(Meant to get to this yesterday, but was still enjoying the wind-down.)
I'm just going to kind of ramble incoherently about the process and the people involved here, rather than just tell a complete story.
:: First, Carl and Kate. As I've been saying, Carl and I have been best friends now for exactly 25 years. The two of them did a wonderful job of making me feel included, like I was a small but integral part of their wedding experience. Like I've said, it goes against the way I've sort of trained myself to believe, which is that no one wants me around or needs to include me, but I really tried to push those misgivings aside so that I wasn't constantly deflecting their compliments, encouragement, or gratitude for being the best man. It was important to Kate because it was important to Carl, and that was both flattering and touching.
The two of them are a great couple and had such a happy day. I'm not a wedding guy--obviously, considering Becca and I eloped to the court house and didn't tell anyone about it for weeks--but they're wedding people and theirs went off perfectly and reflected their personalities.
I can't thank both of them enough.
:: The rehearsal dinner was at a place I'd never been to on the edge of Willowbrook, a little Irish pub called the Kerry Piper. It was mainly the wedding party, the parents, and some relatives. I never once was made to feel excluded or out of place. Everyone acted like I was returning family, as though I'd just moved away and didn't keep in touch enough.
Carl's mom Lois didn't even recognize me at first, which is funny given how much time I spent at her house. Entire weekends for years, from junior high through all of high school. She saw how heavy I'd gotten and asked "What happened here?" (but not in a mean way), and I answered "Well, I just filled out a bit and forgot to stop."
Lois is wonderful. She calls me her "other son" and tells me she's my "other mother" because of all the time I spent at their house growing up. She really took me in a lot and was never anything but warm, concerned and welcoming. It was a hard time, because Carl and I were both going through that angry teenager phase, and I didn't want to be at either of my parents' homes on the weekend (because I felt out of place at both of them), but Carl and his mother were having a lot of personality clashes, too, and I didn't like hearing him say bad things about her, because she was so nice to me. Lois and I even used to talk on the phone for an hour or more if I called and he wasn't there. I think some of that was because she couldn't talk to Carl because he was being a sullen teenager. (Hey, I was being a sullen teenager with my mom, too.)
So it was wonderful to see Lois again. I'm sorry I haven't kept in touch with her better. When I agreed to be the best man, she called to thank me and I recognized her number on my phone right away.
Skipping ahead briefly: Carl and Lois seem to have long ago worked out that phase, and seeing them dance the mother/son dance (Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World") made me tear up. That's my brother and my other mother.
I did talk to Lois a bit between the ceremony and the reception about my disorders and she was very sympathetic. Apparently she has a relative with similar problems who couldn't come to the wedding for that reason.
:: Carl and Kate gave gifts to the parents and the wedding party at the rehearsal dinner and gave me the first volume of the new Fantagraphics Pogo reprints. Does he know me or what? I love comic strips, and Pogo is in the top five.
:: Standing next to me as Carl's groomswoman was his other best friend, Kari. I met Kari exactly one time in 1998 while working on one of Carl's student films, but it was a memorable day. She's in engineering now. She remembered that day, too, and we easily fell into a friendly rhythm, as though our friendship with Carl also made us old friends. She's a lot like me, and we have similar senses of humor. I remember when I first met her I thought she was fantastic, and she still is. She was there with her husband, Greg, who was a really cool guy.
Also cool: Kate's matron of honor, her best friend Lisa, and Lisa's husband Jeff. Like Kari and Greg, they treated me warmly. It was like we were all already friends somehow. It was... well, it was kind of amazing. Again, being included and being made to feel like a part of what was going on and like I belonged there... that's not how I expect to be treated, and being taken in that way really made me feel more confident and made me feel good to be there.
:: It was so nice and cool the night of the rehearsal dinner, and so hot and humid the day of the wedding. It was actually pouring down rain in DeKalb when we left, but by the time we got to Naperville we could tell it hadn't rained there at all. It was 93 degrees and thickly humid, though. I had to sit down a bit, but didn't grumble during pictures or the drive around Naperville for more pictures. I didn't want to be that guy who was only here begrudgingly and had to tell everyone how uncomfortable I am. It's not their fault I weigh 441 pounds and get tired easily.
