Yours for a Year

One year ago today, I pulled up my window shade at around 8 am and saw the winter's first snow falling.  I looked over at sleeping Peter in a moment of total peace.  I sat up and finished writing out the love letters that would be read by our friends during our ceremony, and eventually nuzzled Peter awake to tell him that it was finally our wedding day (and that he was already running late).

At 10:30 my girlfriends arrived and turned our apartment into the ultimate girl-gathering, replete with endless snacks, vases of flowers from Dutch Flower Line and bottomless Veuve Clicquot.  We ran downstairs to the salon next door and prettied ourselves and then came back upstairs to have our faces put on. 

 

 In the meantime, Peter and his friends from highschool drank Budweiser in our suite at the Bowery Hotel and practiced their love letter readings:

Before I knew it, Peter was dispatched by his friends back across the street to our apartment.  This is the moment we saw eachother for the first time, as official bride and groom:

Peter and I stopped for a minute to enjoy the moment. Peter ate some fruit and snacked on the other delicious items my girlfriends had thrown together (being that Peter and his friends were limited to beer & peanuts at their own gathering).  We snapped a photo (don't the girls look stunning?), and then we headed off to Grand Central.

Grand Central is my favorite building in New York City.  There's just something so grand about it.  So it seemed like the perfect stop for a wedding moment, not framed in any particular time, a chance that maybe our kids would think we were cool when we were younger (not likely):

And then it was time to walk up the winding staircase at the Museum of the City of New York while the string ensemble played an arrangement of All You Need Is Love, by the Beatles.

Our friends read love letters by Ronald Reagan, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Beethoven.  And then a letter from me to Peter, and Peter to me.  We tried not to cry.

Federal Judge Richard Sullivan told us about the rules of love according to the wisdom of a Chinese Take-out menu (he had everyone in stitches), and asked us whether we'd promise love and cherish each other for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.  We each said, "I do."

After the ceremony, we were so excited we could barely make it back down the spiral staircase to begin the receiving line.  The string quartet struck up Viva la Vida by Coldplay just after our kiss.  During cocktail hour we all poked around in the exhibits and ate perfect little bites while we listened to the string quartet play everything from Chopin to the Beach Boys.  Then we headed upstairs for a family style dinner of skirt steak with chimichurri, seared sea bass, homemade pasta with winter vegetables and fresh lemon ricotta, and sunchoke salad.  They say brides don't eat on their wedding day, but I left full!

During dinner, we listened to speeches.  Peter told everyone he'd loved me since the moment he saw me, and he gave me a Certificate of Love at First Sight.

And here's what my Dad had to say:

"This wedding is a celebration of two people who complement each other so perfectly that I look forward to watching their lives together.  They are quite different as personalities but what they share is that special, vital, spark  - you can see it in their eyes – an ineffable sense of ­elan.  We all know Annie and Peter in one way or another or we would not be here - but let me tell you what I see in this couple as I watch them walk out of here and into their life together.

First, Annie –

I quit worrying about Annie on the day of her graduation from Junior High School.  I remember Annie on that day so vividly, in a yellow dress, having been given the opportunity as Student Council President to make a speech for the occasion.  I don't remember the speech, but I remember her level gaze, her seizing of the moment, the fact that this 8th grader was more articulate and seemed to know how to work the crowd better than any of the adults present.  And I remember the Superintendent of Schools, who as a guest at the ceremony was so snowed by Annie that he seemed to have a crush on her from that day until she graduated from high school.

Annie went on to be a leader in high school – especially in music and theater, and in sports where she was a captain of the Field Hockey and Lacrosse teams.  The Lacrosse story in particular sticks in my mind.  It was a new team, having been started only when Annie was a freshman.  During the time when she as a junior captained the team, it became competitive in its league in no small measure because the sense of team spirit was so ferociously high that it actually seemed to scare the school administration in our laid-back, leafy, exurban town.

