Perspective

I was at my brother in law’s wedding this weekend in Maryville, Tennessee.

My husband drove for about 13 hours from Miami with me and 4 of our kids—our 3 oldest and my little sister/oldest baby girl. (She’s 26 btw.) 💖

Most of the family was coming in, some driving, others flying, to join in celebrating Greg and Courtney’s special day.

FFW>> through the “Are we there yet’s?”, check-in, unpacking, bathing.

THE CABIN

We found ourselves at a beautiful cabin set in a quiet nippy wooded area of Maryville. A shallow river looped around the back of the picturesque cabin. A family of geese flew down and waded around in the chilly water, although it didn’t seem to bother them.

The BBQ was running hot, full of hot dogs, sausages and burgers. A bottle of Sazon Completo waited anxiously by the fresh unseasoned patties for Abuelo Gaby to spice things up.

Cousins and uncles grabbed beers, hogged the couch, watched basketball, and over analyzed the playoffs.

The kids built skyscrapers with dominoes; repeatedly colored out of the lines; giggled and yelled excitedly through a couple of rounds of UNO! with some of the older cousins. 

Wedding chatter filled the kitchen, as Tia’s prepped and cooked the feast for the Cuban themed rehearsal dinner for the next night, Lechon, congri, yucca, arroz con leche…

Yea, let’s fast forward a bit before I get hungrier.

FFW >> to the next day, unloading the car, set up, last minute stops at the liquor store and market, more loading and unloading, bathing and the prepping kids, aaaand we’re back!

THE REHEARSAL DINNER

This night, like many other traditional rehearsal dinners, would be the first time that most of our (Greg’s) family, met Courtney’s family. And let’s just say Tennessee and Cuba, I mean Miami, are pretty much worlds apart. 

It was a wonderful night though. Of course the Cubans suited up in their guayaberas, thank you VALSAN (Los Que vienen, No se Van… except for short weekend trips to Tennessee). Point is, we got the party going quickly.

The only empty tables were ours, because we were busy at the domino tables, getting mojitos at the bar, tootsie rolling on the dance floor (there was no candy involved), and exposing ourselves at the photo booth, I mean waiting for the instant pictures to expose themselves from the Fuji Instax camera. 

Lauren had thought carefully through the playlist, and it paid off because soon everyone was stomping on the dance floor, literally jumping off a small stage at the end of the hall and stomping the dance floor. 

But alas all good things must come to an end. And like every good party, when the liquor runs out, the guest run out, literally they run for the door. Im just kidding, but where did they go off to so quickly? 

FFW>> Clean up on aisle…EVERYWHERE.

THE WEDDING DAY

The next morning was a whirlwind of showering, makeup, white stockings that would be black in a couple of hours, dresses and heels. 

After failing to find film for my Fuji Instax camera at Walgreens (I swear I don’t get any bonuses for mentions O_o, camera and film sold at Walmart and Target.) we continued on to …
THE HOUSE IN THE WOODS

No one would be murdered there, as creepy as the name sounds, but I do have a shadow filled polaroid of the house to back up that initial sentiment. 

It was literally just that, a house IN the middle of the woods beside the Maryville College. Quiet & peaceful; lush greenery everywhere. The house was a classic white, 2-story, wood frame house. It smelled of eucalyptus and hospitality, and came complete with a creepy attic. 

Actually, it wasn’t that creepy at all. The would be menacing attic turned out to have the most perfectly awkward curvature of grey wall and atypical fluorescent lighting that became an impromptu backdrop for family photos. 

Cue the aunts and uncles and cousins and kids who took turns practicing their chin ups, and shoulder drops, before settling on final poses for pictures. Marta snapped away while the groomsmen and bridesmaids took traditional pictures outside with the bride and groom. Separately, of course. Can’t have the bride and groom spooking each other before the big moment. 

FFW>> After 367 pictures or more, depending on whether or not u count the ones deleted to make additional space, it was finally time to head to the church.

I DO. 

The ceremony was beautiful of course.
The music played. The Bible was read. She cried, he cried, we cried. Thank God for the boxes of tissues at the end of every aisle. Even Vicky my youngest sniffled and had to dab at the corners of her eyes; although it may have just been an allergic reaction to her flower girl bouquet. 

We lined up outside the church to send them off with a cheer in the traditional manner, except for the rice; we didn’t pelt them with anything except love and good wishes. They waved and drove off (circled the parking lot until most of the guests had left).
We took more family pictures before heading to the reception. That is really all that remains once we get back to the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.
THE HOUSE IN THE WOODS REVISITED

Fiesta, Fiesta.

The setup for the reception was perfection. The entire property immediately around the house, including the house was used in one way or another.

The cocktail hour was around the back of the house, which was actually at the front of the house when you drove up, so that was a little confusing. There was a delicious Biscuit, Bacon, Ham and Jam station, which was phenomenol. I mean it doesn’t just sound delicious; it was heaven.
There was a bar on each side of the house, obviously lots of people congregated there. The food was set up downstairs in the large main living space of the house. Low shelves lined the walls; antiques and old books scattered throughout.
The cake table was an old barrel! SO VINTAGE! And it was smack dab in the middle of the hallway torturing everyone who walked by.
At the rear, or should I say “front” of the property, you immediately came upon the dance floor surrounded by Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez’s table, guests tables, the DJ, a cigar smoking sitting area, and lots of space for kids to run and dance and play hide-and-seek.
Dinner was served, and shortly after it was time for the first, but not last, dance for the newly annointed Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez. Father/Daughter dance followed. And then mother and son graced the dance floor. She wrapped her arms around his tall shoulders, and looked up at him. He had looked up to her for so long. They smiled and laughed, reminisced.
Soon the dance floor would begin to fill. Flower girls twirling, bridesmaids twerking, laughter of friends and family, impromptu karaoke, and the flash of iphones and my Fuji instax camera. My kids took turns toting it around and blinding the guests, inadvertently cutting off peoples feet and or heads. Nevertheless, there still were many great shots.
FFW>> through hide and seek with the kids (mostly seeking), dodging ditches, and bug repellent.
I stood before the house near the edge of the dance floor. From this vantage point I could easily look around to spot my wandering kids, and catch a glimpse of my niece here and there. I watched my family-some chatting, a few spectators like me, but the majority were breaking it down, carefree on the dancefloor.
There’s something magical about weddings. Maybe it’s the idea of a new beginning, the dream of eternal love, endless possibilities, two people building a brighter future together.
Whatever it is, it brings people together, even if just for a short time.

