25 years ago today, in a move of at best questionable judgment, Susan Gilbert married a scrawny geek from Texas.
The wedding was on her turf, in Preston, England, and all her friends and relatives came out. Aunts and uncles, cousins, and even her grandparents in what was probably their last major family outing.
Tons of family and friends from my side came as well, from all over the United States and Canada, from elsewhere in Europe. I think it was my grandmother’s last international trip.
Most of the guests stayed in the Tickled Trout Hotel on the banks of the River Ribble. (You really can’t make names like this up.)
The American guests were terribly impressed with how old the church was. It was from the 1800’s and was in fact a fairly new church by local standards; the church in the city centre has parts from the 1500’s and history back five centuries farther. The reception, though, was in a manor house that was several hundred years old, older than anything European in the New World, and that felt satisfyingly Olde Worlde to us gringos from over the pond.
The organist struggled something fearsome. The wedding was truly wonderful in almost every possible way. But the organist was another matter. The crazy thing is that no one but Susan and I heard it. When we mentioned it after the ceremony, people were like “No, the organist was great!” and we were like “Really, the organist sucked.”. The video later proved us right.
After threatening rain, the weather held the end, and we had a wonderful after-reception party at Sue’s parent’s house. People milling and chatting in the back garden, in the sun.
Nearly everybody stayed that night and came together again the next day for, of all things, a birthday party for me. Only after that last grand gathering did the bride and groom leave for our honeymoon, traveling first to Vienna and then to Budapest, where we had met four years earlier and fallen in love.
And now here we are, living in Minnesota with our crazy cool 20-year-old kid and a cat that projectile sheds. We are in the midst of repainting the house in colors at least two people independently described as gingerbread, but which we defiantly think of as Scandinavian. Our big anniversary present to ourselves is a new computer; apparently 25 is silicon in the modern universe.
Figuring out how to pack up our books is one of the big challenges of our upcoming sabbatical, and our big goal for the year is to make art together.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact it’s hard to imagine it any other way.
The common refrain from my family at the time was that Susan was the best thing that ever happened to me. 25 years later it’s still just as true.
Looking forward to another 25, dodgy knees and all :-)