Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's Next?

It’s snowing in London. We heard shrieks from the street and when I turned my head, I couldn’t believe the white flurries right outside the window. Real snow, like in the movies, or Connecticut. Not London. London is grey and damp and … well, not as pretty as snow. But there it is, like a fat girl on her wedding day.

I’m in a daze and funk of feeling like a big old tub of lard, but somehow this time I seem to have retained a sense of humour – more or less – with uber-drama kind of kept as the sidedish that it was meant to be. Besides, you can’t exactly eat ice cream, cupcakes and bacon for a month and expect to look like you did on your wedding day, can you? Oh, and did I mention the bottles of deliciously yummy wine?

There is one in particular that has captured my heart these days. D and I would share a bottle of it from time to time in the final months of planning. I hadn’t realized just how many until we walked into the restaurant a couple of weeks ago and the manager jumped at me with an enthusiastic “so how did it go???”

It is called The White, made by The John Forrest Collection. Simple, Elegant, Kiwi, a perfect blend of eight or nine different grapes that fit together like Tetris blocks in the early nineties. Viognier, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay,
Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc – like children, the grapes exuberantly wait until the teacher – in this case the palate – calls on them. Each will get their turn.

The planning is now over and although we refuse to stop celebrating, the party’s officially done. It’s time to return to normal life, whatever that is, was, has been, will be. What that means for a surprising amount of people around us is that they now feel it is appropriate to ask about the next stage: children. The more direct questions are are often less inquisitive and more demanding.
“Why are you writing to me?” one guy’s email bounced back at me within four minutes of my having hit send, “you should be busy making babies with your husband!”
Mostly, however, people just want to know whether we want a family, the “when” remaining between us, unspoken but no less present.

A few months before the wedding, we had a couple of friends over for Shabbath dinner. The wife, already showing, asked me whether I was ever planning to “do” anything. I was insulted by her question for a few reasons: First and foremost because I resent the assumption that I sit and watch sitcoms all day just because I don’t have a “proper” job (another charmer), and secondly, because although she is very much in a similar situation to mine – career-wise at least – she seemed to have, from her perspective, finally found, in her impending motherhood, what she was doing to “do”.

When you’re single, they want to know why you haven’t found someone – as if there is no way to be happy on your own. When you meet someone nice, they start clucking about rings and The One. Then, you get engaged and everyone just keeps offering their “help” by asking whether you’re nervous yet, or worse, telling you that you should be. Then – finally – comes the wedding. Beautiful, blissful, you wish you could float on that cloud for the rest of your life. You make a mental note to do so putting as much intention as possible into that thought. Sadly, the bubble must burst. Within seconds of breaking the glass, the same people who shouted “Mazzel Tov” at the top of their lungs, who twirled you around and lifted you in the air to celebrate your union, throw you back to earth with a sweet, inquiring “so… when’s the children?”

If it would only stop there…

But no…

Once there’s one in the works, they want to know when the next one’s coming, and then the next and so on. “What, only one / two / six?” they ask, as if there is something wrong with the decision, or the accident. Suddenly it’s not only OK to admit you’re having sex, people actually want to know about it.

Does it ever stop?

We talk about being in the now, but nobody, it seems, wants us to be. They’re too busy looking for the next celebration or piece of gossip.


In the spirit of staying ahead of the game, here’s a two-fer:

Sweet potato (a current favorite: it is not only balancing to women’s hormones and warming in the cold season, it is also a sweet vegetable that helps curb cravings as well as a good source of fibre and vitamin C) and kale, boiled, make a wonderful, flavorful, incredibly healthy broth.

That broth can then be used for a multitude of purposes (unless you drink most of it straight, like I usually do). Yesterday, I also used it as a base for a carrot and onion soup – slow roasted, caramelized, rich, deep, warming (there’s a theme these days and it’s very different from the one in the Middle East where it was thirty degrees)

I also used it to make sweet potato, kale and chickpea muffins (they ain’t pretty, but there are no eyes in your stomach anyway)

Boil two sweet potatoes and half a bunch or so of kale until soft.
At the same time, boil a tin of chickpeas with cumin powder (you can use dried ones, but for the sake of time, I used canned – just make sure to rinse well before using).

