Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Friday Fun

We’re going to have to do Cousin Mara’s wedding day-by-day, not because I really have all that much to write about, not because I want to stretch this out, but because I’m not mentally capable of regurgitating so much hate and insult all at once.

Friday was the rehearsal dinner, which my family, Aunt Marie’s family and Grandma and Grandpa were all invited to, despite that ugliness that was spewed at all of us in May. While Grandma and Grandpa committed themselves to all of the wedding hoopla, the rest of us remained undecided about the rehearsal dinner. On one hand, you know that you’re family and you should go; on the other hand, you have a strong feeling that you were invited more for show than for the actual desiring of your attendance.

After much deliberation, it was decided that, in addition to the grandparents, my cousin, Emma (who is 16 and was very excited about the family wedding despite witnessing Sunday Bloody Sunday), my mom, Meg and I would represent the rest of the family. My dad, Anna and my uncle had to work on Friday – and Aunt Marie simply didn’t want to go.

Mom, Emma and I left on Friday morning; Meg was meeting us in Chicago (she’d been visiting with her roommate elsewhere in the Midwest).

The drive was surprisingly speedy – interrupted only by a speedy stop at a Panera Bread that is right off of I-94 on the west side of the state. [I would like to interrupt this blog to personally thank God for Panera Breads, especially those conveniently located at the bottom of an exit ramp. It was incredibly refreshing, and very supportive to my mom’s diet choices, to enjoy a road trip meal that didn’t leave me feeling gross at its completion.]

We got to our hotel – a cute, boutique, European-style place – around 1:30 pm. Unsurprisingly, our room wasn’t yet ready. We dropped the car off with valet, got our luggage stowed and trekked off into the city. We wandered around aimlessly, never straying far from our hotel in the shadows of the Hancock building. At 2:45 pm, knowing Meg was minutes away from arriving, we attempted to check into our hotel room again.

Denied. For the second time. Because we were 15 minutes ahead of the guaranteed check-in time.

Very impressive customer service.

Instead of getting settled in our room, we sat outside the hotel and waited for Meg.


We never ran into any of the players, who were there preparing for their game against Brazil at Soldier Field next weekend, but we had high hopes.

Eventually, we got our room. We also got our Meggie a sandwich (she was hungry and very crabby) and then we got to the business of beautification. Even though all of us would insist that, for us, beautification comes naturally.

Oh. And on our way up to the hotel room after The Great Sandwich Expedition, we see Aunt Louise, Uncle Ed and Evan in the hotel lobby. What do we do? Sprint to the elevator bank. That’s when I knew how bad this was. When I felt my mom’s terror at the prospect of speaking to her sister.

The rehearsal dinner was at 6:00 pm at a restaurant that was about a five-minute walk from our hotel (also the hotel for the U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM. Did I mention that they were staying at my hotel?). The actual rehearsal was earlier in the day. So glad I wasn’t expected to sit through that crap.

We’re among the first to the rehearsal dinner. Meg, Emma and I stake our claim at our preferred table; Mom, Grandma and Grandpa meet the groom’s very warm, very normal parents. We mill about, heavy with anticipation.

Uncle Ed asks me how I’m doing. “I’m fine,” I reply. My eyes dart to Meg and Emma, who are making a beeline for the appetizers. “The girls are hungry,” I say, awkwardly. Our conversation ends at that.

Meg and Emma sit at a high top table by the bar. Aunt Louise joins them. She makes meaningless small talk, but it appears that she is really trying. I sit down, as does my mother. They pretend that everything is okay.

Everything, of course, is not okay. Not when Uncle Ed hugs my mom and pretends he is happy to see her. Not when Evan ignores our presence.

Mara, the bride, is just as she always is: gracious and sweet and beautiful. She is the only member of her family that I can stand to look at, to be around.

In hindsight, I am glad that we went to the rehearsal dinner. It was the only opportunity we had to spend time with Mara. And the time we spent with Mara – whose happiness was palpable – was the only part of the weekend that made it worth it.

Anna stopped by the rehearsal dinner when she got in. Meg, Anna and I finished our night with a martini; we giggled our way back to the hotel.

We did not speak of our dread.


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