The things you learn when you travel with others (Part 4)

Part 1.  Part 2.  Part 3.

I had to leave work a bit early on Friday, knowing how confusing Port Authority can be.  Luckily I  found the bus lane almost immediately and the bus departed on time.

A little traffic and thankfully no carsickness later, I arrived in Woodstock around 8pm.  Marcy and Chad were arriving around 10pm, but Blair, Jeff, Cody and Carmen had come up earlier in the day and had been busy preparing dinner.  We feasted and caught up, then stayed up rather later drinking wine and catching up with Marcy and Chad once they showed up.

The next morning, I got up early and studied until I heard other people up and about. Blair made coffee while Carmen made a big platter of eggs for everyone.  After we had all had eaten, Blair helped me scrub down the counter so there would be no gluten contamination when I cooked the chana masala for the wedding potluck. Thank to my prep work over the weekend, the dish took little time to prepare, so some of us decided to head into town for an hour to pick up sandwiches to munch on while we were getting ready for the wedding.

Once we got there, the group split up: Carmen, Cody and I stumbled upon a flea market, while Blair and Jeff found countless little shops to browse and buy souvenirs. One hour began to stretch into two, and we hadn’t heard from Blair and Jeff. I picked up sandwiches for  just me and Cody as no one else was hungry. We got word from Marcy that Chad had twisted his ankle while they were out running, so the three of us found a drugstore and Carmen went inside to buy an ace bandage while Cody and I quickly ate our sandwiches outside. We had finally gotten in touch with Blair and Jeff, and the plan was to meet them back at their car.  When we got to the car and didn’t find them there, Carmen, Cody and I began to get nervous about being late for the wedding. Cody called them again, asking where they were and letting them know we were at the car. They finally strolled up 10 minutes later, displaying their purchases, unfazed by the lateness of the hour. Back at the house, we all scrambled to get ready, Chad [who had decided to power through and still attend] managed to tape his ankle enough to walk, and somewhat miraculously we left just 10 minutes behind schedule.

That evening, we arrived at the wedding clutching umbrellas in the light rain.  After cocktails and appetizers inside, we grabbed our umbrellas again and headed outside for the ceremony, which was still lovely.  Then we headed back inside for dinner — the turn-out for the potluck was excellent, and there was plenty of vegetarian as well as gluten-free food.

We had eaten dessert [Leela’s mother and the mother of one of the bridesmaids had made amazing mini strawberry shortcakes together], and I was outside speaking to the bride and some other friends when Cody came up to me and said the others were thinking of leaving.  It was only around 9pm.

Me: “Already?”

Cody: “Well, we’ve already been here a while.”

Me: “Leela said the dancing is starting soon.”

Cody: “So late?”

Me: “It’s not that late.  Remember I told you guys she’d asked me for help with the dance playlist, and I made her one on Spotify and sent it to her?  It turns out she has 3 playlists: Cocktails, which was modern; Reception, which is the jazz on now; and Dance is next.”

Cody: “Well, I’ve never been to a wedding like this where the dancing started so late.”

Me: “Ok…but I don’t really understand the problem.  Is it Chad?  Is he not feeling well.”

Cody: “Yeah, I think the pain is getting to him and he’s tired.”

Me: “Well, why didn’t you just say so?  Let’s go talk to Leela.”

Leela: “You’re kidding me, right?”

Me: “Remember Chad?”

Leela: “Who’s that?”

Me: “Marcy’s date.”

Leela: “Have we met him?”

Me: “Apparently at hibachi a year ago.”

Leela : “…okay.”

Me: “Well, he hurt his ankle running this morning and I think the pain is getting to him.”

Leela: “But why do you have to go?”

Me: “Well, we all came together, you know?  Although, wait — I could probably find a cab later, right?”

Leela: “Yes, there are cabs you can call!”

Me: “OK, so I’ll do– crap.  There’s only one key.  I won’t be able to get in the house.  Dammit!”

Leela: “Could they leave a door open for you, or hide the key or something?”

Me: “Carmen is terrified of bears and random psychokillers or something weird, so I doubt she’ll go for that.  I’m so sorry!  I want to stay, but I’m torn!”

Leela: ” It’s OK. I understand.”

I knew a few people at the wedding outside of the former co-worker group — some I knew from college, or had met over the years through Leela and her husband — so it took me a little while to say my goodbyes.  The group and I said a final goodbye to the newlyweds and headed back to the house.

Once there, Chad set himself up on the bench set in a bay window in the kitchen and the rest of the group started pulling out snacks and glasses and wine, and proceeded to continue the party.  They joked about using Chad’s ankle as an excuse to leave the wedding.  They remarked to me, “you were quite the social butterfly tonight” and “we didn’t get any pictures with you; you were always off with that other girl.”

I wished I could literally physically kick myself for not realizing what was going on.  Of course none of them had been to a wedding that was remotely non-traditional — playlist rather than DJ or band, potluck rather than catered, standing around eating and mingling rather than seated at an assigned table with only people you know.  I have attended weddings ranging from a buffet-style pig roast in a barn with playlists, wedding pies and midnight snacks of chips and salsa to an ultra-traditional Italian wedding hall with a guy making mozzarella and a whole dessert room.  So at Leela’s wedding I had actually walked around and spoken to a bunch of different people: the friends I had come with, others I knew, and total strangers.  The group had only spoken to each other, unless I brought someone over and introduced them.  And even then, after introductions were done, they continued to seclude themselves.  For them, this was a weekend away from the kids, or away from the city with their significant other.  For me, I actually wanted to celebrate my friend’s getting married at the wedding she took great pains to put together.

And as if that weren’t bad enough, I discovered the next day that there were 2 housekeys as well a little combination lockbox affixed to the outside of the garage, so they either could have left me at the wedding with a key, or if only one was brought, then someone could have left one in the lockbox for me.  I hadn’t asked since I had no way of knowing, and no one asked if I might want to stay.

But I didn’t know that yet.  On the night of the wedding, the group continued to party in isolation from anyone unfamiliar and different.  And I joined in.  I poured myself some rye, turned on my Bluetooth speaker to drown out some terrible bland pop music that was playing from someone else’s tinny phone speakers with the Dancey Spotify playlist I had made for the wedding.  I spoke crudely and bitingly, using a sense of humor I usually reserve for other friends, closer friends.  In all the times we’d hung out over the years, I had never shown them this side of me and they were scandalized.  I could see them exchanging glances, thinking I was too far gone to notice them, as if to say, “wow, she’s hammered and kind of an asshole.”  Well, they got the second part right.  But that’s why my better friends love me.


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