I had a destination wedding of sorts. I was married in St. George, Utah - about 4.5 hours from my parent's house and about 45 minutes from Mitch's parents house - and spent the last few days preparing with my mom and grandmother in the house I now own.
I chose to get married in the same temple where my parents and maternal grandparents were married, which was the same place Mitch's parents were married. It seemed fitting and I somehow beleived the power of that generational connection would deepen the marriage bond.
I was given a couple of bridal showers in Salt Lake and felt overwhelmed by the genorosity of others, even those friends with whom there were still open wounds. The ward I never enjoyed and often resented as a teenager rallied to my mother's side and practically completed my registry at the old ZCMI and volunteered their time, efforts and creativity to assist with preparations for the extremely low-budget, yet elegant reception in Salt Lake.
I spent that final week of preparations moving into a new apartment in Cedar City -- to my disappointment -- the Village Inn, low, low budget student housing that was in fact a motel during the summer. I had assigned this apartment hunting task to Mitch (since he actually lived in the same town) and he procrastinated until this was the only thing left. A furnished motel suite that came with a dingy old love seat (complete with a 4 inch nail I later found in the cushion!), bright orange formica counter tops and a king size bed but no phone line. It was about as far from the south end of campus as one could get at that time before hitting the rodeo grounds and the freeway and felt absolutely isolated from all of campus life and the rest of the world for that matter with no phone line (and no cell phones yet).
Mitch and I also spent that final week putting together our wedding slideshow with his dad which we set to Chicago's You're The Inspiration and some theme song from Legends of the Fall (a movie I will never watch again since we saw it together). I also spent a great deal of time yelling at Mitch about the horrifying things his mother was attempting to thrust on me for the open house she insisted on hosting in Cedar City - where none of my family lived, none of my friends lived (school wouldn't start for another few days) and none of my parents' friends lived. While I agreed to letting her host (and pay for) this unnecessary party in the oversized church gym (how could I refuse if she was paying), allowed her to bully me into lavender tablecloths (my color was deep purple), acquisced to having the dreaded receiving line and reusing my soon-to-be sister-in-law's cast-off centerpieces from her July wedding, I absolutely stomped my foot down when she thrusted the horrifyingly tacky recycled backdrop from said sister-in-law's recent nuptials. You see, my mother-in-law to be was attempting July reception redux, only cheaper, shoddier and with less emotional interest in the actual outcome and overall aesthetic. She wanted me and my bridal party to stand in front of a giant 10 foot painted cut-out of the St. George temple.
In case you missed the complete vision of this let me expound on that as best I can with my limited words. The reception I did not want was being held on a basketball court with hardwood highly waxed floors, a smattering of folding tables with lavender (not purple) tablecloths, metal folding chairs and a smattering of people including my groom and me, my two bridesmaids, his two groomsmen, my parents, his parents and I believe my brother sometimes standing and greeting people as they walked in, in front of a GIANT cut-out of the building we were married in a few hours earlier. The very cut-out I had endlessly mocked just a couple of months earlier when I attended the wedding at which it was originally used (the wedding that was in a smaller, carpeted church multipurpose room with less lighting and more soft, personal touches). I should have called the wedding off that very minute. Instead, I compromised (as one is counseled to do in such situations) and agreed to the lesser evil of a white lattice-work thing that I believe was simply propped up against the wall under the basketball hoop with absolutely no adornments. And it looked even worse than I have described it with the fluorescent lights blaring at full power from the enormously high ceiling.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, we are still on pre-wedding events.
Once I compromised my wedding day away to the whims and wishes (and moods) of my in-laws, I was free to enjoy the gathering of my family in St. George. My mother's family is one of those large Mormon families that pulls together (generally under one roof) for major family events. By September 15th, the house was full of aunts, uncles, cousins and my former roommate Gretchen (who, with my sister, was my bridesmaid) along with most of my immediate family.
My brothers were the stragglers. My marriage at the fledgling age of 20 (I had graduated out of my teens shortly after the engagement) was wedging a decade or so of unnecessary years between me and my younger siblings who were all still living at home, not yet graduated from high school, overlapping friends and school acquaintences. They have many shared memories from those years to which I cannot relate - due to living away at college and then joining the adult world of marriage. It didn't help that my brothers never liked Mitch. Needless to say, my wedding was not high on their list of priorities in terms of how to spend a mid-September weekend. If asked, I believe one of my brothers would remind me of how he begrudgingly missed a football game for my wedding. They did not arrive in St. George until the wee hours of the morning long after most of us had gone to bed.
Speaking of beds, the night before my wedding was like a giant slumber party. After my final dress fitting, my mom and grandma rolled my waist-long hair in perm rods - PERM RODS! - before bed to give my hair the kind of curl with which it had rarely ever been acquainted before and never since. I slept in the pitch-black oversized bedroom on a waterbed with my sister. My then 4-year old cousin begged to sleep with me but her mother saved me from that restlessness at the last minute. But the room was far from being full yet. Gretchen slept on the roll-away bed and I know at least one, possibly two, other aunts were on the floor in that same room. I had the usual anxious nervousness one might expect the night before one's wedding day. Plus, I was sleeping on a head full of perm rods in a water bed with my sister - not the most comfortable of sleeping arrangements. I was also worried I would sleep in. That room is so dark it is impossible to know whether it is 2 pm or 2 am and I had to get up around 5 or 6 am to make it to temple at some excessively early hour.
(as a quick aside, if I manage to marry again, I refuse to get married at any hour with an "a.m." attached)
I tossed and turned until I woke up completely freaked out, thinking everyone had overslept. I picked my way around the sleeping bodies toward the bathroom until Gretchen whispered "what are you doing up?"
"Nobody woke me up! I'm going to be late!!" I replied in a frantic whisper.
Somehow she knew it was only 3 am and she told me this and urged me to go back to sleep. I decided to continue my path to the bathroom while I was up but opted to change course and use the main bathroom instead of the half-bath adjoining the room of sleepers. I walked into the kitchen and confirmed the hour with the clock over the stove and the absolute darkness beyond the sliding glass doors, then stepped around my brothers and cousins in sleeping bags scattered across the living room floor and entered the bathroom. The bright light was shocking after being so accustomed to the shadows of night. I blinked away most of the bleariness as I sat on the toilet staring at the bright pink rug ringing the base. As I began to focus, even without the aid of contacts or glasses which I need to see anything of detail past my fingertips, I saw hundreds of tiny red dots pouring out from under the rug and scampering across the bathroom floor. I lifted my feet onto tiptoe away from the edge of the rug and blinked again only to see in vivid clarity the tiny red dot of a body and ferocious pinchers being wielded from where I imagine its mouth would be. I silently squealed in horror, finished my business and rushed back to bed in fear.
A few hours later as my mother hustled me toward the shower, I paused outside the bathroom door and asked "what about the bugs? Has anyone told Grandma about the bugs?"
In shock and with concern my mother prompted "what bugs?" since bugs, especially ants, are not strangers in a dry, desert climate.
As I described the fearsome pests, I paused.
My mom started to giggle and I said "there aren't any bugs, are there."