After I finished writing this post I noticed how long it ended up. Sorry. Apparently I’m long winded today…

I have debated many times on how to write this entry, or whether to write it at all. I could just talk about another wedding that I attended and show some photos, or I could go in depth about the emotions I felt in relation to this wedding. The emotional baggage I have isn’t melodramatic or life-altering by any means. Some may find it trivial or boring, but it was just one of those times in my life where I found myself  conflicted. Part of me grasps on to the past and doesn’t want to let go while the rest of me has moved on and is happy to reminisce from time to time. I was actually very happy with the part of me that had moved on, until, out of the blue, I received a phone call.

Most of us girls have one best friend when we are growing up. It’s the friend who became a memeber ofyour family and vice versa. My mom became her second mom, her mom became my second mom. She’s the friend with whom you were joined at the hip with and spent countless birthday parties and sleep-overs with. I count myself extremely lucky to have had three of thesefriends. I’ve written about two of them in this blog: Yvonne and Krista. The third, I haven’t mentioned. Leah and I met in tiny-tot swimming lessons when we were pre-school aged girls. Our moms became friends back then and remained that way for almost twenty years. Leah and I were joined at the hip through most of elementary school. Our younger sisters became best friends at one point too. In Jr High and High School I still counted Leah as one of my best friends even though our personalities were changing. When her mom, Debbie, got very sick, I tried my best to be there for her every way that I could. After we graduated from high school, I didn’t see Leah as often, even though our moms and sisters remained close. We ran with different circles of friends. She helped me get a job with the City of Fremont and we took a couple of jr college classes together, but our friendship had definately changed and I was having a hard time letting that go. I’m sure a therapist would tell me that I was in denial about growing up… or something.

Then Debbie passed away and I felt a hollowness that shook me more than I could ever fathom. Bill and I had been dating for almost a year when she died, and he was an emotional anchor for me when I needed it.  Life was hard for Leah afterwards with lots of disappointment and drama with her dad. I tried hard to maintain contact with her. I distinctly remember a frantic phone call from her one day. I was living with Grandma Reeves in Palo Alto and Leah was living in her dad’s house all alone since her dad and sibblings had moved to the Sacramento area. “Someone broke into my house last night and I’m afraid to sleep here alone, would you come over?” I was happy to skip a day of school to put her at ease. I brought over junk food and we watched romantic comedies all night. It felt like we were little girls again and it’s something that I will never forget.

Sometime in 2002, Leah fell on some hard times and lost her job. Days later, her dad decided to sell the house, and he gave her thirty days to move out. My parents were more than happy to take her in and she slept in my old bed sharing a room with Jackie. Somewhere in there she met and began dating Khari. At the time, I never got a chance to meet him, but Mom thought he was a really wonderful guy and a perfect match for Leah. She eventually stopped living at Mom and Dad’s house and only showed up to pick up her mail, when no one was home. She never moved her belongings out of their garage until I called her in 2005 threatening to give everything to Goodwill if she didn’t pick it up. She came by when Mom and Dad were on vacation in Italy and us kids were remodeling their kitchen. We chatted just like old times and she said she’d come by the next day and pick up more of her belongings. I never saw or heard from her again… until a few weeks ago.

Back then I did leave a couple of phone messages, and I sent her an email or two. But, I eventually gave up. I was hurt that I was part of such a one-sided relationship. But I was also finally convinced that I’d had enough. I wasn’t going to have our long history dictate my actions. If she wasn’t going to contribute to our friendship, then we weren’t going to have one. I’m old enough now that I nurture and cherish the very few friends that I have. But I also expect them to care for our friendship the same way.

Now, all of these emotions were stirred up again a few weeks ago when my phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number. When I listened to the message I immediately recognized Leah’s voice. She wanted to talk and catch up. She also wanted to know if I could make it to her wedding… in a week!

I knew that she was engaged. She still talks to Krista each once in a while and I’ve been able to know how she’s doing in life through Krista. Through Krista she knew that I got married last year. I didn’t try very hard to invite her. I asked a couple of people if they had her mailing address, but that was it. I honestly didn’t think she’d come. I had come to the conclusion that I would never see her again.

I spent a sleepless night debating whether or not to go to her wedding. I debated the issue with Bill and my mom. I emailed Kristen and I even posted on my wedding message board. Everyone asked some really constructive questions and they really helped me reach a decision.

-Do you feel obliged to go simply because of your history?
-She waited until the last minute to invite you, why couldn’t she call you when she mailed out invitations?
-Were you just an afterthought brought about by the emotional stress of her upcoming wedding?
-Why didn’t she invite the rest of your family?
-Will you regret not going?

In the end, I decided to go. I would regret it if I didn’t go and I decided to give things one last chance. I went to the wedding with no expectations of a rekindled friendship or empty promises to keep in touch. I finally got to meet Khari and see for myself just how much they’re made for each other.

After I talked to Krista about it, I learned that Krista was going to be the photographer! So, I became second shooter again. A few photos can be seen on Krista’s website: Krista Lucas Photography

First some ring shots. Leah and Khari got married at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden at Tilden Park. There is a beautiful grove of redwood trees surrounding a small ampitheater that provided a gorgeous location for a small wedding reception. …and some beautiful options for photographs of their rings.

Here you can really see the intricate design of Khari’s weddng band. I never got a chance to ask him what metal it was made from. It looked like copper, but I’m pretty sure it was either tungsten or titanium. Very lovely.

