Friday, October 19, 2012

Wedding in Houston

Every time I go to Houston I am reminded how much I like this city. Of course in the course of trying to compliment their city, I managed to insult my Houston friends. "Houston gets a bad rap", I say, "But I like it!"

"Who says it gets a bad rap," demands Vickie, "why wouldn't you like Houston?"

Indeed, I think, why not. Houston is big, busy, beautiful, with great food and friendly people. It has gourgeous skyscrapers and historic districts, a beautiful baseball stadium, great shopping, streets lined with stately homes and peaceful parks with quiet bayous right in the city center.

Houston weather does leave something to be desired. It's amazingly humid, and even in late October it can get positively steamy. I get out of practice running in heat and humidity, so the one morning I ran was a bit of a shock.

I flew into Houston on Friday afternoon. My bag arrived without incident, and a good thing too, since my clothes for the wedding and all my stuff for the marathon in St. Louis next Sunday were in my checked bag. I got my rental car, turned on the GPS on my phone, and headed for downtown Houston, around 10 miles away.

I have known this group of lady friends now for close to 8 years. We met via a parent listserve at Trinity University in San Antonio, the school that Daniel attended for his freshman year. We initially bonded over the ups and downs of launching our children into the world, but it didn't take long for our friendships to grow far beyond our children. From bets on baseball, arguments about ice cream, from sharing the joys and sorrows of our lives, to learning to know and love people that are so very different in some ways, we have become a special group indeed.

Mary's daughter Erin was getting married this weekend. Someone said that Mary is the heart and soul of our group, and I agree. It was Mary that inspired many of our now famous institutions. The UPT dictionary of unusual phrases and misspellings that have become part of our shared history. The brooms used to sweep away obnoxious or undesirable people. The weekly chats via IM, and the chat summaries published for those that couldn't attend. The e-showers for daughters. All of these innovations were Mary's doing. We all love her so much!

There have been quite a few weddings in the past eight years, but for various reasons I have been unable to attend any of them, until now. When I heard that Erin was getting married, I knew that if there was any way I could go, I would.

I wasn't the only member of our group that felt like that. Of the 20 ladies in our group, counting Mary, 12 of us made it to Houston. In fact, a few of us had never actually met in person before. It was so exciting to finally meet Hilde and Kirsten. I had seen pictures, and talked to them on the phone, but that was all until I saw Hilde in the lobby of the hotel, and Kirsten at the church. With both of them it was like we had known each other for years...well, we have!

Most of the ladies live in Texas, so they were planning on arriving on Saturday, but since Hilde, Corry and I were all coming from far away, we all arrived on Friday. Vickie took Hilde and I out to dinner. She conveniently just happened to choose the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner was taking place, so Mary could "sneak" out for a bit and join her friends. I was just happy to be there, eating Tex Mex. We even got to meet Mary's husband Tom, a somewhat elusive figure, since he travels frequently for his job and is currently working out of Chicago. He is a very nice guy, talked to all these silly ladies and made us feel right at home.

After dinner we went to a bar owned by a friend of Mary's in a rather strange part of Houston. I know the bar was called the D and W, at least I think that was its name, but I really can't tell you any more about it, because I was just so very tired. Vickie and Hilde left to pick up Corry and Jeff at the airport, and Tom and Mary took pity on me and took me back to the hotel.

I slept the sleep of the dead that night, but woke up early, since I was still on eastern time. That's okay, because I decided it would be a good idea to do my last long run on Saturday instead of Sunday. That way I could relax the day after the wedding and not worry about meeting everyone for breakfast on time.

The Alan Parkway and a park with a bayou and a trail were right by the hotel. It was a very nice run. I ran 7 miles out and back, through the park and a neighborhood of beautiful Houston homes. By the time I returned to the hotel and showered it was pretty late, but some people were still having breakfast so it was okay.

After breakfast some people were having second thoughts about the shoes they had brought to wear to the wedding. It turns out that Macy's was having a great shoe sale, so off we went. I had no need for more shoes, but when did that ever stop me? I was pleased with the sparkly silver shoes I had brought to wear at the wedding, but you never know what you are going to find in a shoe department.

