Friday, March 14, 2014

Marrying & the Persistence of the Past

I am well into the long wedding weekend and just got back from the rehearsal dinner. My sister, Dianna, as always, has been a marvel of organizational ability. I have a printed schedule for the whole weekend, a shuttle bus that conveys the groom's side everywhere, my goodie bag upon my arrival chock a block with delectables.  My Dad was right when he said Dianna would have been the world's greatest cruise ship director.

The thing that has struck me so far on this trip is the power and persistence of memories. If we think the past is not always with us, we are deluding ourselves. I have met up with a lot of people here whom I have not seen in ten years or more. But what brings us together is a shared narrative. If we can grasp onto that tendril of memory from our shared past, we do have a connection, no matter how much time has gone by. I met Dianna's former neighbor Debbie whom I had not seen in over a decade. Her dog, Charlie, I loved when my own dog was just a pup.  Both dogs have been long gone but seeing one another, we could both experience those lost dogs together again. The most poignant shared memory was remembering my father with my nephew Darren. We both were on the edge of tears remembering our past together with him, especially a trip to Maine where my nephews would not eat lobster because it was like "having the steer rolled out, head and all, when you ordered a hamburger."  That observation was apt but did not stop me from eating my lobster when it came out head, claws and all.

Another aspect which I notice is how the former way of living continues to intersect with the current way of living. What I am referring to here is that our parents both came from small towns.  Then, after WW II, they and many others from their generation moved to the bigger cities. Their children, in turn, stayed in those cities or moved to even bigger ones. So the groom's family is from every big city imaginable: Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, and the like. The bride's family is all from a small town in Louisiana, which is not unlike our parents' towns of Ashtabula, Ohio and Westbrook, Maine. This is yet another way that the past and present continue to intersect. The melting pot that is America continues to pour us into the big pot again and again so that every way of life is reconstituted anew.

We are here to make another shared past that now we will all carry into the future with these new members of the family. What that future holds no one knows but one thing is certain, the past will continue to inform it.

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