weekend. (Legs got married in what was perhaps the loveliest, most fun wedding I have ever had the privilege of attending, but I’ll get to that in a minute).
JFK –> SFO is a very familiar trip for me. For more than half a year, I made this same trip for a client project between 2009-2010; sometimes every week each month. 6am flights from JFK; red-eyes from SFO. Sometimes I would fly to SFO and drive to Carmel; sometimes I would fly to SFO to Monterey; sometimes I would be driven.
I had started making these trips two days after my husband and I filed our separation papers. I went to the UPS Store on Rhode Island Avenue, NW, blocks from St. Matthews Cathedral, where Kennedy’s funeral was held and where Andrew and I had started on our road to Cana, and I sent the papers, signed in my husband’s family name, back to New York. Outside the store, the irrevocable act accomplished, I slumped against a post and sobbed for a moment before I went back to the office, and got on a call to Hong Kong. Two days later, found myself on a flight to San Jose, sitting two rows behind my boss and his wife, who wanted to make a weekend out of the trip.
The client became a part of the fabric of my life-after-marriage, and although I left my law firm job, I have stayed in close touch with the people who worked on that deal. In fact, the Carmel/Monterey area started to feel like “home” to me. (Case in point, dinner with my friend Birdie on Friday night when she called me for directions to the restaurant at which we were meeting, and after I gave them to her, I snapped out of it, and said incredulously, “Wait a hot minute. Why am I giving you directions? You live here.”)
When last week had reached the boiling point — the point at which I thought I had been given more than I could take — I got a ping that another one of my dear friends was in from Asia and we set up a meeting for tea at SFO. I happened to be landing as he was checking in for his flight. The circumstances that brought me out to San Francisco over the years had sometimes been strange, but the friends that I had made on my many trips — this particular friend included — were reasonable people; kind people; moral people. And sometimes, in a crisis, just a few stolen moments with that sort of person can do wonders for the soul.
This place — the verdant stretch from San Francisco to Big Sur, but Carmel in particular — has, over the last two years, become the place I come to when things fall apart; when New York fails me; when I have no where else to go but up. It is the place from which I drove out to climb Half Dome. It is where I trained for the 2009 ING NYC Marathon; it is where they plied me with eggs and breads and kept me from relapsing into destructive eating habits during the early days of my divorce.
So when I got the invitation to Legs’ wedding, and discovered the event was in this precious place, I was of course going to go — both because I couldn’t imagine not being there to see her marry a wonderful man; but also because the place in which she had chosen to marry was so special to me as well.
The wedding was perfect. Legs is the kind of friend who is also there in my moments of need. She was my college roommate — we spent our senior year in college drinking beer; eating terrible food; watching the Golden Girls; sobbing as we waited for law school acceptances; and getting ourselves into all kinds of innocuous trouble (i.e., how we decided, the day after the LSAT — still drunk — to get ourselves a college cat who grew into a behemoth and whose litter box we rarely, if ever, cleaned.)
And so, as the sun started to sink into the Pacific on Saturday, I watched my dear friend marry the man she loves. It is one thing to watch two people pledge their devotion to each other in front of their assembled friends and family; and to know that the words they speak are true, and real. But it is another thing entirely to witness what I witnessed last night: as the glass was shattered underfoot and the blessings of joy and congratulations were shouted, I watched true love prevail.