A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

By the time you hit 40licious, you collect a lot. You have a house and head full of books and recipes and stories and homespun remedies (Off the top of my head, I remember that slug slime helps soothe nettle burn. Look for the cure right next to the problem. Which works in other situations too). You know obscure Broadway show lyrics and enough trivia to win trips to Turks & Caicos on game shows.  But mostly, you’ve collected people. Lots of amazing, big-hearted, funny souls who have made your journey on this earth so darn delightful, and easier and meaningful.

And then sometimes — it might take until you are WELL INTO your 40liciousness or beyond — you find someone who is so big-hearted and funny and lovely and helpful and sexy and fun that you just have to join up lives with them and walk your paths together, forever.

Steve proposed on my birthday, and the very next morning, I went to Japan for 10 days. We didn’t have a lot of time to do any of the fun canoodling engagement things, whatever they are, right away. When I came back, the first order was to recover from jetlag of a land 17 hours ahead. Then it was to think about the wedding.

What will it feel like, smell like, taste like? Who will be there? I don’t care about decorations, or party favors, or his-n-her engraved champagne flutes. Since forever, I’ve wanted to walk down the aisle to Pachalbel’s Canon in D, and hear the Beatles’ “In My Life” for the first dance. And I want an amazing dress. And to never have to limit our guest list.

The original idea of just getting 300 of our closest friends to the beach quickly disappeared after each site required numerous deposits and permits and then we thought it’s just easier to do it with a beachfront hotel and have them arrange everything … until we saw that most places charge $8,000 just to step foot in the door. And maybe throw in some lemon water. Eight. Thousand. Dollars.

And then our small wedding up in Lilliwaup grew as I tallied at least 100 people in my family alone, too much for the 77-person Lilliwaup Community Center, where my father and his brothers attended kindergarten in a one-room school house. It is also the site where we had my father’s wake, and pretty much every other wake and celebration in between.

We thought about Sonoma, a place we both love, and talked with some well-meaning hippies who run a wine-country retreat center.  Which turned out to be even too funky for us (and you’re talking about a girl who lived off the grid in a tiny cabin, and peed in a tomato can for five years).

And during our long Easter flight delay at SFO, with the rain pelting down outside and planes coming and going without us, our plan came together. We were invited to wed in a place we both love, hosted by people who mean so much to us. A place we visited that’s in between what both of us consider home. A place where rolling hills kiss faraway mountains; where vineyards erupt in passions of purple; where  horses nearly bust out of their own skin, they are so ready to race.

We have found our spot and our date. And I’ve told anyone, regardless of age, sex, race or inspiration, who wants to be a flower girl that she can. We’re up to about five now. And we will gallop off into our future, with our families and friends at our backs. And I will wear cowboy boots with my dress.

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Vanessa McGradyA Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Comments 6

  1. dcawadam

    Wow! Can’t wait to hear where this place is. Can I move there? FYI, Don and I have been known to sing at weddings. Just saying…

  2. 40licious

    Yay! I was actually hoping we could ALL move there and do a commune kind of thing.

    Hmmmmmm … we can ALWAYS use more singers! I will let Steve know, as he is in charge of the music … I vote for THE BOYS!

  3. John B

    Yes, as Don says: THIS is a POST!

    Congratulations to you both, and I really like the cowboy boots/wedding dress juxtaposition.

    Mazel tov!

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