Monday, November 5, 2012

A Wedding, A Hurricane, and Renewed NYC Vows

Photo Credit by the Brilliant Sara Moe

Photo Credit by the Brilliant Sara Moe
We did it! And when I say we, I don't just mean Mike and I got married, but I mean the collective we in our family and friends all helping us to make the most amazing day of our lives happen, not to mention, one hell of a party. A friend of mine who is engaged asked me after it was all over if I had any sage advice and the only thing I could tell her was that part of what made the day so special was that I really let myself be a girl. But what I really think I meant, was that I let myself "go big."  I have a tendency to think I'm not interested in being "big." I don't like the spotlight, I say. I don't like getting all gussied up, I say. I'm more comfortable in jeans and a NY Giants hoodie, I say. I say, I say, I say....I clean up pretty nice.

Me & Tara: the Kick-Ass MOH, and some party revelers
With the help of my best friends, including my amazing kick-ass Maid of Honor,  as well as a friend who patiently guided me daily from Park Slope, I went the full monty...or maybe the full monty found me. I got real with myself and asked what I really wanted, even if I didn't think I wanted it because I didn't think I could have it. And I got it all and so much more even if that meant that I wanted and NEEDED bridesmaids and two months before my wedding, I had two friends kind of enough to forgive my tardiness in asking them and hop on the wedding train. The day fell together like magic and so much of that was due in part to the leaps of faith we both took that it would just come together. I didn't see my bridesmaid dresses until the day of the wedding. We did everything over the internet sending pictures that showed up as different colors on different computer screens. But we kept saying, "It will all come together...and if it doesn't, no one will know." My wedding was far better than I could have ever dreamed, designed, or imagined. The day was filled with champagne toasts and primping and reggae and laughter with some of my oldest friends and new sister-in-law. 

The ceremony was perfect, from two friends who played our procession and recession songs (Longing to Belong by Eddie Vedder and I Want To Grow Old With You  by Adam Sandler) to our friend Hugh (the officiant) whose remarks were nothing short of electrifying to the readings we chose (Billy Crystal's final monologue in When Harry Met Sally  read by dear friend and fellow blogger daleboca and a poem called The Marriage  by Denise Levertov read by my brother) to the musical interlude Words and Music (by Sondre Lerche) performed by two of our most special friends, Carmen and Joe, to our vows that were written once and spoken straight from the heart. Our friends cheered us on and cried and laughed and made the entire ceremony unforgettable.

(Video credit by my awesome cousin Gilen)

The food, the cocktails, the dueling bridesmaid speech brilliantly executed by my incredibly talented bridesmaids. If you don't know @the818, you should, cause she is definitely the Kristen Wiig character, and she snapped an awesome picture of us on a Vespa. Check this out...

Dancing with Mike to Ziggy Marley's acoustic version of Love Is My Religion and then with my father to the Beach Boys' God Only Knows  interrupted by a two step to Garth Brooks are some of the moments I still can feel in my gut. 

And then the party...we came to get down, we saw to get down, we conquered getting down...

Photo Credit by the Brilliant Sara Moe
Photo Credit by the best damn florist and friend
a bride could ask for, Courtney
...while also getting a few photo booth shots along the way.

And then there was the after party at a bar across the cobblestone street, a convenience that made me fall in love with New York all over again. Only here can the momentum of an incredible night sweep you just steps away to yet another turn in the adventure.

Do you think we had a good time? I still have scabs over the blisters on my feet. 

Light finally breaking over Manhattan
The next day, Tara and Morgan informed us of Hurricane Sandy, which we had heard a little about but pretty much thought it was like storm Irene last August.  The city got a lot of rain, but ultimately, the Hurricane had been downgraded as was the damage. We joked about the media's coverage that basically said, We don't know where exactly it will hit or when but it will be massive. The Innkeeper at our honeymoon inn up in Woodstock called to tell us if we wanted to cancel we could and to keep in mind if we did come, they did not have a generator. Our first decision as a married couple...we decided it would be a good story so we boogied out of town and headed to the Hudson Valley. We honeymooned despite the tree that was ripped in half by the wind outside of our spa the next morning and when trees started to go down around our Inn, we switched rooms to make sure we were away from some of the bigger possibly weaker trees.  But we were still riding high from our wedding and in truth there was part of what was happening that was just impossible to look at (both emotionally and physically). We happily were tucked away with power coming in and out and our first romantic meal on our honeymoon was pasta cooked by the Innkeeper since the town lost power. By Tuesday, there was no wind and little rain, but power lines and trees were down, so roads were closed. Happy to have an extra day, we stayed up at Woodstock. But on Wednesday we made the trek back to New York and were jarred awake to the devastation the Hurricane brought to the city we call home.  We were lucky to come home to a heated apartment with electricity and internet and television only to be informed of the extent of the storm through heartbreaking images from Mike's childhood, a roller coaster from Seaside Heights swept out into the Atlantic, the Jersey Shore all but vanished. His family in Jersey was without power for a week, but everyone was safe and for the most part untouched. 