While boiling the vegetables and chickpeas, sautee fresh ginger, garlic, cilantro leaves and chili for as long as possible on as low a flame as possible.

In the food processor or blender, shred / blend the kale and the sweet potato (depending on the texture you’re going for) with a bit of the broth (have I mentioned how nourishing this broth is?)

Mash the soft chickpeas with a fork

Mix the chickpeas and sweet potato/kale mush together with the sautéed herbs and spices.

¾ cups of chickpea flour
¾ cups brown rice flour
salt to taste
½ t baking powder
1 egg (optional – I use it as a binder)
½ cup liquid / milk – fresh Brazil nut milk worked for me but I’m sure oat, almond, soya or regular would do the job just as well.

(I would have added green onion had I had any on hand, but seeing as this was more of a fridge-clearing, whatever I could find muffin (and it was seven in the morning), I didn’t bother trying to find any.)

Knead the concoction with your hands until the dough is thick and comforting but gloopy nonetheless.
If necessary, dilute with some more broth.

Spoon into a greased muffin pan (I use coconut oil) and bake at 170 degrees until muffinney

They do look like they would have special needs if they were human, but they are sweet and savoury and comforting and nutritious and they work perfectly as a snack or with soup, salad or steamed vegetables.

Now what’s next?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Wedding Dress Dilemma or How The Garnish Can Make the Soup

When D and I got engaged, I became all about the eco-chic. After reading the hundredth article about it, my main question was how green was my wedding going to be? Our invitations would be small because we were going to use a website to disperse the information. There would be minimal flowers and decorations and the food would be local, if not organic. My dress wasn’t going to be one of those lavish gowns worn once and then locked up in a closet until a future daughter might hopefully not sneer at Mom’s terrible taste and want to wear it at her own wedding. I was going to wear something practical, dyeable, and preferably made of organic cotton, hemp or bamboo.

I contacted a young (affordable) designer whose knitted beige dress I have often worn to other people’s weddings. Her choices of organic fabrics are urban, fun and feminine, and I loved the enthusiasm in her voice when she responded to my description of what I was looking for. We fixed an appointment and indeed met in person to discuss options. She gave me a few fantastic suggestions and requested a couple of months to come up with sketches.

Unfortunately, that was the last I heard from her. After three or four attempts on my part to get in touch, I gave up trying. Organic or not, Mohammed and the Mountain had bigger fish to fry.

In New York, I researched wedding dress thrift shops. I even tried to find “the dress” at a wonderful not-for-profit that receives all its merchandise from designers and wealthy women. The proceeds go to help inner-city children. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t stained, ripped or below size 16.

Then, despite my best intentions, I found the dress. It was everything I didn’t want it to be except puffy and lacy. It was luxurious, extravagant, a “real” wedding dress, non-transferable, non-dyable, impractical and so beautiful I couldn’t believe it was me I was looking at in the mirror.

If one is truly hell-bent on the organic, practical option, my advice is DON’T even try on those classical, ex-bloody-pensive, “real” wedding dresses. Stay away from Vera Wang, avoid entering wedding shops altogether.
That’s how they get you.

“Oh no, I’m not going to spent THAT kind of money on a dress. How dare they! IT’S ONE DAY!” you think, sensibly, following that up with a condescending “Ridiculous! I’d rather send my children to college.”

That is before you’ve tried any of them on; before you’ve felt the slinky, white fabric on your skin as you swish sexily around on your tiptoes, your former lumps now transformed into curves; before you’ve looked in the mirror and have been forced to admit that, despite the terrible hat-hair, you look better than you ever have, prettier, more feminine.

Your resolve starts to waver as you keep staring at the new you, all woman, all bride, all wife-to-be. It becomes political, philosophical, a priority – anything to make the amount you are about to spend justifiable … You think to yourself how unfair society has been to women, how far this era of combat boots and corduroy pants has driven us from our inherent femininity. But no more! The time has come to reclaim what has been squashed out of you by generations of oppression! You have to hold yourself back from raising an angry fist in the name of all the women of the world, your sisters in wardrobe, stuck in masculine suits and this close to wearing a balled-up pair of socks stuffed down their pants and a necktie to work.