I pulled up my cellphone to capture the moment, the angle was awful. I could only get the people who were right in front of me. Everyone was all cluttered together. You couldn’t see all the fun that was happening in the middle, or the people who were dancing in the back, barely staying on the edge of the dancefloor.
I needed to get higher.
I looked at the surrounding trees that towered above us. Yes, for a second I thought, if only I could get up in one of those trees.
I quickly discarded the idea but as I looked around me at the house, my eyes came upon the solution.
I walked into the house and straight up the wooden staircase. Just my luck, one of the rooms at the top of the steps had a small window that overlooked the dancefloor head on.
I unlocked the window and pushed up on it. Now someone had noticed me in the window.
They are on to me!
Just when I thought it wasn’t going to budge, the wood creaked and it slid open.
I leaned on the edge of the window and pulled up my iphone and everyone realized what I was up to! They started cheering and jumping and dancing even more!
Realizing what all the comotion was about behind them, one of the hired photographers sprinted up the stairs hoping to catch the same shot.
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Life is all about perspective.
You’ll notice I did some fast forwarding through this post (although it is STILL rather long).
You can sit around and look at all the things that annoy you; make lists of everything that is going wrong; nitpick at all the things that you are unhappy about; criticize others decisions; waste your time being negative; being a victim.
Or you can look for the positive; see other peoples joy around you and feed off of that; focus on being happy; doing good; spreading
good vibes and uplifting sentiments.
Taking pictures.
Sometimes your vision gets clouded. You have to separate yourself from a situation, and look up for a better perspective.

Construction

This weekend we attended a destination wedding in Colombia.

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We overcrowded a large chiva bus that drove us around town blasting music. There was dancing in the aisles, and much cheering each other on as we, unsanitarily, gulped whiskey from a bottle we passed around; several bottles, actually. We wore printed straw party hats and colorful thematic necklaces with traditional Colombian designs—elephant masks & bull heads.

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I watched a friend’s husband as he gazed at her from across the torn leather seats of the chiva bus. At some point during the excitement of cheering, dancing and exchanging saliva and liquor, they had been separated.

He searched for her through the people dancing and drinking in the aisle. She didn’t notice him staring so earnestly at her. He smiled. Maybe it was partly his loins that yearned for her. After all, the next night he would jokingly hump our table at the reception after a little borrachera from one too many drinks and cigars. But right now, it was his eyes that smiled, admiring her beauty as she laughed and clapped at those around her.

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We held tight to the champagne bottle bubble favors the coordinator had handed us at the door of the church. We waited excitedly for the moment we could start blowing bubbles. Not so much because it meant our two friends were now united forever by GOD, but because blowing bubbles is fun, Damn it! A few of my friends, okay just one of them, innocently blew bubbles into the aisle before it was “time”. What a rebel! We laughed.

The clear christmas lights adorning the white rose and hydrangea arrangements along the aisle, shone hopefully through the tiny spheres that drifted above our heads.

We listened intently as the happy couple repeated their vows to each other sweetly. The groom stuttered nervously as he said,”Fi.. Fide.. Fi…Fi… Fidelidad.

I think we all wanted to shout the word as he stumbled through it. Fidelity is probably not the part of your vows you want to falter on, but it was innocent nerves.

His bride sailed through her vows seamlessly, but we aren’t gonna read into that. 😉

******

Later, I watched my newly wed friends on the dance floor. The bride smiled affectionately as she sang to her husband. All eyes were on them as they belted romantic lyrics to each other, spinning each other around, sometimes fast, sometimes slow; at arms length, then real close. They saw only each other.

They danced throughout the night; and always, love danced in their eyes.

******

Another friend, overjoyed for the happy couple, chose Patron for her celebratory toast(s). Her other half watched as she poured another glass on the rocks, then swayed her way to the dance floor where she and other friends danced energetically.

He reveled in how she enjoyed herself—dancing, laughing and taking pictures.

Did she have a bit too much tequila? Maybe.

But he never said a word; he never flinched; he never grimaced as she teeter tottered across the dance floor to use the bathroom. But, he was there to help walk her to their room, to take care of her in sickness, in hangover, and in health.

******

Me and my better half sat together most of the night. I’m not big on dancing in general; the fact that 95% of the music was salsa, merengue or other Latin beat, didn’t help.

A chicken with its head cut off has more rhythm than I do.

We shared a celebratory cigar on a balcony just outside of the reception hall. (I took 3 puffs. Spicy is all I have to say. Mouth on FIRE! Adventurous moment over.)

We were alone.

We chatted and gossiped. We laughed and flirted. Looked at each other, looked away. We held hands, we held each other. We kissed.

We didn’t stare off into the sunset. The view was mainly building sites that had just broken ground; other edifices, only 3 to 4 stories into the process; and some, just sites sectioned off for future use.

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Love, like construction, changes and grows; just never stop building.