Macy's sale was 30% off if you bought 3 or more pairs of shoes. They let us pool our resources so we all got the discount. How cool was that? Corry and Vickie tried on wedding shoes, I don't remember what Hilde was trying on (sorry Hilde!) and I gravitated toward the boots, what else? I still seem to have a bit of a boot obsession going on. It was on hold during the summer, but cooler temperatures seem to have revived it. A pair of short brown suede boots made their way into my possession.

With my suitcase already very full I asked them if they could ship the boots to New Hampshire for me. They were happy to oblige, and not only that, by shipping them to New Hampshire the Texas sales tax w removed! I decided right then that anything I bought on this vacation would be shipped!

After completing our shopping expedition we walked back to the hotel, taking a slight detour to view the Houston light rail and the exterior of the church where the wedding would be held that evening. It was getting close to 2 pm and we needed to eat some lunch, but it seemed like all the places to eat in downtown Houston are closed on the weekends, so Vickie was kind enought to drive us to a nearby area where we ate at a very nice restaurant called Baba Yega's. A strange name but good food and a very eclectic atmosphere.

By the time we finished lunch it was getting time to head back to the hotel and start getting ready. More and more of our group was showing up. Ginia was to be my roommate that night so we headed up to our room and started getting ready.

My dress was a simple blue silk shift. It was loose and swayed nicely, and it was comfortable too. I had also bought some nice black stockings, which of COURSE I managed to run as I was putting them on! Same thing that happened to the stockings I wore to my high school reunion...just amazing, you can't take me anywhere. But unlike that time there was no time to run out and get a replacement pair. And it was a pretty big run too. What to do? Ginia to the rescue! She just happened to have some hairspray with her and suggested that I spray it on the end of the run so that it wouldn't spread. It worked!

We trooped down to the lobby and hopped on the darling trolley that took us to the church. The trolley was such a great idea. I had printed out all these maps, concerned about finding my way from the hotel to the church to the reception and back, but now that was unnecessary. The trolley took us to the church in nothing flat.

What a beautiful place of worship. The congregation sat in a semi circle, facing the pulpit and a dramatically colorful stained glass window. My group of ladies took up two pews. We were so busy admiring each other's dresses, shoes and jewelry, it took us a little bit to settle down and pay attention to the matter at hand.

Before too long, the bridesmaids and grooms came down the aisle, followed by the groom himself. The groom was so sweet. As Erin, the bride, came down the aisle he started crying, and cried off and on throughout the ceremony. The bride lent him her handkerchief and wiped away his tears. I was completely charmed.

Some of the other ladies commented later on the choice of hymns, but of course that meant nothing to me. I enjoyed the music which was beautifully performed by the organist and the soloist. The preacher was very personable and enthusiastic. I thought at first he must have been a friend of the couple, the way he spoke so knowingly about them. But, I think actually it was just his way.

Some people commented that the service was very long for a Methodist service, but it didn't seem very long at all to me, compared to the typical Jewish religious service! Soon enough the bride and groom were introduced as Mr. And Mrs. They turned and faced the congregation as man and wife. The tears had turned to broad smiles. I love weddings!

Now it was time to hop back on the trolley and head to reception, which was held at the top of One Shell Plaza. We were greeted at the entrance by hor devours and a much welcomed glass of wine. We found our tables, and got busy exploring our goodies and taking pictures of the lovely center pieces and each other. We had peacock feathers, chocolate, and more hor deovers to sample. It took awhile for the wedding party to arrive, but when they did it was great. I loved watching them dance together. They looked so happy.

Our dinners were delicious, steak medallions and grilled shrimp. There were asperagas and real mashed potatoes. In my current state of pre-marathon hunger I managed to eat every bite, and most of the wedding cake too.

Then the dancing began. Some of us ladies hung back. I know how silly I look when I dance, and I hadn't drunk near enough not to care. But Hilde had a plan and it was irrisitable, asking the dj to play "We Are Family" and dragging all of us out on the floor. And once she got me out there it was lots of fun!

I stayed up way past my bedtime, but eventually it was time to hop on the trolley one more time and make my way back to the hotel. I had a great time at this wedding, seeing friends and celebrating with them. It was great to be in Houston again.

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