A lonely Halloween with @the818
Missing Skyline
Blackout of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn

Part of me wanted to look away from all of this, pass by the donation drop offs and volunteer sign ups in my neighborhood and just cling to the memories of my wedding just days before. But when I remembered we had almost chosen November 3rd as our date, I was overcome with gratitude but also heartbreak for the couple whose wedding was surely canceled this week. I felt grateful for my life and and my friends and family and my apartment and my big beautiful wedding that happened hours before the most devastating storm to ever hit New York and New Jersey made landfall. I picked up Morgan, my stranded bridesmaid, from Long Island who had to miss Halloween with her three-year old daughter and yet never once complained about being here for 10 days, the longest she had ever been away from her. We looked out at the blackout of lower Manhattan from the roof of my apartment building in silence, each taking in the moon and the eery quiet that should not have been. 

The next day, Morgan got the idea to visit Coney Island and see it for ourselves. We both had lived through the '94 Earthquake in Northridge, California and we both had experienced 9/11 together.  It seemed fitting that us two Valley girls would have to witness this together. So we walked through the looted and sludge covered streets of Coney Island as well as the boardwalk covered in sand. We talked to a shop owner who told us he hadn't seen water like this in all his 40 years doing business at Coney Island. He showed us the water levels in his garage. As we walked along the beach, we spotted a living room set sat in tact by the water. Whole backyards with kids toys and picnic sets were scattered along the shore. 

Four foot Water level
Rows of cars flooded, looted,
and this one was burned
Coney Island, Mega Whirl
Beach Closed
A living room set on the beach
Lights Out on the Verrazano
Sump pumps
Brighton Beach
Brighton Beach

Lost steps, Coney Island Boardwalk
Witness (the818)
We rode home in silence, exhausted and overwhelmed by what we had just taken in. The only help we saw were Con Edison workers and immigrants who were bargaining for hire to help clean up some of the more established businesses. We did not see many people, the boardwalk almost completely abandoned, but those we did see were talking with neighbors, or pulling out molded furniture. And some of the people were smoking cigarettes and laughing, looking at the bright side of things- they were all standing. Morgan admitted she felt bad to be leaving when there was so much need. After she left the next morning, Mike and I tried to sign up for volunteering to use our truck for donation drop offs in Red Hook, but there were so many volunteers already signed up, they sent us away after we gave them our phone number. We donated to food drives and cleaned out our closets for any clothing drives, but we also made a promise that although the volunteer needs are being met right now, in the future, we can't forget there will still be need and maybe that will be our time to contribute ourselves. We agreed that it was okay to still feel happy about our wedding but also be present and aware to what is happening all around us.  

Farmers Market, Brooklyn
I wish I could say the honeymoon isn't over, but in an ironic twist I'm glad to start our marriage in this way. While cleaning out clothes I overheard Mike call the plumber that services his work building just to see how he is since he is a resident of Staten Island. I felt so proud to be married to a man that thought of people very much outside of his private world and called just to see if they needed anything during this time.  As we walked through our Brooklyn neighborhood, I was proud to see donation drop offs at our park, our food co-op, and our farmers market as well as a Hurricane Relief bake sale run by children and their mothers down the street. I felt once again that beating love for New York and my fellow New Yorkers, be they transplants or homegrown, and even more importantly to be married to a Jersey Boy who has that same beating love for the family we often forget - our community. 
Food Drive at
Park Slope Food Co Op

What we have experienced in one week is the most romantic moment of our lives, the biggest celebration of our lives, complete loss and devastation and the coming together of a city that may do a lot of things wrong but always does one thing really well: heal. It hit me why I have always been attracted to this city, why I feel this gravitational pull to be here. New Yorkers rebuild.  Jersey Goes Strong. And that's not to say California does not. I saw that city rebuild itself twice in the 90s with the LA Riots and Northridge Earthquake.  Maybe the difference is that I feel like I really grew up in New York. Maybe it's that in a city so packed with people and so little space, you cannot help but be a part of it. You can't escape it and whether you want to or not, you will go through thick and thin together. To be a New Yorker, one must marry the city. And although we are in the midst of a huge tragedy, we are also at the dawn of a rebirth and what better way to start a marriage than be a part of that light.

Lights On, Long Island


daleboca said...

incredible post
awesome wedding
great pics

Lindsey said...

Thank you! These were some of the tamer pics!

Carmen said...

all of it

SteveB said...

What a wonderful, wonderful post. It looks like it was a great party and a memorable honeymoon. As a Garden State boy living in CA, it breaks my heart to see what happened in the storm, but I know they'll pull through.

Again -- heartiest congratulations!

Lindsey said...

Thanks, Steve. I didn't know you were a jersey boy! I'm a CA girl but I gotta a lot of love for Jersey folks.

SteveB said...

Yes -- I grew up in Camden and spent many many summers visiting places along the Shore.