Chapter One - Mouse in the House
E and I pulled out the stove the other night and plugged up holes in the wall with steel wool to stop the mice from getting in, because we think that's where they come from. Not that we have an infestation--we just get an explorer every now and then who takes a liking to our cupboards full of cookies. But there must have been a rogue mouse in the house when we did it, because there was definitely one in my room last night.
Of course I can never sleep the night before catching an early morning flight anyway, but around 2 a.m. I heard a mousetrap snap and that was it. The mouse, however, had not died and was still free, and from that moment on every slight creak, any twitch, squeak or rustle however miniscule was enough to make my eyes pop open and the lamp come on. I tossed and turned. I heard it chewing something under the bed, I swear, and I got out my flashlight. But the search was fruitless and sleep was impossible.
When I finally got up and got all ready to go to the airport, I put two loaded mousetraps in my room and plugged up the crack under the door. I know the mouse is in there, and when I get back it better be dead!
Chapter Two - Fly Away
Waiting for the bus, I studied the old belle-epoque architecture of 125th Street on a morning so foggy that the A on the Apollo sign blended right into the sky. The bus ride to the airport is so quick and convenient. It only takes about 35 minutes, and I get to see some cityscape. This time the bus passed right by the circus, which is in town, its pointy bright orange and yellow tents vivid against the gray of Queens. The bus filled with people on their way to the airport, to travel or to work. One young man looked straight out of the 60s, his hair slicked back and his dapper airline uniform. A couple conversed in an unknown Scandinavian language. One man with a plastic briefcase would almost exit the bus at every stop, but was consistently halted by the bus driver, who knew where he needed to go.
I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to get through security, walk around and look for the cheapest bottle of water, peruse the magazines, and become annoyed with a lady traveling to Cincinnati who seemed to be everywhere, complaining about how expensive her taxi ride was. "I've got the card, and I'm going to call the number," she told a little boy (her grandson?). "I don't believe it was 28 dollars from Roosevelt Island."
"Where's the information counter?" asked the little boy. "I have some questions I need to ask." The thought of what questions an 8-year old boy needed to ask the airport information desk staff made me chuckle out loud. That, and the young couple with a toddler. The dad was chasing the toddler around with a moist towlette saying, "Let's wash the swine flu off your hands," while the mom scolded him. "Be quiet!" she said, "You'll freak people out!"
The flight was quick and uneventful. I read Paste magazine and listened to new songs on my i-pod.
Chapter Three - Get Me To The Church On Time
No one was waiting for me at the airport. I called home and nobody answered, so I called my little sister's cell phone, and she woke up my brother, who came to get me. He arrived 40 minutes later with a tire in the back seat of the car. "We have to stop at Triangle Cycles!" he said, explaining the importance of getting the flat tire from his dirt-bike fixed. Skeptical, but appreciative that he had come to get me, I checked my watch. It was almost 12 and I needed to be in Oxford, an hour away, by 2 for the wedding. "Okay," I said, "but this better be quick."
Thirty minutes later I was still sitting in the passenger seat in the parking lot of Triangle Cycles, so I opened my suitcase, did my makeup, and changed into my fluffy little yellow dress in the bathroom of the motorcycle shop, much to the amusement of all the guys working there, despite my attempt to be inconspicuous. It didn't help matters when I accidentally set off the car alarm!
Quarter to one and we were finally almost on our way home. I commandeered the car, dropped brother off and just kept driving. Miraculously, I didn't get lost, or run off the road in my sleep-deprived wooziness, and arrived in Oxford right on time. I knew I was in a small southern town when I pulled up into the church overflow parking lot and there was a shirtless guy in overalls tinkering under the hood of his car. I asked him if it was okay to park where I was, not wanting a ticket, and he said he thought I'd be fine. "I'm thinking of goin' into that church to see what I can learn," he shared with me, pointing to a big blue bible on the roof of his car. "Well, there's a wedding going on," I said. "But I'm sure you're welcome to go in." And then I ran over to the church, passing the bridal party as they were preparing for the procession. I made it just in time, finding a seat a few minutes before the ceremony began.
Chapter Four - A Marriage Takes Place
I will post some pictures later, because I forgot to bring the thingy that lets me plug my camera card into my computer. I knew I was forgetting something!
Oxford is a darling town, with old Victorian houses, rusticating barns behind a quiet main street. It's churches are stately and well-kept, St. Stephen's Episcopal no exception. The small, non-air-conditioned chapel was filled with carved wooden pews between gorgeous leaded-glass windows depicting New Testament scenes from the life of Christ. A beautiful gothic archway of finely carved wood separated the pews from the altar and its various components. The pews were filled with Southern ladies in bright colored polka-dot dresses and straw hats, and Southern men in seersucker suits, hats on their laps. People fanned themselves with the program, and all eyes were on the back of the room, where the bridesmaids began to appear.
The bride wore her grandmother's satin wedding dress and long lace veil. She clung to her father's arm, holding back tears of joy, meeting the adoring eyes of her groom as she made her way down the aisle toward him. The ceremony began with a prayer, was filled with song, and ended with more prayers as the two knelt at the altar. I cried a little bit, it was so lovely. The part I liked most was singing. I've not been to many weddings, but I think this was the first one where the audience was required to burst into song. It reminded me of being in a musical, or what heaven might be like, where I'm sure people burst spontaneaously into songs of joy all the time.
The wedding was followed by a reception in the adjoining hall, and people lounged in the churchyard under the shade of a huge maple tree, enjoying the beautiful spring weather, drinking champagne and lemonade and eating cake and other treats. A mockingbird sat on a nearby fence singing and singing. I congratulated the bride and groom and their parents, mingled a bit, and then wended home, completely charmed by the whole thing. I'm so glad I came.
The rest of the day has been spent eating at Chick-fil-A, playing with the dogs, laying by the pool (watching an errant frog), smelling the roses and peonies, and taking a needed nap. My family is on their way home from South Carolina, so I've had a rare few hours home alone. But I'm exhausted, and my head hurts.