I kept thinking, as the days approached, that I was running out of time, that I really ought to get to Target and find something off the registry already--I didn't want to show up empty handed. I kept thinking it was a party in someone else's honor; I'm humbled by this kind of preparation and attention.
Kelly, my matron of honor, at The Fiance's mother's suggestion (and Chelsea's even more specific suggestion), arranged for a group of girls and the mothers to paint pottery in a suburb of the Twin Cities.
I worked on a beer stein for The Fiance, which turned out wobbly (I think I would fail elementary school art classes) in my panic as the minutes ticked away. I feel like I did when I made some lopsided piece of ceramics in school--bring it home, pawn it off on Dad, he'll set it on his desk until it breaks (then maybe he'll glue it together and keep it anyway). Such a sad little gift this stein will make.
But I did paint our new shared last name (soon to be) and our wedding date on the bottom, so when my kids see it, I can't even claim I painted the beer stein when I was seven, making excuses for the outside-the-lines coloring.
The mothers, on the other hand, painted some fabulous works of art. While I did nothing more than stamp a pair of wet leaves on, they painted designs from their own quick imaginations, my mother imitating the wrapping paper she bought and I admired, and The Fiance's mother making an excellent fall platter with gorgeous detailed leaves.
Despite this little bit of pressure and panic, we had a lovely time. We didn't, however, have enough time for the cake and the presents. Fortunately, this was a field trip shower melding into bachelorette party, so we took those goodies on the road (along with some delicious tortilla roll ups Kelly made).
We wound up at Green Mill with a waiter whose accent was lovely, whose voice was soothing, and whose tummy was able to also have cake, at Chris's adorable suggestion.
There were so many wonderful things for our home--so many sweet presents--the cast iron skillet with the tapioca and the recipe for cheesey bread, the cutting boards shaped like books (!), the soft, soft organic towels, the bamboo cutting board and bowl, the waste paper bin wrapped in magazine clippings, the crepe pan (one of the items I've been secretly anticipating from my registry!). Etc.
So much to be thankful for at this meal: this new family I will be marrying into, my own family, my family of friends. The ease at which these friends were able to converse and connect. The strange ways I hadn't realized some of my girl friends would enjoy each other, people who hadn't met before, but seemed to find comfortable conversation swiftly.
We had a swanky room in downtown Minneapolis (which thrilled Evonne, the surprise guest, who came all the way from Green Bay, who I haven't seen in a thousand years or more) (where Eireann, another surprise guest, and Jen also both joined us). Where Kelly decorated me like a Christmas tree, with a tiara and sash, with my own corsage (a condom with a miniature penis, how quaint) and wand.
And their own necklaces, candy penis shapes, which The Fiance tasted when I came back, and he claimed resembled stale Pez ("and I didn't even realize Pez could get stale").
And the fine details: the hand stamped maps and itinerary for each girl, in case we got lost.
The lesson on how to apply eye liner and eye shadow, how best to approach the mirror and how to make your blue eyes *pop*.
How best to rest your head upon your best friend's shoulder, a quick portrait before the night swallowed us in breathy motion and the sounds of heels on pavement.
The last of the Urtel wine, the last riesling, just a little under a year after we tasted other rieslings, a one year house warming party, the night I asked Angie and Chris to be bridesmaids, dressing them up in thrift store gowns.
The girls of the night, minus Eireann and Jen who joined us later: (top row: Emily, Angie, Chris. Bottom row: Kelly, me, Evonne.)
I can't even begin to really reflect and explore just how much these women mean to me, and the ones that would have come if they could: Kim, Mandy, Megan, Nikki, Chelsea, etc.
I know that bachelorette parties are supposed to be this rite of passage, where it is the last night out, where we get to be really wild (just ten pick up lines, to ten random people, all in front of the group of girls, which at first was a little embarrassing, but once I got into the swing of things, it was kind of fun and nice to see The Fiance's face get a wee cloud of jealousy as I explained the hitting-on process, and how one boy told me I was too pretty to get married--ha!--)
And the history here... one of the things I love is that so many girls I was very close to from the days of high school are still such an important part of my life: Kelly I've been best friends with since seventh grade; Chris and I met in eighth (though we didn't like each other, but once we were seniors, we were good friends and now, kindred spirits, I believe); Jen and my parents live two houses apart and though we did have a great locker blow out in ninth grade, we too have recovered; Mandy I've waxed on about how she disturbed me on the bus in eighth grade, and we have managed to be part of a mutating circle of friends since then; Kim was in on that first circle (called "The Herd" for our movement around school and in social situations as a group of five--exactly); Nikki I knew days after I moved to Green Bay, but we really managed to bond when we found ourselves dealing with the same kind of selfish and painful breakup our freshmen year of college.
And the new friendships that have stuck around: Emily is the most recent, but one of the most fierce, a colleague from This High School; Angie whose family is forever linked with our own, as her husband Lane is great friends with The Fiance and their dog Bear is best friends with Penelope and Chad, our fifth in this new herd, cannot be forgotten; Evonne, who I met through Jeff, who is a wonderful, serene person, who can be calming and enveloping all at the same time; Eireann who blushed at the pick up lines, tucked her necklace away, and tolerated our silliness just long enough for my heart to feel filled (and gave me the most gorgeous, most fabulous present).
I could bask and roll around in the memory of these people's company. Just looking at them makes me want to shout from the roof tops how lucky I feel to have them in my life. I! AM! LUCKY!
Not only do I get to marry one of the most fabulous men to ever grace this planet, but I also have this beautiful group of girl friends who compliment each other so well and do not ever all a moment to be dull. I love and appreciate each one of them in such a very different and unique way because they are all that--little pieces of sea glass, little shells on the beach, small treasures to hold in the palm of my heart.
And I loved that I seemed to have so many friends who were separate, but anticipated meeting each other, and hit it off so well. There was a kind of comfort in the conversation, a kind of ease, which makes sense, since they are all linked by me, but I didn't feel those awkward silences. (Of course, with Jen, I don't think a dull silence would survive--she is the queen of questions, asking whatever is on her mind, and I love her for it.)
I also was lucky enough to have these girls tolerate what may have been fairly boring backdrops for the downtown bar hopping. We went to Irish pubs, which I have a particular affinity for, and I know some of these girls wanted a little more booty shaking. But sitting down at a table and laughing, talking, telling stories, a pint between us--this is more my kind of thing.
And so much good conversation. Back at the hotel, we started to play Truth or Dare, as we had at Kelly's party, but it really just melded into Truth, and I learned all kinds of very, very interesting things about my friends that I will not divulge on this blog, of course (hey, mothers are reading, and besides, these secrets are best kept in that three am in the dark kind of way). Nothing horrifying, but all very honest and not at all modest.
Who needs modesty after all those pints anyway?
So thank you, dear, dear friends. Thank you for the night, for the memories, for being showered with love and wishes and patience. Thank you for what may come in the future too--I know that I have a thousand rocks, big, beautiful boulders (who are also small treasures, don't forget) on which to stand, if I ever need them. I think The Fiance have a great chance with friends like these, with hearts like these. You keep me warm and happy, all of you. Thank you.
15 hours ago