Four weddings and flash mob: Part 4/5

Wedding #4: Jon & Tim, October 12, 2013

What you need to know about Tim (on the right):  Tim and I met in 2010 in the Wicker Park Choral Singers…so not in IWU Co-Choir, but still in a choir.  He and Jon lived across the street from me, so they started giving me rides to choir and inviting me over for movie nights.  At one of these movie nights, Tim mixed me my very first Manhattan, and then quite a few more in the years after that.  He also introduced me to ice wine, explained that there are different kinds of gin, and stopped me from eating edamame shells in front of the host of a party.  I once accused him of being epicurean in his tastes, and he coyly replied, “thank you.”  Tim was, to be honest, a bit intimidating at first–a material scientist working on a physics PhD up at Northwestern, a talented musician, and one of those guys who legit knows a little bit about everything in a non-annoying way.  But after he imitated a cat stuck in a carry-on bag in an overhead plane compartment, I thought to myself, this is a guy I can get to know. (Sorry I told everyone you imitated a cat stuck in a carry-on bag in an overhead plane compartment, Tim.)

 

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What you need to know about Jon (on the left):  Jon and I also met in 2010 in WPCS.  When I met Jon, I had this impression of him as a no-nonsense lawyer who enjoyed fine wine, classical piano, and impeccably ironed shirts.  I was super awkward around him for about a year, before I came to realize, he’s actually just as weird as I am.  Another year after that, Tim took a job out in Oregon and Jon had to remain in Chicago for a year to finish up his own work.  We became roommates, and this was when I learned even more about the weird.  Yes, Jon does love ironing things, and he is a brilliant legal writer, but he’s also a zany, West-Wing junkie with a tendency to break out in impromptu scat singing and attack people with lint rollers (generally not at the same time).  He is also fiercely loyal and loving to all his friends, makes a killer spaghetti sauce, and never once made fun of my fears or concerns when we shared beers on the back porch and talked long into the night.

*   *   *

A question for those of you who are married: Was the wedding planning stressful?  Did you occasionally want to cry over costs, freak out about how many appointments you had to coordinate, or shove fabric swatches down your beloved’s throat when you couldn’t agree on the color of tablecloth?

The answer is probably “yes.”

Now, imagine going through that process when your fiance lives a four hour flight away from you.  You have to coordinate tastings around scheduled visits home, hold up all the swatches over Skype, and trust each other to make decisions separately with the knowledge that those decisions will still represent unity on the big day.

And imagine spending your waking hours living and breathing wedding, and then having to go to bed next to a photo on the night stand instead of curled up with the man you’re going to marry.

Yeah.

Let’s just say I would not have been able to hold myself together the way Tim and Jon did.  Not only did they manage long-distance, they planned a wedding long distance.  They planned a gorgeous wedding long distance.  And for their one year anniversary, I’m going to celebrate the day for them again.

Happy Anniversary!

Where to even start…

How about the venue?  Tim and Jon were married at the American College of Surgeons in downtown Chicago.  Although the sound of that might not immediately scream romance to you, let me tell you what–this is one of the coolest, most beautiful historic buildings around, and candlelight will soften an operating theater like you wouldn’t believe.

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I first saw the venue at the rehearsal, and, being a historian of medicine, I 100% did not even come close to acting like a normal person.  I wandered around reading plaques and wondering if there had ever been a lobotomy performed there, and then eventually came back to the world at hand, standing in for one of the attendants and checking out the podium where I would do my reading.

Let me tell you about this reading…

When Jon handed it to me to look over, I just about cried.  That was partially because I am a total sap any time I’m in the position to celebrate friendship.  I don’t make friends easily, so tangible reminders that I’ve managed to help build something made of trust and hugs are particularly meaningful to me.  It was also partially because this reading so perfectly represented them as a couple–as great companions both joyful and serious in purpose.  It especially speaks to Jon, I think, as the reading comes directly from a state supreme court.  Here it is in its entirety:

The following is from the opinion of the Massachusetts Supreme Court in Goodridge versus Department of Public Health:

Marriage is a vital social institution.  The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society.  For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits.  In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations.  Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.”  It is a “social institution of the highest importance.”

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry.  Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family.   “It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social project.”  Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.

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Momentous, indeed–right after the big announcement.

Following the ceremony, we were all ushered out onto a pavilion for cocktails and early autumn air.  As we milled about greeting friends and watching the city sparkle into night life, the ceremony space was converted into the reception and dinner area.  By the time we went back in, it was nearly unrecognizable.  The candles had been cleared away and replaced with warm fall oranges and burgundies, and the floor was ready for dancing, cake, DJs.

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To be fair, though, Tim has never *not* been ready for cake.

We spent the remainder of the evening, laughing, enjoying the photo booth, sipping champagne and martinis, and dancing like fools.  The food was fantastic–one of the niftiest ravioli dishes I’ve ever had.  And there was brandy on the pavilion and Madonna on the dance floor and absolute unfettered happiness just everywhere.

When I left for the night, I cruised up Lake Shore Drive in a taxi, windows down and ridiculous grin plastered across my face.  I felt so much then, and now, that I had been a part of something extraordinary.  I was thrilled to have celebrated their wedding day on the near-eve of marriage equality in Illinois.  I was thrilled to see how blissfully happy they were as a couple–after seven years still madly in love.  And I was thrilled to know that they would get to fly back to Portland together and share space, and time, and conversation without a computer screen between them.

*   *   *

So, on your one-year anniversary, guys, I want you to know that your wedding photos still summon up that grin.  I’m still honored to have been a part of your day.  In fact, I never removed my reading from the choir folder I used at the podium, so I’m reminded every time I go to sing that music brought me incredible friendship.

I want you to know that although I miss you both quite a lot sometimes, I am grateful that I found friends worth missing. (And that Jon isn’t around to see how wrinkled my shirts get.)

And, finally, I want you to know that I wish you nothing but the absolute best.  May your marriage continue to be filled with grace and laughter and charcuterie, and about a million shades of loveliness.

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(First portrait from Facebook; venue images from Google image search; lovely black and white photos from Rick Aguilar Studios.)

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Historian, novelist, musician, and imagination professional.

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