The Wednesday night before my Thursday flight I awoke at precisely 2:07 AM to the sound of a car alarm. At roughly 2:07:51 AM the lady in my digital answering machine spoke up and said to the darkness: “Please record your message.” I heard a click and my alarm clock went black. Another click seconds later and the numbers appear again only this time they flash 12:00. 12:00. 12:00.
I witnessed a two-second power outage. Why is this so significant? Well… if the car alarm had not woken me up, I would have never experienced the power outage, I would have never experienced my alarm clock resetting, and most likely would not have woken up on time. So from about 2:09 AM on I tossed and turned trying to reassure myself that this was not a warning to not board my flight. That it wasn’t the Universe’s way of telling me to not fly. It wasn’t the Universe’s way of trying to make sure I sleep through my wake up time.
I boarded the next morning anyway, said a little prayer to whoever/whatever was controlling the Universal events of that day, checked the wing beneath me for cracks or loose screws, and entered the atmosphere with a roar and Margot at my feet. The Green Mile, some cute Canadian short films, and several crossword puzzles later I was in Ottawa at the baggage claim sending Kenny some exhausted “Where are you?” text message which really meant that I was kind of bummed that I didn’t see a familiar face waiting to greet me. I’m such a sucky suck. He was there though, just outside, and frankly didn’t notice me until I was 10 feet away from him and then he smiled and mentioned something about me being a bag lady, then hoisted my goods into his trunk.
Day One, Thursday, I had dinner at The Works with Kenny not too long after landing and getting Margs all settled at my mom’s. Not even three hours after this I found myself in bed, barely coherent by 8:30 PM EST, which in actuality was 5:30 PM for me. Justified? Ya, probably. Although it could also have been the concoction of anti-histamines, decongestants, and Gravol I ingested in the first leg of my trip as well.
Friday morning was visit with my dad, pick up my Czech citizenship, take photo for my Czech passport, drive to Belleville day. I skipped over to my dad’s really early in the morning (okay, it was 9:00 AM) where the two of us enjoyed a quick little breakfast, some coffee, catching up, and five or six rough copies of what he was going to write in my brother and his wife-to-be’s wedding card.
I was less than pleased with my passport photo. My first inclination that this was going to be a photographic disaster was that the “passport photo room” is a stark white closet with two bright, white, fluro lights running vertically along each side of your face mounted to each corner at the front to my left and my right. A lighting nightmare. This set-up ensures that there is no dimension to anyone’s face because it literally blanches out curves and contours. So my face might as well have been this oval, flat, glowing thing with two eyes plugged into it. Thankfully my photographer enabled my perfectionist, anal-retentive, self-deprecating, never-happy-with-anything-personality (which only comes out as a package 17% of the time, for the record) by snapping four photos of myself which, okay, okay, looked exactly the same every single time. My face was captured almost exactly like this. In fact, I’m quite proud of myself for how accurately this turned out:
Thankfully, I was distracted from my disgust and sheer embarrassment of my passport photo by the nifty fingerprint device that was next on the list of things to do in the passport process. The Czech passports are so hi-tech.
As a side note, sometimes I feel lucky that I deal with strangers who are tolerant of just how questionable I can be sometimes. Although, I will also admit that my discretion does play a part. Not everyone is privy to such sides of me. There is a screening process within the first minute of our interaction.
Where was I?
Yes. Just before leaving I asked the Czech consulate, who by this time must have just wanted me the hell out of there, if I could take with me a poster commemorating the Czech Republic’s regional integration into the European Union which he graciously gave me; which I might add, is still sitting in the kitchen at my mom’s to this date. At least I hope it is. Muzzy? In the end I think I made up for it by putting the háček ( ˇ ) over the wrong letter when printing my last name in Czech. I think he got a good čuckle out of it at my expense, so it was the least I could do.
That afternoon my Auntie Carol and I made the trek to Prince Edward County, the hub of wedding events that weekend. One big bag of chips each, a coffee, a bottle of water, and two hundred (not mine) cigarettes later we had arrived at this most pristine and glorious five bedroom, five bath cottage my family had rented for the weekend that overlooks Lake Ontario called Wellington Place.
I have to tell you, it felt so good to be around my family again. And, so many of them under one roof. That’s one thing I can miss about being so far away from home; the accessibility of my family. I imagine it was especially fun for my dad who was a) the only male for the first 24 hours and b) surrounded by his ex-wife’s/mother of his children’s family. Everything was synchronised perfectly, though. See, there’s history there and it was nice to see everyone catching up on old times. It was comfortable. My parents were comfortable. Everyone still gets a kick out of my dad’s hilarity which was unique to observe. He’s as welcome now as he probably would have been when my parents were still together. So that was nice.
Saturday was wedding day. We all eased into the morning having coffee on the patio over the water. Eventually my mom, auntie Diane, and I went for a successfully under-skilled canoe ride before the rest of the cottage dwellers arrived. It had been ages since I was out in a canoe slicing into the stillness of Lake Ontario. And, like the good Brownies we all once were, we even sang Land of the Silver Birch to keep our strokes in sync.