So you do what anyone in your situation would: you turn to the saleslady who has waited on you hand and foot. She smiles, seemingly demure although you know she is secretly ecstatic in the knowledge that she has thwarted another bunch of good intentions, broken another girl, ripped her from the bosom of mother earth and forced her out into the open as the Carrie-wanna-be every woman really is.

“Do you take credit cards?” you ask, feeling the guilt climbing up your back and knocking on your skull as the words come out of your mouth. You pray that there is enough in the bank account to cover it, and you pray that there isn’t. You hope this won’t be what makes it blatantly clear and establishes you forever more as everything you’ve been trying to avoid: a Bridezilla in disguise.

As the jeep made its way up the mountain, I was aware of the dress draping softly over my legs. The feel of the fabric caused excitement to ripple through my skin. I shivered. Every part of me was now aware that this day was unlike any other (and not because I was going to be eating unleavened bread). My hair was done-up in beautiful curls, my makeup was as good as professional. When the jeep dropped me off, there would be a crowd of people waiting to see me. I looked out the window, inhaled deeply and exhaled loudly.

Beside me, my T and my friend DKB were silent but I could feel them as if they were clasping my hands even though in reality my fingers were curled tightly around my bouquet of flowers.

When I had put my dress on that morning, for the first time, I had felt that it was mine; that I had become the bride. Until then, it had been like putting on a costume, a costly white testament to the power of make-believe; so convinced was I that it wasn’t going to happen, that some catastrophe would bar my day from being as joyful as everyone said it was supposed to be. With the last push of the zipper, I had been transformed.

After dinner, I changed out of the dress, already regretting it as I stepped a bare foot into my jeans. I would no longer be the bride. Instead, I would be the person throwing the all-night dance party, the dress’ spell having worn off from the first tug downward of that same zipper.

When I was a child, I was afraid of monsters attacking me during the night. I slept on the top bunk of a bunk bed, and my biggest fear was that they would grab my feet in my sleep. To combat this, I convinced myself that as long as the duvet was folded over, as long as I was well-wrapped into it, I would be all right. I would tuck the covers around my feet like a cocoon, making sure there were no holes, no corners sticking out. On the worst nights, I left only the tiniest of breathing holes from where I could breathe. Tucked under pillows, folded-in like a newborn, I was safe.

The wedding dress served roughly the same purpose, except translated into adult terms. It wasn’t that monsters wouldn’t eat my feet without it, but rather that nothing bad would happen, that I didn’t need to take responsibility or make important decisions or even get involved in the petty dramas of the everyday – as long as I was wearing the dress.
“Talk to my aunt,” I had answered the restaurant manager when she had come to ask whether we should start dinner after the first round of celebratory dancing. I was the bride; it wasn’t my problem.

In my dress, the food contained no calories, even the most irritating of questions, remarks, judgments, the most rigid of expectations mattered little. In my dress, I didn’t have to worry about whether we would be able to conceive, who was thinking what, and who hadn’t heard the ceremony properly. I didn’t even have to consider how long the speeches were dragging on. Because I was the bride; and, as the bride, there was no anger, no fear, no frustration, no future, no past. Even five minutes in the future was of no consequence. As the bride, armed with my perfect white dress as weapon and shield, only that very second mattered – and then it passed. And I was back to being like everyone else, a woman celebrating an amazing event in her life, dancing, laughing, enjoying a glass of wine.

I will never know how I would have felt had I found a more eco-friendly dress for my wedding day.

Maybe none of it had anything to do with the dress. Possibly. But it will take someone else to garner those emotions without the smoothe ribbing, the flowing train (though mine was pinned up), the moulded breast cups, the hand-beaded décolletage, the fitted bodice.

In every other way, we managed to stick to our original goals. It was only the dress, the garnish if you will, that was my sweet indulgence as well as my downfall. The dress made me a bride and a hypocrite, it took me from down-to-earth to high-maintenance. The dress intoxicated me, blinding me with its beauty and how I looked wearing it. The stakes were immediately raised way beyond what I thought myself capable of delivering and yet with the dress, anything was possible.