I won't go point by point, but Annie went from there to graduate from college Summa Cum Laude/Phi Beta Kappa, found her way to Fordham Law School, and – no small feat these days – she went from Fordham to land a job in a major New York law firm.  And while she has gone from place to place and achievement to achievement, she has not left behind her past but has permitted each new step to widen her circle of lasting friendships.

I haven't got the depth of anecdotal stuff to say about Peter, but from the first day I met him, I have sensed in his eyes that same vital spark, that same calm intensity, that same elan that makes life an adventure instead of a forced march.

But Peter applies it a bit differently.  He reads the emotional landscape around him, and has a natural wisdom in saying or doing the right thing at the right moment.  And he has the long-term stamina of the long-distance runner.  I was incredibly impressed by his performance in the Marathon des Sables this past year, a super marathon in the desert that seemed to me to be beyond human endurance.

My wife Mary and I also were deeply touched when Peter took the occasion of Annie being away, to ride his motorcycle out to Redding to discuss his desire to marry our daughter.  He arrived on his classic Triumph bike with a pot of chrysanthemums – if you can imagine that.

And Peter, like Annie, knows how to depend upon, and be dependable to, a circle of lasting friends who are well represented here tonight.

For about half of us here assembled – and I'm talking about the older half – this marriage ceremony is a fond and even a wistful moment of looking back.  We older folk are thinking of these two people whom we have watched, nurtured and hoped great things for.  We jumble together a wide array of memories of how they arrived in our lives, and now have landed in this place, today, to set out on life's largest adventure.

For the other half of us – the younger half – it's not a moment to remember or reflect but to look forward.  And it's wonderful, to observe Annie's and Peter's wide circles of supportive friends - who merge now into a larger corps, and who not only envision the journey ahead for Annie and Peter,  but relish it in their own lives and want to share its unknown destinations with each other.

As a parent I might fret about where life's twisting road may take these two people whom we care about.  But when I look across this group of young people, when I look at Annie, and I look at Peter, I do not fret.  I see an elegance of self knowledge, of style, and of shared understanding with others that is truly notable.  And I see, in the relationship between Annie and Peter something even rarer, intensifying that vital spark to an incandescent level.

If I have advice, it is this.  Elan, you've got already.  But on a less visible and less public level it seems to me that you have something even rarer, and that is Love.  Love is something too rare to be bought, too valuable to lose – and yet so fragile that you must tend its delicate flowering every day.  And despite the risk you must expose it to the sunlight and freely share its benefits.  It is in the cause of Love that I dedicate you, Annie and Peter, to this marriage, and in benediction I offer you this poem by Swinburne:

If love were what the rose is, and I were like the leaf –

Our lives would grow together--  in sad or singing weather –

Blown fields or flowerful closes, green pleasure or grey grief;

-- If love were what the rose is, and I were like the leaf.

 

If I were what the words are, and love were like the tune –

With double sound and single - delight our lips would mingle,

With kisses glad as birds are, that get sweet rain at noon.

-- If I were what the words are, and love were like the tune.

 

If you were April's lady, and I were lord in May –

We’d throw with leaves for hours, and draw for days with flowers –

Till day like night were shady, and night were bright like day.

-- If you were April's lady, and I were lord in May.

 

If you were queen of pleasure, and I were king of pain –

We'd hunt down love together, Pluck out his flying-feather –

And teach his feet a measure, and find his mouth a rein.

My love, and my fond hopes for a Joyful life together, go out to you Annie and Peter."

And then Peter and I had our first dance to All I Gotta Do by the Beatles, and kept dancing to sixties music until 2am when we headed back to the Bowery Hotel with our closest friends for a nightcap, which lasted until 5.  So much for beauty sleep!

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary, Peter.  Everything good in my life I owe to you.  It's so fun reliving our wedding day and I can't wait to celebrate with you tonight.

x.

 

Postscript - You can read more about our wedding and how we met here: http://www.townandcountrymag.com/the-scene/weddings/annie-dean-peter-zai....

Stay tuned for more wedding themed posts this week!