Friday, December 28, 2012

Here Comes the Bride, 26 Years Ago Today

Dah, DAH, dah dah...dah DAH, dah DAAAAAH..........  Here I am on my Daddy's arm, walking down the aisle.  Get a load of those poofy sleeves.  (You know you're in the 80's when....)

Today is our 26th wedding anniversary.   Paul was 25 and I was 21, both of us students at Towson University (then known as Towson State University --and always shall be, in my mind).   He was majoring in Business Administration and I in English, but we didn't meet at college.

We met  in a tiny, run-down church in Baltimore's inner city, doing the work of  what you might call "local missionaries."  It was July 1985. For several months prior to my "arrival," if you will,  he and some friends had been going door-to-door inviting kids to come to their Bible club for stories, games, singing, and snacks.  At the time, I had  recently transferred from a college in western Pennsylvania, moved into an apartment with a good friend on 33rd Street in Baltimore, and had begun to search for a church.  I knew there had to be more to life than school and work, school and work, school and work. I longed to minister either to children or the elderly.

Through a chain of events, I met a guy who was leading this kids' Bible club, and he introduced me to Paul. From the first time I saw  Paul strumming his guitar in that rickety old, musty, floor- creaking Baptist church on Conkling Street, I was smitten.  There was something different about him. 

We hung out with church friends in groups, mostly, not really "dating," per se.  He was so quiet it was hard for him to express his feelings. I didn't really know where he stood until that guy who introduced us  told me that Paul had "eyes" for me.   That was probably late August/early September.

In October,  his brother died suddenly on the job, of a ruptured aorta. He was 33.  Paul called me right away. I sat down on my avocado-colored carpet in my apartment. Shocked. Didn't know what to say. But for some dumb reason, as I hung up, I said "I love you!" and before he knew it, he blurted out, "I love you, too! Bye!"  (He has no recollection of that, but I do.)  People at the funeral whispered, "Is that Paul's wife? Girlfriend? Who is she?" 

It's an odd thing to meet most of your future husband's family at a funeral, but I soon learned there would be many oddities to adjust to as a member of the Z clan.

In this photo on the far left is my uncle Doug. He designed my bouquet. Next to him in the front is Gary, still a very good friend and brother in Christ. Behind him is Paul's brother Gerard in those Elvis shades, and then David, his younger brother who is always one joke or smart comment away from disrupting an entire photo shoot, or funeral.  The little ringbearer, Paul's nephew,  now has a three-year-old of his own. Wow. The tall dude in the back row was a college friend of Paul's (they had declared themselves "Bachelors till the Rapture," but both succumbed to the fate of love and marriage).  In front of Tall Bachelor is Paul's brother Tony, who looks like he was just goosed. Next to him, no it isn't a cut-out of Tom Cruise, it's my sister Andrea's then-boyfriend who offered to usher for us.

Word to the wise: don't ask anyone's boyfriend to be in your wedding even if they are remarkably handsome.

Andrea said she had a migraine that day. Can you tell? Me neither.  She looks like one of Charlie's Angels.

So back to my love story and how we met and all that...

Soon after his brother's funeral, some time in very late October, I believe, we had our first official date. It was at the Bel Loc Diner.  Penny-pincher that he was, Paul ordered iced tea, and I had hot tea. (To his credit, it was at 10:30 pm when I got off work as a waitress across the street from the Bel Loc,  and I was more interested in his company than in food. Besides, I was not about to order food unless he did, and he didn't.)

(My older sister in green, sister and SIL in red, on the right.
On the left, friends Kim and Theresa.

The flowergirl? My baby sister Jill.

Sweet, isn't she?

They said at the altar she kept sliding her arms all the way through
her muff and waving at people on both sides of her at the same time.
That's Jill for ya. Everybody's friend.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah....

Three months after our first date, in late January of '86, Paul asked my dad for my hand in marriage, and of course Daddy consulted Mama, and together they agreed, but on one condition--that we wait until I was within 9 months of college graduation.  They knew I wanted to be a mother and also knew I wanted to have my degree first.

Besides, said Daddy, "you two need time to iron out wrinkles in your relationship."  Wrinkles? What was he talking about?  But we honored their wishes and waited until December.


Mama said the wedding had to be after Christmas.
Paul wanted the tax deduction, so it had to be by the 31st.
I had always wanted to get married on a Sunday.
So the 28th it was.

Nine days after final exams.

Oh, right. We weren't thinking.
"Young and dumb" ? Why, yes, we were, as a matter of fact. Young, dumb, and about to burn with passion.

Sadly, just 20 days before our wedding, Paul's mother died suddenly, the same way her son had.   Hence the pictures where only his dad is standing with us.  (Sorry about the odd angle; I took pictures of our wedding pictures from our album.)

Dad managed a smile after the wedding.

He could hardly stop the tears beforehand. In this aerial view, you can see him  on the front row, blowing his nose. Poor man. He lost his son and his wife in less than 14 months.

But he was gaining yet another daughter.

We parents who have attended our own son's wedding understand that wonderful feeling.  I just had no idea how quickly I'd go from being bride to mother-of-the-groom.

But I digress.

Frequent digressions are symptoms hallmarks
 of middle age.

At the close of our reception, it started to snow. How romantic. 
We walked out to the car to find the message "JUST MET" on
the back window. (The groomsmen had discovered, after the "M," that they
were short on masking tape.)

After the parking-lot kiss and before we drove away, Paul removed all the tape,
all the cans and streamers, every shred of "mess" from his beloved '84
Chevy Chevette. I should have known right there I'd have some
adjustments to make.  Mr. Neatnik married Miss Let's Party!

Guess that was one of the wrinkles Daddy was talking about.

Oh, well.  

Let's keep kissing, shall we, while the snowflakes fall on our cheeks-- and on
the photographer's camera lens?

Happy anniversary, honey. I love you!


Amy said...

very sweet :) happy anniversary!

Katharine said...

Happy Anniversary! My husband was born and raised Baltimore, so your references are all familiar!