The dress gave me the right to demand nothing less than perfection. In the dress, I could dream of a wedding beyond belief. In the dress, that wedding would become a reality.

Ironically, on the day itself, when things went differently from what I had so carefully planned, when shit actually happened, it was the fact that I was wearing the most exquisite gown that gave me the courage to laugh; and D’s tears when he saw me walking towards him, his choked whisper, “you look so beautiful”, when I finally reached him that made me feel confident enough to keep laughing. In the dress, I was invincible, and in D’s eyes, I saw clearly the main reason why buying it had been the right thing to do.

Back on earth… We returned to the blustery, grey British weather with a thankless thud after eating our way through New York, and wandering the autumn streets of Manhattan gazing at the turning leaves through our sunglasses. The damp cold was an unwelcome welcome, a sign that nothing had changed – possibly, though we felt very different, not even us.

The bills hadn’t decided to give us a break because we were newlyweds, and neither had the weather. How I wished I could wear the dress coming off the plane, arriving back in our empty home, to London, so far from so many with whom I had danced under the stars just minutes before.

On our first Friday night back, I decided to make soup. Though this sounds relatively simple and is, in theory (as well as in my regular practice), I failed miserably. There are a few reasons for this, in my opinion: first of all, I put too much pressure on myself. This was to be our first Shabbat dinner in the flat as husband and wife and I wanted it to be perfect, a meal to remember. I didn’t want Shabbat dinner to be spectacular only when we had guests over. And finally, there were two heads of cauliflower that needed to be eaten.

There are very few foods that I don’t like. In fact, other than Marmite, there is not one thing that I actively dislike. Cauliflower, however, comes damn close.

So between the self-imposed pressure and my inherent dislike of the main ingredient of my soup, it was no wonder that our first Shabbat dinner was, in fact, quite the opposite of ‘spectacular’; unless one chooses to follow that up with ‘catastrophe’.

What saved me was the garnish I improvised as a spicy counter-taste to the blandness of the veloute.

Though I ended up chucking the leftover soup – a much detested action I reserve only for truly bad food – I was able to recycle the garnish the next day by mixing it with tahini and lemon juice and reinvent it as a lush dressing for a comforting rainy-day salad.

The First Incarnation: Garnish

1 decent-sized hot chilli pepper, finely chopped
2 -3 garlic cloves, pressed
a good portion of a bunch of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
a handful of chopped pistachio nuts
a dollop of pistachio oil
salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in the food processor or mortar and pestle until you have a smoothish paste

The Second Incarnation: Dressing

Add tahini paste, the juice of one lemon and water to already made garnish (I added more garlic, but it’s definitely a personal taste thing)

The Salad

Slow roast 2 sweet potatoes with olive oil, sage, rosemary, salt and whole peppercorns at 150 degrees Centigrade for about an hour and a quarter (or until soft and slightly caramelized).

Lightly steam a bunch of spinach until slightly wilted. Chop up roughly

Mix the salad with the Dressing
Serve with chickpea flatbread or as a side dish.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Wedding -- Part 2 of ???

How innocent we were back then, last month, before the day arrived. We were full of perfect plans and plans for the perfect day, full of visions of everything going perfectly and plans to remind ourselves and each other to breathe when it didn’t.

Somebody told me that at some point I’d stop hoping nothing would go wrong… that there would come a moment when I would start to enjoy…

“But I’m enjoying already!” I said, through clenched teeth.

I didn’t sleep much before the wedding. In that way, I take after my grandmother. There we were, roaming the halls, the Jewish Queen and Princess of the night, the gears in our minds clicking with what ifs and need tos and how abouts. By the time D woke up every morning, my To Do list had usually grown, not shrunk. Still, I maintained, it was all good, all fun, all for the best day of my life.

At 6 a.m. on the morning of September 15th, six days before my wedding, I quietly unlocked the door to my mother’s apartment. She too was up, sipping her instant coffee, reading the paper, stroking the cat. Lola, my mother’s sinewy, grey cat must have known that D’s parents needed to sleep as, for once, she was quiet.

