Lawyer Daughter and I flew from Seatac to Tampa. We arrived at midnight and were met by Nancy, my second husband’s third wife — he had another one after Nancy and he is now dead. Nancy and I became good friends at the memorial gathering she arranged for him. But that is another story for another post.
We spent the night at Nancy’s house in Tampa and talked until about 2 in the morning. The next day, the wedding day, we got up at 8 and Nancy met us in the kitchen with coffee, tea and bacon. Then we set out for Gainesville, the site of the wedding. The weather was fine; the drive was easy. But LD, who always wants to look her best and always thinks there’s plenty of time, had an appointment with an unknown hairdresser at an unknown location at noon. The wedding was to be at 2:30.
We had directions to the bed and breakfast which we tried to follow with limited success; but we finally found it at about 12:15. LD dropped me off and went in search of the hairdresser, already late for her appointment.
The bed and breakfast was just delightful. If you ever need a place to stay in Gainesville, stay there. The property, called Magnolia Plantation, included a big Victorian house in the style of French second empire surrounded by shady grounds with towering live oaks hung with Spanish moss. Smaller cottages had been caretaker houses or outbuildings of the original estate. LD and I had a cottage with 2 bedrooms nestled in a little courtyard with a fountain and a high red brick wall.
It had a full kitchen and a pleasant sun-room and sitting room. It was tastefully furnished in the style of the period.
I dressed for the wedding and at 1:30 I called LD on her cell phone. She said she was in the middle of her hair-do. I decided to go to the wedding in a taxi and meet her there. The next problem was finding the wedding. The invitation said it was in the Vam York Theater but no address was given. Fortunately I had my laptop with me and was able to search it on the web. The phone book had no listing.
In time honored old lady fashion I arrived early. The Vam York Theater was the Gainesville Community Playhouse and was the place my granddaughter, Sarah, had met her future husband, Malik. I found the wedding party (minus groom) in the parking lot having pictures taken. It was to be a feather wedding (rather than a flower one). All the bouquets were made of feathers. Peacock feathers were prominent. The bridesmaids dressed in muted autumnal shades of satin — mauve, ochre and shimmering brown. Sarah wore a traditional white strapless wedding gown. It fitted her like a glove and her figure was perfect. Her long blond hair was adorned with a tulle veil and she carried a big bunch of feathers. There were a lot of junior bridesmaids and feather girls scrambling around the parking lot and its wooded environs, trying not to step on their satin and tulle dresses and tutu’s. I gave Sarah a hug and had my picture taken with her.
It came time for the wedding to begin but the mother of the bride, my daughter Clare and her husband, Jason, (who was to officiate) were late. They had come all the way from China a couple of weeks before and had largely organized (and paid for) the wedding. After some more milling about in the parking lot LD appeared looking lovely with her hair slightly more curly than when I had last seen her. We went into the auditorium to wait for the ceremony to begin.
The wedding was on the stage and had a sweetly theatrical quality. There were a few readings (a lovely Emily Dickenson poem and some verses from the Song of Solomon). Most of the marriage lines were written by Sarah and Malik. Jason, my son-in-law, made some jokes and then some serious remarks about the sanctity of marriage. Next they had a “Salt Covenant”. This is a new fashion in wedding ceremonies. Each family member has some salt and each in turn pours his salt into the common urn to symbolize the union of the 2 families. It was an interesting ritual, as each participant spoke of the meaning of pouring the salts together. The neck of the common urn was rather narrow so quite a lot of salt was spilled on the stage floor.
Then it was over and more pictures were taken in the lobby. I met the mother and father of the groom. She was a tall, elegant black woman — from the West Indies, I think; he considerably shorter than his wife, was in clerical garb since he is an Episcopalian priest. I talked to them some more at the reception and liked them a lot. They have promised to come out to Washington to visit.
The reception was out in the country under a big tent at the house of friends of the newly married couple. It was a clear and chilly evening. My granddaughter Katy (the one I took to China) found me a coat. The tent was in a field surrounded by grazing ponies and llamas. Clare’s ex husband, Joe, who had for a time been the step-father of the bride, was there with his wife, a professor at the University of Florida. The divorce had not been easy. I chatted with him for a while and remarked on how good it was to see everyone friendly together at this happy event. There was good food, music and dancing, but LD and I were both tired, and we went back to our luxurious B & B as soon as the toasts were made and the cake was cut.
We spent the next day in Gainesville, as we planned to cook a roast beef dinner for Clare and Jason and my grandson Nicky and his girlfriend Amanda. Ultimately we accomplished this, but it took some doing because we couldn’t locate people’s addresses and phone numbers. I spent time wandering the neighborhood of the B & B. It was in an old part of the city, near parks and the University. The owners of the B & B told me about how they started, many years ago, by renovating the big house which had been used by students and hippies. There were about 20 mattresses in the house and the leavings of many dogs. They had gutted the inside, but restored it, carefully preserving the woodwork and fireplaces. Gradually they had bought and improved other nearby houses and sold them to friends so that banners now proclaim this the Bed and Breakfast District.
LD took a bubble bath in the jetted tub.
We finally located our loved ones and made them a fine dinner in the B & B kitchen. We had roast beef (rib, good meat though we couldn’t find it on the bone which we think is better), mashed potatoes, gravy, Yorkshire pudding — a family must — copious salad. There was something for dessert but I don’t remember what because I don’t particularly like dessert and don’t eat it.
One of the best parts of staying at the B & B was getting to know people at breakfast which took place in the dining room of the big house. There were a lot of interesting people, mostly parents installing their kids in the University. I also met a lady, now in her 60’s who a few years before had gone back to school to get a degree in psychology and is now a practicing therapist. My most interesting encounter was just before we left to go back to Tampa. A tall, distinguished looking elderly gentleman came in carrying a book with him. The owner of the B & B said to him: “Good morning, Professor, what time is your talk on Holocaust novels?” He answered, and then he and I began to chat. I admitted that I avoid reading about the Holocaust because it was so terrible. He said he actually had felt the same way, and his expertise came about almost accidentally through being on some award committees. His real field was the 19th century English novel, and particularly Trollope! At this point LD said, “Oh, dear, now we’ll never get going.”
I spent a happy half hour with the professor. We talked about Mr Harding, Mrs Proudy, Mr. Slope, Phineas Finn, Lily Dale, the Duke and Duchess of Omnium, Dr. Thorne and many others. He wrote down the names of 2 novels I didn’t know about. I put them on my Kindle and am in the middle of the second one now.
Lawyer Daughter and I drove back to Tampa where we spent another day and a half with Nancy. Another post.