THREE THINGS I LEARNED ON MY WEDDING DAY.

"Weddings are for EXPERIENCING!" Sure. But it's possible to learn something, too.
  1. People told me: “It’ll go by in a blur. Take time to breathe and enjoy it.”
    I received a ton of advice leading up to my wedding day, but this was repeated so often, I began to take it as gospel.
  2. As it turns out, my wedding was not a blur. Rather, it was like a dream – not the fleeting kind, leaving you with an impression of flying or hiding, but the kind where you are right there, in fourth grade again...
    you can hear the minute hand, the bell, the teacher shouting final homework instructions, the surge through the door – the scramble to the playground — so many details it seems to take all eight hours of the night.
  3. In the weeks after the wedding, I filled over forty pages of my journal with images, thoughts, and recollections. That’s a lot of pages, a lot of details.
    More elusive, however, has been the “mileage” of the experience.
  4. Experiences vs. “Mileage”
    As naive college freshmen, my best friend and I used to covet “mileage” – which to us, was some blend of experience and the perspective one earns by having the experience.
  5. Mile 1: Energy Spent Worrying is Wasted
    Heading into the wedding, I was warned: you have to expect and accept that something is going to go wrong.
  6. This struck me as sound advice, but it also put lots of crazy-thinking in my head. Late at night, I considered various disastrous scenarios:
    The Rabbi could be delayed – or his flight could be cancelled. A key friend or family member might be unable to make it due to sudden illness. A wine barrel will certainly explode and cover me in 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. Maybe I will forgetting the ketubah (marriage contract) in San Francisco, and not realize it until 10 minutes before the ceremony. The DJ could confused about the first dance, and rather than playing Bobby Darren’s “Beyond the Sea,” he he will play “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
  7. Sometimes it would keep me up, and I would lay on the sofa and plan through how I would handle inadvertently Rick-Rolling my own wedding.
    None of these scenarios came to fruition. In fact, there were no major problems. Unfortunately, whatever time and energy I spent worrying about those things won’t get rolled over to the next major event like unused cell-phone minutes. It’s gone.
  8. Mile 2: When things go wrong, it will be up to me to decide how to interpret them.
    Okay, so we had a few minor mishaps.
  9. My favorite: as I mentioned earlier, I hand calligraphed (yes, that’s a word) the traditional Hebrew marriage contract. It took about four months. I started over at least ten times, for errors as small as a smudged letter or a dimple in the paper. Towards the ketubah’s completion, a stray greasy onion got stuck on the parchment.
    An alchemical combination of cornstarch and white ink masked the stain, and from that point on, I treated the contract as if it were a priceless fragment of the Dead-Sea Scrolls. It stayed in a protective sleeve between two pieces of pristine parchment.
  10. Then, at the “tisch” (kind of a pre-ceremony toast-and-singing warm-up), a guest spilled water on the table. Somehow, it soaked up into the ketubah and smudged it. Yes, in the final moment before it was safely sealed into its frame for eternity, it got “damaged.”
    “Normal Me” would have disintegrated on the spot. But “Wedding Me” saw things differently. That smudge was made by a guest whom I love, during one of the most profound moments of my life. It’s as if, along with the witnesses’ signatures, Human Existence itself signed the ketubah: “remember this moment.”
  11. Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / there is a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in.
    Rabbi Leonard Cohen
  12. How many other things, in life, will break and shatter? How many other opportunities will I have to embrace the truth of the moment, shards and all, and value it above the “could-have-been” perfection which would have gone unremembered?
  13. Mile 3: Uncomfortable feelings will go away soon. Sooner than you think.
    Exhausted, spent, Gabi and I rode a guest-packed shuttle to our wedding-night vacation house. We were the last ones on the bus, miles from the city. The bus stopped in the darkness, and the driver said, “This is it.”
  14. But that wasn’t it. The guest house was a quarter-mile up a dark hill. The shuttle driver wouldn’t drive it. Or call for help. Or walk with us. Or stay with us to make sure we made it, dressed in our wedding clothes, carrying bags and a bouquet.
    After he drove away, and after @gabimoskowitz and I groused for a minute, we saw ourselves as if from the outside. We were climbing up a pitch black, sweaty, exhausting metaphor, the first of our married lives.
  15. Life bumps us in the ribs, constantly. But that moment is usually transitory. The feelings move on. The trick, for me, is to trust that it will.
    And if I learned that on my wedding day, it’s mileage for life.
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