Austin? Austin, Texas for your honeymoon?
Yea. And if you knew anything about me, you'd understand. But most people don't and I am absolutely fine with that.
We were married with a rubber chicken, stuffed pig and teddy bear present, had a wedding reception for friends that resembled a mini carnival complete with belly and burlesque dancers, magician, fortune teller, lion tamer and lion.
Somehow Austin doesn't seem all that out of the ordinary when put in proper context now does it? But I guess since I haven't even talked about any of this or that in awhile... most people are kinda clueless to the random order of my personal universe (yet shouldn't be, since chaos has always abounded).
To understand, however, one must gather the entire situation in one's glance.
My tiny Armenian grandmother's body has decided it is time for it and her to pass from this earthly space and since then there has been a lot of things in my life up for evaluation. Thinking: it's what's for dinner (breakfast and lunch). Of all my grandparents, her passing is affecting me the most. Maybe it's my age. Perhaps. Maybe it's how involved I am. Perhaps that as well. But I think it has more to do with who she is, where she came from, and what she has shown me about life and living. That smile... she is the light of the world. Truly. My sister and I are taking enormous lengths to care for her these last days; we'd do anything she asked right now, illustrated in part when my sister got a personal call from the nurse last week. My tiny Armenian grandmother had a dream about lobster (of all things) and wanted to eat some really bad, I mean, REALLY bad, enough to have a nurse summoned and directed pronto. So what did my sister do immediately? Get in line at Red Lobster. And everybody said: AMEN.
Genies: we get to fucking be them - SCORE!!!
When it came time to get our marriage license a few weeks ago, the majority of my time revolved around personal reflection (when outside of the hospital), having begun on this journey with my tiny Armenian grandmother the beginning of July. At the counter, the woman joked about whether or not we wanted to have the ceremony performed right then and there. We had been planning a nice evening at the beach with our family to exchange rings privately on the sand; simple, elegant, quiet.
He looked at me, bags under my eyes, dreary from lack of sleep, emotionally raw from what had been occurring with her just that day, not to mention that cloudy week. I looked at him, a big smile on his face.
I did. I have never wanted anything more in the universe. It occurred to me that it didn't matter, the place or the time. What was important was the commitment and I was committed, absolutely.
Straight out of a David Lynch telegram meets Howdy Doody oration with a sprinkle of Teletubbies infomercial, they marched us back to this tiny room with white curtains and an arch. The officiant, a short black woman with a huge smile, beamed at us, "I just love weddings," she said.
"Hold on, " said her assistant, an even shorter white woman who appeared to be not only a coworker but most likely a very good friend. She bolted from the room and returned with 3 things: A rubber chicken, a teddy bear, and a stuffed pig. My husband to be, scrunched his face, a mix of total manic confusion and what appeared to be absolute horror.
The two ladies laughed and one immediately got the impression, this schtick was a very old hat. The co-worker holding our "witnesses" bounced up and down and squeezed the rubber chicken, causing noises resembling a barnyard to fill the room.
Fucking awesome. This. Is. My. Life.
None of us could keep from laughing, except for my soon to be husband, whose face was still frozen, his brain unable to catch up with the fiasco now taking place in the white tulle encased Dungeon of Vows.
The entire ceremony was performed in this manner: cheering section squawking and snorting with every new line, our vows barely audible through the laughter at the complete and utter ridiculousness of the next 15 minutes.
We toasted next door with a Pabst Blue Ribbon and ordered some lunch to go. That night, we decided to go to dinner late where a friend was singing lead with a large band and backup singers. To a packed restaurant of more than 100 strangers and a few friends, he surprised us both by introducing us, upon arrival, as the new Mr. and Mrs. - the entire place going totally bonkers cheering. Late night, we did an Ouzo shot with my sister and the next evening my best friend showed up with a white bag of unbroken glass needing to be stomped, "Mazal Tov" and officially, we were now considered married.
It could not have been more perfect for us as a couple, this 48 hour progression of tornadic events.
And that's our story, this is how we were married. In the midst of tears, sorrow, sickness, lack of sleep, endless hospital visits dispersed throughout, we held our ray of sunshine, and laughed.
Weeks later, we still had our ceremony on the beach with family, the next night celebrated with friends mini carnival style, the day after took off for a week spent roaming the streets in Austin, Texas looking for art, music, and most importantly, a good giggly time. My grandmother taught me that happiness does not come from the places you visit, the money you spend, or the toys that you own. Today you might be a prince and tomorrow, a pauper, so best you are in the company of people who you can laugh with regardless.
It's not the where or the what, it's the who.
It's the smiles and the joy. The giggles. The fun. The life.
We cannot always choose the future but we can choose our attitude when living it.
Yesterday I saw my tiny Armenian grandmother at her worst; racked with pain, unable to breath very deeply, and waiting patiently for relief from a procedure to remove fluid from her ever growing prego-looking belly. I kneeled at her bedside and explained to her about the pain medication, which she had been refusing, and how it would help relieve a little of the discomfort until the doctor was able to see her that afternoon. She agreed to take it and I fed her a Vicoden by spoon with a tiny bit of applesauce, tears streaming down my face from the frustration of not being able to do much of anything other than rub her back, hold her hand and scream at doctors and nurses to expedite paperwork in her favor (it just never seems like enough). She swallowed the pill and then stuck out her tongue and closed her eyes, suddenly lying very still and quiet. She was playing dead and it took me a moment to realize before I began to laugh. We both did.
Today, a phoned in Genie request for lobster came again so for lunch I am bringing her a freshly steamed tail with lots of lemon. Like I said before... anything. Anything for that smile.
My life has changed drastically in the last month and I suspect it will continue to do so in the next few.
I don't know how often I will be able to write. To photograph. To create. Right now I am experiencing these last few lessons she has to give me. That smile knows more than any scholars book about the subject I have read in the last two decades. I will do good to remember that.
And to giggle, always.