Here’s Leah with her brothers Nathan (on the left) and Russ. I can’t believe how tall they are! Nathan just graduated from high school and I think Russ just turned 21.

With her sister Kate, step-mom Linda, and dad Jim. Kate is the same age as Jackie.

With Krista.

Leah and Kate DIYed the bouquets the night before the wedding. Very beautiful.

Krista took this beautiful shot of the butterfly necklace that belonged to Debbie, and the locket Leah carried containing Debbie’s photo. We took these shots as quickly as we could because we were all tearing up.

The three of us before the ceremony.

Leah’s cousin Caroline dancing before the ceremony.

The musicians played beautifully while we all waited for the ceremony to start… which was a while.

The view from the spot where I was standing, waiting for the ceremony to start. The ampitheater is to my right. I should repost this photo much bigger…

A little goofy moment. Khari and his mom and just about to walk down the aisle. Leah’s sibblings and step-mom and behind giving me smiles and waves.

Leah and Khari had just one attendant each.

Exchanging rings.

Krista and I both had a difficult time with the lighting. It was just dim enough that the cameras wanted to use a flash. But the photos done with a flash give the impression that the ceremony was at night. A lot of my non-flash shots are blurry, but I like a few of them.

The reception was held just a few minutes away at The Brazilian Room. It’s a lovely banquet hall located at the top of a hill in Tilden Park.

The lawn at the Brazilian Room offers a lovely view of the hillside. The fog was rolling in at an alarming speed, and the temperature dropped drastically. But it was still a very pretty backdrop.

 

Dinner was good and we got a chance to take some family photos. This is a closeup shot while we were setting up Leah’s half of the family.

For their first dance, Leah and Khari danced to Alicia Keys’ No One. This was surprisingly emotional for me and I suddenly felt sad that Bill and I never had a first dance. Neither of us dances well and we didn’t have any room in between the tables at our wedding to dance, but I suddenly found myself regretting not making time/space for one. Oh well, I’ll make sure to dance when we renew our vows in ten years.

The cake was really delicious once you scraped off the fondant.

This shot really cracked me up.

On the completely off chance that Leah or Khari reads this blog, I hope they understand that I had a wonderful time and was honored to be in attendance despite the reservations I had. I hold no grudges and I’d be happy to hang out together when they return from their honeymoon. I believe they’ll be flying home from Hawaii the same day Bill and I fly to Hawaii. Congratulations!

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About wobetxela

Artist, mom, traveler, hiker, babywearer (for as long as they'll let me) and hobbyist photographer.
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4 Responses to

  1. kristalucas says:

    alex, that was a beautiful post – and i’m so glad that you decided to come. and that we’ve managed to keep in touch all these years. i hope you have a wonderful trip to hawaii and eat lots of pig for me! 😉 i can’t wait to see those photos…when you get back we’ll have to get together…though it might have to be here, since i’m hoping this baby will be here by then!! 🙂

  2. stebow says:

    I was moved and teary eyed during that post. Beautifully done. It was helpful to me to see everyone, though made me miss Deb all over again. I do hope the friendship can be saved.

  3. christao408 says:

    Very nice entry, Alex.  One of the most thought-provoking you’ve written.  First, though, props on the pictures, which turned out beautifully.  If you don’t like fondant (which is the best part of the cake) you should just package it up and mail it to me and I’ll eat it.  Lord knows, it will survive the journey because that’s just how durable the stuff is.
    Reflecting on your entry, I thought of certain friendships I’ve had in my life that have seemed very one-sided or that have gone through dramatic swings between being close and being out of contact.  From those experiences, I’ve developed a few beliefs about the nature of friendships and life.
    The first is that many, if not all, friendships are unequal.  One person gives more and the other person gets more.  I used to feel that this was very unfair.  While I still think that both parties should make some effort, I’ve come to believe that there may be some purpose behind it all. 
    Maybe it ties into something larger – reincarnation and knowing each other from previous lives? – but there are people in this life who we are here for, and others who are here for us.  It may be that in your relationship with Leah, that your role was to provide certain types of support when she needed it most.  She may never return the support in the same way.  Conversely, there may be other people who provide you with support when you need it most, but to whom you never really give a lot back.  It all balances out.  Whether it takes many lives for the accounts to be balanced or it happens all in the course of a single life, I do believe that it all balances out.
    The second belief is that the lifespan of a friendship stretches over a very long time and that long “dry spells” may occur in which you have no contact or minimal contact.  But good friendships can be rekindled.  They may not be the same as they were before, because all things change and grow, but the seed of the friendship, that connection that really started it all, will be able to adapt to new circumstances and situations.  I’ve had several close friends who, after losing touch for several years, I’ve been able to renew the friendships and have found them even closer than before.
    Hopefully for you and Leah, the dry spell is coming to an end and her coming back into contact and inviting you to her wedding is a sign that a new season has begun for your friendship.  If that is the case, nuture it and help it take root again, and it will continue to grow into something beautiful.
    Just the thoughts of your middle-aged cousin while he drinks his morning cafe au lait.

  4. bevduhon says:

    I agree with Chris’ first point wholeheartedly.  The friendship served its purpose then and there is yet more purpose behind this reunion.  Nothing is by chance Alex.  The insight alone you’ve gained from your reflections gives credence to purpose here, and I just wanted to say I’m proud of you, good call. 

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