Water is Water is Water

One thing they always tell you to pack before going to live abroad is at least one good book in your own language, one that you love and which can help ward off early signs of homesickness. Of course that doesn’t really help much in my case, as I am constantly speaking English, and rarely venture into fanciful flights of the lingua Germanica.


So last night, craving some good, homey Mexican food, I found myself in front of the only restaurant in Saarbrücken that could provide it. I didn’t feel like staying there to eat, as the place smelled of old cigars, so I asked the waitress if I could have their taco plate to go. They said it was fine, so I went outside to wander the streets till it was ready.


Ten minutes later, I walk back into the restaurant as the waitress heads over carrying a huge foil-wrapped mound in her hands. She apologizes, saying they had no plastic bag to put it in. I look at it rather askance as she sets it down, but pull out my wallet to pay. She walks off as I pause for a moment, wondering if there is any way to stuff it into my backpack, then pick it up.


Lo, and behold, there was my dish served in two of their ceramic plates (one would have been too hot on its own), and the whole thing covered in aluminum. I stared in amazement before flagging down the waitress, to whom I helplessly cried, “but.. but.. I can’t, I can’t take your plates!” To which they only shrugged their shoulders, stating matter-of-factly that they had nothing else to put it in.


To punish myself (there was no way on earth I was going to march through Saint Johanner Markt carrying such a bundle), I sat right down at the nearest table to eat it.


To boot, the waitress asked me if I wanted something to drink, and brought me a glass of sprüdel with lemon when I asked for water. Will I never learn?


Ah, homesickness. You win this time.

Amethysts and Pearls

Last Saturday, my sister and her fiancé married in the charming coastal town of Carmel, California. The ceremony was held in a hall across from Sunset Center instead of the sandy beach, so that our grandparents could attend and grace the front row seats. It was an amethyst and black pearl wedding, lush with sterling roses and white carnations, baby’s breath, and silver hearts. The tables were draped with black and violet linen, and topped with centerpieces of tall, slender white candles floating amid inky black quartz and moonstone pebbles. All in all, just as a wedding should be.


I was part of the bridal party myself, one of three bridesmaids wearing a long purple satin dress with silver heels. Jenean’s own dress was lovely; bare-shouldered with a princess cut, it was of white tulle with purple satin trim, and just a wee bit too long. We had to rent a hoop skirt from a costume store in the city, and it made the gown boop up and down as it would on any southern belle from Gone with the Wind.


We were afraid of rain, December weddings can be so finicky, but it did not rain. The day was calm, if not entirely blue sky and sun. Jenean was not the most conventional of brides, insisting that the photographer snap a picture of her and the maid of honor chain-smoking behind the hall, but much work and love was put in to make it special for her. The groom’s mother offered to cater the wedding with her staff, who, out of respect for her, volunteered their time at the event. Claire, a close friend of the family, scoured the Monterey Bay with my mother in the hunt for sterling roses, surprisingly difficult to find, and stayed up almost the entire night on the eve of the wedding designing the floral arrangements. And my mother worked tirelessly, in the one month they had for preparations, on everything else.


As for me, I was not the maid of honor (yes, yes, slight bitterness), but I did all I could to uphold traditions and ensure she got all that a bride deserves. On the day before the wedding, I quickly hatched a plan for a bachelorette party, since none had been planned before, and we kidnapped the bride-to-be shortly after the rehearsal dinner.


We blindfolded her, adorned her with long cleopatra earrings, a white feather boa, and a mini veil, and stole her away to Carmel beach where we drank cheap white wine from a purple plastic penis and howled at the moon. We didn’t stay long; she was the one fitting our dresses (she has the degree in costuming, after all), and there were still corsets to be altered and a veil to be made.


To be sure, she stayed up all night the previous evening working on our dresses, since both I and another bridesmaid did not arrive until two days before the wedding. Unfortunately, we let her sleep long the day of, and the gaggle of girls who had come over early to do her hair, ended up missing the ceremony entirely because they had no time to dress themselves.


As for another tradition I pulled out,

Something old, something new,
something borrowed, something blue.

I never was able to find something old, but my aunt kindly furnished us with a borrowed black and white pearl bracelet; Vicki gave her a pink-feathered blinking garter (which Daniel, the groom, cheerfully pulled off with his teeth to throw for the groomsmen); and I ran off to Long’s for a pair of blue cotton underwear. I was just a bit too hasty in picking those out, however, and as we were dressing, she unrolled what turned out to be giant granny panties, cocked her head to the side and demanded, “Jen, what is this??” as the other girls laughed in hilarity. So it was not to be.


Still, the rest of the ceremony went off without a hitch and I almost broke down in tears as my little sister walked down the aisle on my father’s arm. There was a short bonfire on the beach after the reception, after which Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Morales got into their limousine and betook themselves to the Highlands for their little honeymoon. It was a bittersweet day, for who knows when and if we will all be together again, but I wish them all the best, and in my heart I send them off with this blessing,


May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may you each fill the other’s heart with gladness to cheer you.