They had arrived in the middle of the night at Ben Gurion airport and had come straight to Haifa, to my mother’s apartment where we were to spend the next couple of days together.

“I’m going to the beach,” I whispered, “would you like to come?”
My mother shook her head, “No, I should be here when The Parents wake up.”

She had been fretting over their arrival for days. What did The Parents like for breakfast? What would The Parents think of Lola? Which part of Haifa would be best to show The Parents?

The Parents had finally arrived and were sleeping just on the other side of the bedroom door. I knew S, The Mother, would probably be up momentarily and could understand why my mother wanted to hang around.

I drove down to the beach enjoying the pre-rush-hour serenity, a rarity in Israel. The waves were quite high that day, the sky white as the sun was still busy setting somewhere else. Along the water, people were jogging, walking their dogs, talking loudly down their cellphones.
“Motti! I told you!” one large woman hollered, her bulges rolling around as she strode purposefully along, “I can’t right now, I’m relaxing!” She was dressed for the gym, walking as if on Wall Street, her voice at the same pitch and tone as someone watching the markets crash from the floor of the stock exchange.
I smiled: Israel.

Three hours later, I returned home smelling of seaweed and carrying one hundred and ten stones on which we would write our guests’ names later on that day – me, my Mum and my future sister-in-law, Silv, who is mad-talented at the arts and crafts thing.

My mother opened the door and burst out laughing. Behind her, D’s mother looked worried. I was covered in a layer of sand, my shorts were falling down, my t-shirt was drooping off one shoulder as I dragged one of those huge blue IKEA bags – the ones with the lifetime guarantee, mostly because they are so toxic that they will probably outlast humankind – filled with the rocks I had scrounged at the beach.

In addition, I was also carrying a large, rotting oar. Under a layer of seawater and algae, the rusting screws and attachments sticking out, it was a beautiful find that would, in my opinion, fit perfectly on my mother’s terrace, next to her plants and copper pots.

We are foragers, my family and I, and everything from our friends – picked up in restaurants or airplanes -- to our homes reflect this. My mother’s coffee table is a huge slab of tree trunk found by my grandfather years ago; ours – D’s and mine – is an old trunk a friend pulled out of a landfill in New Jersey. The artwork on our walls is a mixture of gifts and treasures acquired when others no longer saw a need for them. I remember my first bicycle: it was an olive green banana-seated rusty old thing bought for a quarter at a garage sale in a suburb of Chicago. Talk about aspirational – I was still riding a tricycle at the time! I remember the day that I was finally able to touch the pedals with my feet. What a day that was… And now here I was, getting ready to be a bride.

First I would need a shower.

I had had to make two trips for the stones and though I had barely slowed my pace walking by the oar the first time around, I hadn’t been able to resist twice. As I dragged the bag of rocks with one hand, the oar with the other, my cellphone had started to vibrate in the back pocket. I can never resist my cellphone – or any other phone really: what if it’s something important? Even in other people’s houses, I have to remind myself that no matter what, agents and publishers and even my family do not have the number, that they can call me on my mobile if they want to offer me a book deal. Which is why when my back pocket vibrated that morning, I dropped the oar and wrangled the receiver to my ear as quickly as possible.





I recognized PB of PB&J fame (well, really, it’s PB&SB, but I prefer J as they are as mythical a couple as my favourite childhood breakfast).

“PB!” I laughed at the timing of his phone call.

“It’s PB,” he said at the same time, “greetings from Ojai!”

“What time is it there?”

“Oh, I don’t know, the middle of the night … We’re leaving in the morning and hadn’t heard from you. We wanted to find out how to get to Jerusalem from the airport.”

My cousin had arrived from Canada a couple of days before. I would be seeing D’s parents in a few minutes. I had spoken to other friends who were already in Jerusalem. Still, hearing PB’s chipper charms oozing from California to Haifa made it suddenly real. They were wondering how they were going to get to Jerusalem, where they were going to sleep… because they were on their way to our wedding…

“I was going to surprise you,” I admitted, feeling stupid for having forgotten to email them some false information to throw them off the trail or at least put their minds at ease, “I’ll be at the airport.”

