Sunday, June 4, 2017

Fabulous Wedding Weekend

One of my dearest friends here in Frankfurt, Dalibor (aka, Dali) got married yesterday to his wife, Ricarda, which I was honored to be in attendance at. 

Ready to go and feeling snazzy in my outfit, I hopped on the train to save some money (as opposed to cabbing it to the celebration), making my way to their wedding site.  As I got off the train, the sky grew dark.  Thunder rumbling over head.  Armed with just my purse and camera and absolutely no umbrella, this was not a reassuring situation.  I was out in the middle of nowhere, fields stretching alongside of me on either side.  Making my way into and through a tiny German village, in which nearly all of the shops were closed.  The place was a ghost town.  Strange for a Saturday.  Anyway, I knew the wedding site was about a 7 minute walk from the train.  I can make it, I thought, taking a deep breath.  The rain will hold off for seven more minutes, I assured myself.

No sooner had I had this very thought then straight ahead, like something out of a science fiction movie, did I see a sheet of rain begin to fall, coming my way.  Milliseconds later, huge, fat raindrops in a drenching torrent were coming down over my head.  I ducked underneath the awning of a closed shop, swearing under my breath.  Even if I ran, I would be absolutely drenched by the time I made it to the wedding.  Camera in hand, zero room in my purse, wearing sky high heels, I realized I was in a bit of a pickle.

Looking left and right, feeling desperate and distressed, I rushed to the streets curb and stuck out my thumb.  A car driving past sending a sheet of water precariously close to where I stood.  Not my finest moment.  Attempting to hitch hike to a wedding.  Keepin it classy, eh? ;-)  But I felt at a loss for what to do.  No potential to buy an umbrella.  The entire town seemingly shut down.  The wedding site way to far for me to make it, even running, without ending up drenched.

I continued holding out my thumb for the next several cars that passed, knowing how totally nuts it was but not caring at that point.  At around the 8th car to come past (ish), I was shocked when he screeched to a halt and pulled over, rolling down his window.  I attempted to stutter in German, asking if he might give me a ride, gesturing in what I'm sure was a totally incomprehensible and goofy fashion in the direction of where I knew the wedding site was (just up the road, straight ahead).

"Are you going to the wedding?" he asked me in English. 

"Oh!  Yes, oh my gosh, are you???"  I asked him, surprised, hopeful.

"Yeah, hop in," he smiled.

My savior.  Awesome.  We drove up the street which took roughly 4 minutes to get to the wedding site (which, on foot, would have unquestionably been about 7 or 8 minutes.  The end result having been my ending up soaked).

I ran up the curving hill of a walkway in the rain to the building entrance.  Pushing open the door and moving inside.  Hair damp, slightly disheveled, glancing around and taking in the scene.  A group of people milled about, chatting, smiling, laughing, hugging.  Dali came over, embracing me and saying hello.  The photographer captured all of this, to my dismay.  I have no doubt I looked awful.  Like something akin to a drowned rat ;-)

I excused myself to the bathroom to do some damage control.  Then made my way back out to the wedding.

Several favorite moments from the day:

When Ricarda walked in at the start of the ceremony, I turned, craning my neck for a look at Dali.  One of my favorite things.  When the bride walks in, turning to look at the groom instead, to see the look on his face.  Never have I seen such an expression on this wonderful, warm hearted friend of mine.  He looked absolutely besotted.  Overflowing with love and awe.  His eyes red, tears streaming down his cheeks.  A huge grin on his face.  Gaze wide as he took her in.  This was incredibly moving and awesome to witness.

There was lots of laughter and sweet looks during the ceremony, during which the story of their relationship was recounted. 

Dali had asked me to give a speech during the ceremony.  One of three speakers.  Could I please write something, whatever I might wish to say, and be willing to stand up and say it during their ceremony, he asked mea few months ago.  I was honored, awed and thrilled to do so.

When called to the front, knees shaking, face flushing, I spoke of our first meeting nearly four years ago in a German English meetup group.  How, after our initial subsequent hang out one-on-one at the Frankfurt Christmas market, enjoying potato pancakes and gluhwein, he had gone on to become one of my closest friends here. 

"Whenever we meet, we talk about any manner of shared interests.  Food, photography, books, travel adventures, Harry Potter," I said, giving him a playful look.  "But, you know what he always talks about?  Every single time we meet?"  I asked, looking out into the audience. 

"Ricarda," I said, turning to look meaningfully at her.

I spoke about the way he regals me with details of their travel adventures.  Of whatever Christmas or birthday gift he is planning on getting her, so concerned and thoughtful about choosing the perfect thing, wanting it to be awesome.  Telling me about whatever fun thing they have done recently. 

"Its been clear to me," I said, "over the last three plus years of knowing Dali that these two love each other very much.  That they are a tightknit pair.  And are the closest of friends."

I looked at each of them as I spoke, holding their gazes.  Their eyes red, spilling over.  Causing my own eyes to fill.  This was a truly awesome moment.

"I can see it in the way he talks about her," I continued.  "In the photos he takes of her which adorn their walls and travel albums.  In the way he chooses gifts for her with utmost care.  I am honored to be here today celebrating that."

I paused, looking at each of them, then scanning the audience.  My knees trembling so hard I was worried I might fall over.

"The most ordinary of things can be made extraordinary by doing them with the right people," I said in closing.  Then walked back to my seat, shaking but feeling stellar.

The evening was spent eating, laughing and dancing.  I loved spending time with Yasmin and Carolin, two of Ricardas friends whom I have met on a handful of other occasions.  Whenever chatting with these two, I have the best time.  They are hilarious, open, easy to talk with, incredibly interesting, just fabulous women.  I like them very much.  I feel like there is a great click between us.

I danced with two of Ricardas friends from school (two fabulous young Spanish women).  I believe their names were Natalia and Elena.  Garrett, a colleague and friend of Dali's, was seated to my left during the reception.  I had great fun chatting with him.   

The wedding cake, baked by one of Ricardas best friends, Rebekka, was absolutely delectable.  The bottom layer a moist, rich chocolate cake with raspberries and chocolate cream frosting.  The middle layer a white cake with lavender cream.  And the top layer a carrot cake.  Wow.  It looked beautiful.  Simple, classic, with a rustic twist.  And just delicious.

The dancing was great.  A group of us, several times, dancing in a huge circle.  So much fun.  Lots of smiling and laughter. 

I also loved the moment when, at the end of the night I approached Dali who was sitting with his parents, just the three of them in the back of the reception hall.  The room was dark.  Most of the wedding out on the dance floor, having fun in the photo booth, or outside.  I asked if he might please introduce me to them?  (They only speak Czech.  No German nor English).  He did, in Czech of course.  There was a lot of warmth, smiling and hand touching in this sweet introduction as he mentioned to them who I was and the background and length of our friendship.  I really loved this.
What a fabulous day.  Really beautiful to witness.  A total blast.  I loved every second of it.

Carolin and Yasmin

Great friends :-D

Annnnnnnd...sneak peek into a brand spankin new, kind of crazy, totally awesome thing.

See anything different along the length of my arm...?  ;-p

Yes.  That absolutely is what you think it is ;-)  ;-)  ;-)

Stay tuned for the next blog entry, which will be exactly what it says, confirming what that is, a few more photos, as well as the story behind it.

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