My best-friend, soul mate in our next life, and date for the wedding, Shannon arrived with my cousin, Andrea (yep, Andrea), Andrea’s boyfriend, and family friend Mary. And, at that moment it felt like a day for a wedding.
The wedding was under an apple tree. The day was perfect. The sky was blue. The venue shared the same property as the apple tree which was great. After the ceremony there was a table set up with a rickety sign hanging off the railing behind that said “Scotch n’ Cigars.” This is where the fun really kicked up a notch.
We filed into the hall shortly after all the photos to eat one of the best wedding dinners I’ve ever had. The entire meal was made up of local and organic food and was scrumptious and familiar in that kind of family dinner way. Two of the dishes were actually family recipes on Heidi’s side that the chefs cooked up.
I should rewind a little bit. Just before the dinner, as with most weddings, the parents, wedding party, and bride and groom are introduced. First duo out were Heidi’s parents. The music blasted and out they came shaking their booties. I sat at my seat, clapping and cheering, and I realised at that moment that there was a very good possibility my parents were instructed to come out doing the same thing. I thought to myself Noooo, they would never and out they shimmied. I was stunned. My mom had this kind of dance/clap/side-step thing going on, while my dad did the off-beat hip shuffle and threw up his arms on every opposite beat. It was the most fantastic thing I think I’ve ever seen in my life and I remember at that moment I reached some form of euphoria as my heart heaved with the kind of unobstructed elation toward everything around me and my existence at that moment in time.
Shannon and I were feeling it drunk by the time the dance floor opened up. People were high, happy, and energized from either alcohol, the vibe, or most likely both. My auntie Cecilia, into her 80s, nodded off at the table sitting up with a very peaceful smile on her face. Her eyebrows were even arched, frozen at the moment she probably tried to open her eyelids and fell asleep milliseconds thereafter. She is notorious for that and it makes me want to pinch her cheeks.
Like this in a way:
I spent most of the dinner observing the room and watching my brother kiss his new bride on the temple or back of her hand every so often. I did this primarily because I was due up for a speech/toast and had decided that morning that I was just going to wing it. So I found myself getting lost in my little brother, who was now someone’s husband and thinking back to how much fun we had as kids. I had the feeling of missing it in a way but this thought process gave me some good material and my toast came out easily except for the part when I referred to my brother’s wife by his ex-girlfriend’s name.
Just kidds! I’m so funny.
My brother gave a really adorable speech which I know he was really nervous about. He is so intelligent and expressive but he can also be very quiet and humble. He really amazed me when he admitted he lost the first two pages of his speech too. Seeing the two of them up at the podium together, expressing their love for each other and their friends and family was surreal and very happy. They both said some really lovely things and it felt incredible seeing them each have such an appreciation for each other as people. Which I feel is important. You can get caught up sometimes in the grandeur of marriage but as long as you can “get” the other person, even the aspects of them that are ingrained and will chap your ass until the day you leave this earth, if you can handle that too, then I believe you’re fine. They seem to understand that about each other which is nice to behold.
After the speeches, every age group hit the dance floor hard as is usually the way early on. Eventually though most people were winding down at the back of the room talking quietly, filing out, or standing outside to cool off. Shannon and I were the stalwarts among a few other second-winders. Shannon even turned down the first trip back to the cottage with those whose regular bedtime had long passed. “No ffffugging wayyyyy Lorraine, we’re going to party all niiiight!” She exclaimed to my mom (at least I think those were the words her tongue was trying to get around). It was funny 35 minutes later when she closed her eyes while sitting up and breathed into my shoulder something along the lines of “I’m just going to go lie down outside okay?” Fifteen minutes after that my dad came back to the reception to pick us up, just like after a Grade 8 dance.
We got our second wind after we got out of our big-girl clothes and transformed into fleece pajama bottoms and hooded sweatshirts and crawled into the king-sized bed laughing and talking until Shannon fell asleep mid-sentence. I haven’t had a sleepover in years. Especially with my little Shannon.
And with that the wedding had come to an end. The next day we’d be heading home. Shannon back to her kiddies and Ben, and me back to my mom’s to spend the next three days catching up with all my old friends.
So, I’ll end this post and will continue the rest of my trip in the next couple of days. Here are the photos for the people I know will be anxiously waiting for Andrea’s Crazy Ones. I mean, you have a professional photographer when you need to look normal. But for the times when you’re not normal, that’s what I’m for.
This is Riki, my brother and Heidi’s puppy.
But if you crop the photo like this, doesn’t he look like a bearded, scruffy man?
At the dinner rehearsal:
Moi et Auntie Diane.
(Auntie Cecilia on left, my nana on right)
Like, is my brother handsome or what?
After the ceremony:
Shannon and I may or may not have stolen a cupcake before it was cake time. But that was only after a little boy did first.
In my opinion, everyone needs an Auntie Carol…
It got a little raucous from this point on:
“I love youuuuu.”
Sleepy time. But first…
Shannon would look at this photo and say: “Oh my God, hammerrrred.”
“Lemme try your glasses on!” “Okay yeaaaa Andreaaa!”
Of Part I.