To begin at the beginning, I'd arrived in town on Thursday night. I'd flown in over the mountains in the rain, and discovered that when you fly over a rainbow, troubles melt like lemon drops, high above the chimney tops... er, that the rainbow appears under your plane, with the two ends pointing heavenward. Jessica, also called jasper, Russ, Melanie and Kristen met me at the airport and Russ indulged my desire to drive past the Eclipse Aviation building on the way back home. Those guys are doing some seriously cool shit, the kind of cool shit I dream of doing one day.
That night we went to Gardunos, Russ's favorite place for New Mexican Food. Jessica and Russ discussed several options, and settled on Gardunos after Russ decided to make some comments about Texas Mexican food, and I told him that if he was going to talk shit, then he'd better bring the noise. Russ chose Garduno's as his single combat champion -- which means I have about a month to figure out who I want to do battle for me, as he and jessica are coming to austin for the austin city limits music festival in September. I made sure to order the same thing as Russ -- the Los Colores Enchiladas -- and I can accurately report that the Los Colores Enchiladas at Gardunos in Albuquerque can hang with any Mexican Food you'll find in Austin. They're not the best enchiladas I've ever had, but if a resident of this city told me that those were their favorite mexican dish, I wouldn't be forced to mock them in public. They were completely respectable, and I even ordered them again, when we took the rest of the Austin contingent to Gardunos on Sunday.
The rest of that night was spent drinking wine and stuffing the gift bags that each person found on their tables at the reception. I went to sleep on the couch, then transfered to the mattress in the computer room, where I slept until Brandon, Beth and Alex arrived, having driven straight through from Austin. We said hello, then slept for another few hours.
Friday was the rehearsal, and Jessica, Russ and I spent a little time blocking the ceremony, then we ran through it twice. It rained on us, my first experience with rain in the desert. I stood on the bridge across the UNM duck pond, felt the drops hit my skin, and I didn't get wet. I can't explain it any further than that.
Afterward, we retreated back to Jessica and Russ's house for the jasperghetti, the pasta feast/wine bibing which has become the traditional celebration whenever the austinites and jessica are in the same town. This time, it was cloaked in the guise of the rehearsal dinner, but we all knew better. The house was taken over by New Mexicans, and popular hip-hop made conversation difficult, so the austinites congregated on the driveway, telling stories from these early days of the diaspora. As the party got cranked up, we had the good fortune to meet Susanne, a lovely grey-haired lady whom Jessica knew from the bookstore where she works. As it turned out, Susanne is a former professor of Anthropology at George Washington University, who had gotten her masters and ph.d. at the University of New Mexico, and returned to Albuquerque when she retired. I took great pride in introducing her to all of my people, indicating their field of expertise and (if applicable) at which school they were currently pursuing their Ph.D. As a terminal baccalaureate degree-holder, it did make me feel a bit like a slacker. This feeling was alleviated somewhat when John went into his rant about how he was in awe of me, but that just means that I have to succeed in my plans in order to feel like I've earned equal intellectual respect. (For the record, I'm in awe of John -- he teaches high school math to lower-class kids in Lawrence, Mass., and hasn't gone insane. For my One True Brother in A.D.D., and faithful tag-team partner in the 'What-Do-You-Mean-You-Wouldn't-Prescribe-R
Sunday was the ceremony, and I spent the morning and early afternoon drinking coffee, pacing and writing my homily. When Jessica and Russ asked me to officiate their wedding ceremony, I agreed, then started wondering what I was going to say. I decided that I only knew one ultimately true thing about marriage, and so I talked about that. Actually, I spent a minute-and-a-half setting up a joke, the punchline of which was 'Be excellent to each other.' (and then sotto voce to the giggling bride and groom, 'Party on, dudes.') and another minute-and-a-half actually saying something serious. I'll post the speech when jasper and russ get back from their honeymoon, as it's saved in roughly the same form that I gave it on their computer, but suffice to say that if you've ever heard Jackie English speak at a wedding, then it sounded a lot like that -- only without the word's 'covenant' or 'Jesus'. The word God was mentioned, but only in the context of 'Oh, God, what have I gotten myself into'.
I was more nervous giving that speech than I have for any other save one -- I was more nervous giving the eulogy at my grandfather's funeral.
After I spoke, I held up the UT Honors Colloquium portfolio that I was using to keep everything together (on loan from jasper, as I never went to honors colloquium) and let Jessica and Russ read their vows to one another. They were spoken quietly, with thick throats and wide-eyed smiles, and I was the only other person who could hear them. jessica's father sam then read a prayer for peace, and jessica and russ gave each other the most immediately enthusiastic wedding kiss I've ever seen. That was my cue to announce, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, Jessica and Russell Bryant'. Russ was stunned for a split-second, then started hopping up and down ecstatically in his flame-print Chuck Taylors. They looked so cool with his tuxedo.
By the time the reception was over, and we got to the after-party, I was phyically and emotionally drained. I took some ritalin, and drank a beer or two, and slowly I came back to a functional mental state. I wandered outside and found that there were still a few live coals in the obsidian-stone barbeque pit. I started cracking kindling and blowing on the coals to make a fire. John came over with the lighter fluid, but I waved him away. I take my fire-building seriously. It's the first process that I learned to do systematically, rather than haphazardly and with all the energy I could muster. Soon we had a nice fire burning, made from the cedar logs that were stacked by the driveway. John was so impressed that he kept telling everyone who came outside about how I'd gotten some sticks together and blown on them, and all of a sudden there was fire. (I did mention the Maker's Mark, right? We'd been sampling it heavily.) This lead to my favorite quote for the weekend. "John: (to some guest of the afterparty who hadn't known me before the weekend) Mike is amazing, he can marry people and make fire. Liza: Yeah, he said they were married and then they were."
Jessica and Russ showed up around dawn with the marriage license which we'd all forgotten to sign. They stayed for a while, chatting in that shell-shocked, sleep-deprived way that makes sense if you've ever been married. They left after first light, and sometime thereafter, I too went to sleep.
The next day was easy going, as we recovered, meandered about, talked and waited for the time to go eat lunch and drive me to the airport. At lunch, I broke my glasses, so I got to practice not squinting while reading for the whole of the flight back to Austin. From the air, El Paso looks like a forgotten Las Vegas -- a grid of orange lights stretching out to the mountains, black on the horizon.
Mike Ford kindly picked me up from the airport in Austin, and took me home. I fell into bed with few second thoughts and no dreams.
It was the best weekend I've spent in quite a while, and I'm glad it was given to me.
It rained every day that I was in the desert.