Half an hour later, I walked into my mother’s flat carrying the rotting oar and one-hundred-and-ten stones but unlike when I had left at 6:15 that morning, I was excited rather than stressed, filled with exuberance not anxiety for the days to come.

We were so innocent back then, a month ago, when I still thought it was “just a piece of paper.”

We wrote vows to each other and fretted over our speeches.

We walked people around the Old City of Jerusalem and climbed Massada at sunrise. We spread mud on each other’s faces at the Dead Sea, and listened to the chanting of the Muezzin. We huddled with the rest of the masses making their way out of the Damascus Gate, and sipped fresh mint tea in the garden of the American Colony Hotel. We welcomed friends and family from the UK, from the US, from Canada, from Belgium, from Modi’in and Tel Aviv, from Switzerland. We answered questions about the history of Jerusalem and our history as a couple, we introduced people whom we would have wanted to have in the same room on many occasions and watched them click into easy conversations as if they had known each other for as long as we had known them – years or generations.

And D and I stood back every few hours, holding hands and watching it all unfold without really realizing what was happening, what was about to happen, what had been set in motion.

Then, suddenly, there was no time… for anything.

From the back of the minibus, my eyes filled with tears when the first sign appeared: “To David and Gabriela’s wedding”. My aunt had promised to put them up a few days earlier upon hearing what they meant to me. Still, seeing “To Michal and Jonathan’s wedding” is very different from seeing my own name in the bride’s slot. For the first time, I understood why magazines pushed so vehemently for waterproof mascara.

Throughout Israel poles and trees bear signs to people’s weddings. They hang there, weeks after the event, fading in the sun, dripping with rain, until they fall off, making way for new signs, new celebrations. In a country so filled with sadness, the signs to people’s weddings are a testimony to the human desire for happiness, under any circumstance.

“May we meet on happy occasions” people say, “Nitrae Besmachot”

The reality of seeing those signs pointing to MY wedding, in English, in Hebrew, with my Tia from Canada and my mother and my friend DBK from London sitting next to me – was starting to sink in when I sat upright so quickly I hit my head knocking my perfectly-done hair loose: with all of the preparations, the photographs, the laughter, the mediation, the emotions of that morning… I had forgotten my vows.

I looked up at the roof of the car and shook my head. Oh the irony… I knew D would love it, savour it, like a bite of chocolate ice cream that lasts for months instead of seconds, or the perfect espresso, imbibed at a hole-in-the-wall in Italy but superb enough to recall to one’s fiancée years later.

Fresh from a week of ups, downs and many, many sideways, I had finished my vows that morning having added a final message to my soon-to-be husband:
After an emotionally raw but honest admission that “I love the way you look at me sometimes, with more love than I thought existed. Even when my heart feels cold and closed off, there is always a sliver of love, like the crack of light seeping out from under a tightly shut door. I am reminded that there is someone there behind the pain and sadness, that I am capable of feeling the way I do for you. You have taught me to love imperfection, because you love me despite all of mine.”
I had deliberately followed it up with “You’ll probably forget all of this as you forget most things, but if there is one thing that I would like you to remember, it is that I promise to work every day of our life together to accept you like you accept me, to forgive your foibles and idiosyncracies like you forgive mine, to forgive both of us, to love you as best I can and to make you feel loved.”

I did not expect so many tears – his – or so many things forgotten – mine. Who knew that we would be exchanging roles that day, showing each other our most vulnerable sides – in public! – and that those little things would make the larger reality of our marriage mean so much more.

When we were theorizing about how we wanted our ceremony to play out, sitting on the couch in our living room in London, the heating blasting, the rain pelting down in the middle of summer, we considered everything from the poles that would hold up the huppah to the music our friend ITB would play. We talked about stones for place-holders and dessert. We wondered whether the jeep would get people up in time, whether everyone would be able to walk to the ceremony all right, and when it all needed to happen in order for us to make sunset.

Never, not once, did we consider what we would do if I forgot anything.

Because I don’t forget things.


In the well-oiled mechanism of our partnership, that’s D’s job.