Speaking of, I'm just not used to that much standing. I had terrible charlie horse cramps overnight on Friday, and was eating ibuprofen for most of the day. I was sure I'd have the cramps again Saturday night, since I'd obviously stood and walked around much more that day, but my mom gave Becca some sort of spray that relaxes the muscles and I didn't get cramps at all. Not bad. Makes me more confident about how I've been pushing myself harder lately while exercising.
:: I still wish I'd looked better in that tuxedo. Lots of people said I looked nice, though. It's just.... it's not how I see myself or want to be seen, being this fat. I've got to work harder and harder on that.
:: How about this trolley?
So now I've not only ridden a trolley/bus, but I've ridden one with no seat belts and a tenuous wooden seat on the expressway, all while noticing that its doors didn't securely close all the way.
Well, you know the anxiety of being a passenger for me. I sucked it up. After a while, it was pretty darn neat. That was for the wedding party and parents. It was interesting, too, when we passed through Woodridge, the town I grew up in, and I was noticing what had changed and what hadn't. I can't remember exactly when I was there last...
The woman who drove the trolley was very nice and didn't drive in a way that freaked me out any further. She gave us some Naperville history that I found interesting; Carl once produced a documentary about the founding of Naperville that I narrated. (Carl is the operations supervisor at Naperville's public television; the executive director apparently had heard my voice in something of his and wanted me to narrate. That was in 2006, I believe. She was at the wedding and came over and raved to me about how good my narration was then! My mom was sitting right there and she told my mom all about it!)
:: I've never worn cuff links before. Kind of neat, but a pain in the ass when I was sitting down to dinner, just because I like to rest my forearms on the table.
:: Boy, dress shoes are not comfortable. No support. My feet still hurt a little.
:: The pre-service music was all from film scores. That's perfect. Also, Carl and Kate's first dance was to "The Rainbow Connection."
:: Two members of the wedding party were, I believe, Kate's younger sisters. They were flirty on the shuttle ride from the hotel to the reception hall. It was just the three of us. That was nice and cute. Not serious flirty, just fun flirty.
:: Yes, I was terrified about my wedding toast. Here it is, if anyone wants to read it. I was so nervous about it, but people applauded and Carl and Kate both loved it. Kari told me that during dinner she could hear people talking about how much they liked it, and during dinner four different people came up to me and shook my hand and said they were really moved by it. So I guess I did okay. I tried not to be my usual self. Where my instinct is usually to say "Really? It was okay?" I was able to say "Thank you so much for saying that." Trying to accept compliments and a sense of accomplishment, like my therapist keeps telling me to do.
:: Also at dinner: excellent champagne. I don't usually like alcohol, but the champagne was really nice and smooth. (Dinner itself was great. God, I love beef. I don't even care. I love beef.)
:: When we got home Saturday night, I was more tired than I've been in years, but in a physical way, not an emotional way. I did have a couple of Xanax during the day, but a lot of it was self-reasoning and breathing techniques. It showed me not only what I can do when I want to do it, but also showed me that I can stay moment-focused instead of just pushing my way through something to get it over with.
I had a wonderful time. I felt included. I felt like I belonged there. And I showed myself: I can do this.
:: A little tag.
The day before the rehearsal dinner, when I was on the phone with Carl at Mens' Wearhouse, he knew I had lingering fear about the whole thing (he reads this blog: hey, dude!), and he told me this to shore me up: "Remember when we were kids and you talked me into driving down the road while you held on to the back of the car on your skateboard? If there's one thing I know about you, it's that when you decide you're going to do something, you throw yourself into it."
I had forgotten about that awful event: I had to let go of the car, the board came out from under me, and I landed on my head and rolled several times. I had just healed from a terrible sprain in my ankle I'd gotten in gym class. And then I cried about how stupid I am.
"Carl, that ended horribly," I said. "That's not a good example."
"Yeah, but you did it," he said. "Like I said, when you decide you're going to do something, you do it, and damn the consequences."
I paused for a second. "That's the nicest way anyone's ever told me that I have terrible impulse control."