Tuesday, May 10, 2011

3rd Wheels and Bicycles.

I should start this blog by saying that I am a professional third wheel. And I have to say... at this point I'm kinda proud of it. I've been practicing since high school since I was friends with Amber Perkins (who was super hot and had new boyfriends all the time), and I feel like a pro. Ally, Greg, Cory, and I had planned to tour around Italy and Ireland together. That's 4 people, for all you non-math types. But, Cory called in March and said he couldn't make it anymore. "That's fine," I thought, "cause Ally and Greg seem pretty fun and easy to be around." Plus, they were just dating, so that seemed pretty non-threatening. And then there were 3.

5 days before I'm planning to meet up with them in Italy. The morning after Lani's "Hen Party" (British bachelorette sha-bang) in London, I called Ally to touch base. "I have something to tell you..."  in that voice where you know that either a) someone is pregnant b) someone is getting married or c) someone is dead. Honestly, I had no idea which one it would be (although I was pretty sure that a) was not the answer. ha.)!

"We got engaged last night in Rome."

My first thought was a flashback to that little girl in Father of the Bride at the dinner table: "Daddy, I met a man in Rome and we're getting married." 

I was totally shocked! I mean, they're only 20 and have only been dating about 8 months... definitely not the "normal" timeline for these kinds of things. But "normal" isn't always best and I have to say that, I love being with Ally and Greg. Being able to travel with people is a pretty big deal, and we all rode ferries and tour buses and trains and planes and bikes together for over a week with no meltdowns or Jerry Springer-worthy fights. In fact, it was pretty full of laughter and perfect. And I'm glad, because Ally deserves perfect. I have mentored Ally since she was in high school, and she's a little sister to me. I'm so glad I got to be the first one to see her after she made this major life decision to marry Greg, so glad I got to be around the 2 of them because I love how they complement each other and laugh so much, so glad I got to experience Europe with them ('cause I LOVE Europe) and so glad I get to photograph their wedding and document their love! 

Bittersweet, with the emphasis on sweet.

My dear friend Molly told me recently that there are 4 stages of happiness. She told this to me over the phone just before I boarded a plane to London, and I quickly pulled out my journal and jotted them down. Stage 1- Anticipation. Stage 2- Savoring. Stage 3- Remembering. Stage 4- Telling others. When it comes to this wedding, and this entire trip to Europe as a whole, I'm hoping that Stage 4 will truly bring some happiness (cause right now I'm just in withdrawal!).

Lani is dear to me. She and I have known each other since 2004, when she flew across the Atlantic Ocean to come to Eagle Lake Camp and ended up in my tent: I the counselor and she, the camper. That summer was very life-changing for her, and we've stayed in touch ever since. We have even gotten face-to-face time 3 times since then– once I was in London and twice she came to Colorado to visit. Lani is amazing, so it should've been no surprise to me that she is surrounded by a group of amazing people as well. But onto the happiness:

Stage 1: It's my first international wedding. It's the first time I've been back to Western Europe since my parents lived there in 2005. I. LOVE. EUROPE. I'm all about anticipation.

Stage 2: I savored this experience so much I thought I might burst. Not only was the wedding itself just beautiful–full of loud worship to God and live instruments and vows that had some real history behind them– but the whole week leading up to that blessed event was also incredible! I met some of the most amazing people, had some of the most meaningful conversations, and performed more impressively at Mario Kart than I ever had before (the key, of course, is to be Baby Peach and ride a bike). But then wedding day... what a true celebration. I teared up several times during the ceremony (don't hire me if you're against misty-eyed photographers), I sang at the top of my lungs with everyone else in a grand worship celebration, and I danced as hard as I could at the reception later... as hard as was necessary to celebrate the union of such a lovely couple. I like British people. They aren't afraid to dance. (somewhat surprising)

Stage 3: I've had some plane, bus, train, taxi, ferry, and bicycle rides since then to ponder and process through all that this time in England meant, and I have to say, experiences like that are hard to let go of. Hard to leave behind. I'm generally not so sad when leaving places, as Colorado is pretty much the greatest place on earth and I'm always excited to come home to it. But London gets to me... in the best way possible, I suppose.  

Stage 4: So far, the telling people part just brings up the pit-in-the-stomach-I-miss-UK feelings, but perhaps I'll just keep plugging away at it, which is what I'm doing right now. I do like telling travel stories, so if you're one who doesn't mind hearing them, please call me and pull up a chair  :) 

And if you're across the pond and it's Pimm's O'Clock, then raise your glasses to our dear friends Lani and Charlie and to the bright future ahead of them. Cheers! 

Read that sign if you can. Pretty awesome.
 Sisterly love.
 Tea time before the wedding. Brilliant. I love these people.
 Sees his baby girl for the first time!
 Rolls Royce! I got to sit in it...

 Phew. Carla, you can wail.

 Charlie, this one's for you :)

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