My job is then to sigh as if he has just deposited the entire scope of mother-earth on my shoulders, which I predictably follow-up with a shaking of the head in an “I-Knew-It” fashion. Depending on my mood, I either let him have it or I laugh it off, which is when D picks up the ball and looks either relieved or afraid, frustrated or defensive or glad.

Those are our jobs; mine and his. And that was what I was signing up for, wasn’t it?

If there was ever a moment to realize that partnership, marriage, love is about change and growth, about accepting that we will never know the other person fully, and about enjoying those new nooks and crannies – that was it.

I don’t think I would have been as ready to commit myself to D at any other point in time as I was that afternoon. I have never loved him as much as I did then, nor have I been able to laugh at myself as easily as I did realizing how many things I was supposed to do that I hadn’t. Because I forgot. And it didn’t matter. It didn’t make me any of the things I would usually have called myself -- stupid, useless, etc. -- because those are the little things that will make our chuppah memorable – for us and everyone else. I forgot my vows, I said “shit” under the chuppah – twice.

And still, it was the best day of my life… for so many reasons…. When do you stop talking about something that didn’t feel real and was so incredible that people are still discussing it almost a month later?

All I can say is I don’t know but I’m not done yet…

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Wedding – Part 1 of ???

This is part 1 of I don’t know how many. Because when do you stop talking about something that didn’t feel real and was so incredible that people are still discussing it almost a month later?

Everyone had said it would be the best day of my life. Then again, “everyone” say a lot of things… I don’t necessarily believe “everyone” anymore. Not usually anyway… What do they know about me?

But once in a while an event or a moment comes along that stretches across the divide of age, of time, of location, of pronouncements and predicaments. I guess wedding days, for the most part, fall into that category. At least that’s what everyone says.

It was, far, far beyond any runner-up, the best day of my life. And looking at the pictures, I have to remind myself that that beautiful girl in the white dress, the gorgeous woman glowing, beaming, overflowing with confidence and joy – is the same person who usually focuses on her double chin and the protruding belly -- me.

There were no spilt ends that day, no bloat, no wrong foods. From the hair that wouldn’t stay up, to the bus that got lost, to the forgotten vows – it was all perfect.

And now comes the tricky task of talking about it, of putting it down in words that are only mine, without the backup of others’ experiences, which is why I have found it so difficult to get anything down at all…

Did it happen? Really?

Why did it end?

What now?

I want to call everyone who was there and get each and every person to talk me through it minute by minute, in slo-mo so I can relive the whole thing again

and again

and again

Ninety-nine times over…

D and I knew, from when we first started planning the wedding, that we didn’t want our night to have a set end-time. We wanted it to be a night unlike any other – Passover on crack, a night that would go on, with no rules, no “right” no “wrong”, only us and the one word that we kept bringing up throughout the planning: fun.

We didn’t want to get stuck fiddling with room keys at two a.m., or waking up in the same bed we had that morning. So we didn’t.

At nine the next morning, we said goodbye to the last guests.

But I’m getting ahead of myself… Because there are so many strands to this wedding, so many details to mention, to paint into the bigger picture, that it is easy to forget the bottom line: we are now married, D and I, and rather happily at that.

We keep staring at each other and sappily slurring “we’re married” – not because we’re drunk, but the words feel sticky, unused, as if they were just taken out of the box, or there is caramel in our mouths, or peanut butter. It doesn’t feel natural yet. Nor does “my husband” that I find myself saying as often as I possibly can. I still can’t say it without laughing. Only recently did I get over the hysterics involved in “my fiancé”.

So here’s part 1 of many, or few, part 1 of the best day of my life, part 1 of whatever I can remember of that day, that week, that never-ending stream of people I love appearing and hugging me and wishing me well.

Much of the ceremony is a blur, but D staring into my eyes and urging me to remember that moment, remains clear. Because now that we’re back in the greyness of London, now that everyone has returned to their lives, I want it all back, and so I close my eyes and breathe in the air of the Judean Hills, the sun setting, and a friend’s perfume that reminds me that people have come from far away to celebrate with us.

What a day. What a week. What a life. I’m a wife.

((sorry… :-))