Thursday, June 20, 2013


I, too, was a June bride. Still am. Which is why I'm going shopping for myself after I post this, on account of people stopped giving me wedding presents after that very first year, compelling me to take over where they left off.


The front of my fridge is wallpapered in a collage of wedding announcements. This can only mean one thing—it must be June.

Even now, as I’m writing this, I’m running a mental list of “to-dos” for the bridal shower I’m hosting in a couple of days for my beautiful cousin.

I was talking to her mom the other night and she told me that the engaged couple is expecting that their own friends will far outnumber their parent’s friends, neighbors and family members at the reception.

We both laughed until we lost our breath.

That’s because we once were those friends, and remembered how we barely gave a rat’s rump about anybody else, as soon there was a Mrs. in front of our name.

I recall being the best Maid of Honor—several times, actually—before  I was engaged. I threw the showers, wore the peach taffeta dresses, stood next to the bride in line and spent hours in the lingerie stores, searching for the perfect honeymoon items.

Then I got married. And the world went away. 

Immediately I became so engrossed in our twosome that, assuming we could even drag ourselves to the reception, I put forth even less effort to dig through the left-over wedding gift stash to come up with something to pretend I bought with the newlyweds in mind. 

I’m a little bit ashamed to admit that some lucky ducks out there ended up with a bubble gum pink vinyl garment bag. But don’t let’s pretend that we didn’t ALL use that stash, for even our very best friend’s weddings, M’ kay, pumpkins? Because you and I both know, that for a good five years, we re-gifted that same set of “goose on country blue” kitchen towels back and forth. The only thoughtful thing about them, was when we remembered to remove the previous To/From card. 

Looking back, I don’t recall everything we received for our own wedding, but I do remember two very important things: First, that we ended up with 11 boxes of drinking glasses. Eleven. Big. Giant. Boxes. Of the exact same glasses. They had to be worth...well, hundreds! 

Of course, we only kept one box, and rubbed our hands together in greedy anticipation of how much cash we could get with the return of the other ten. Turns out, the answer was around $2.79 per box. On account of there were four other weddings in our neighborhood that week, and K-mart had a sale. 


Anyway, the other very important thing I remember was that when we returned from our honeymoon, there in the middle of the gift pile, was a giant, beautifully wrapped box...from my own dear mother. With my hand to my heart and puppy dog eyes, I reverently told Sterling we would save this one for last.

Hours later, legs numb from sitting indian style, surrounded by boxes of glasses and the carnage of a hundred rolls of wrapping paper, it was finally time, and I reached for the gift. It was addressed only to me—even more meaningful. 

I gingerly slid my fingers under the paper, closed my eyes and lifted the cardboard flaps. Holding my breath, I opened my eyes and peered inside to find...... ironing pile, dammit. 

The wrinkled clothes that had been piled deep and high for several years—some so long untouched that I had actually grown out of them—and now, like an heirloom brooch or favorite family recipe, were handed down with love, from mother to daughter.

Well, anyway, I’ve got a shower to plan. And about 14 wedding receptions to buy gifts for. Yes, the “stash” ran dry years ago...about the time I started to have children. Which is also about the time I became aware that there are more people living here on earth than just me and my husband...which is why I’m hosting the shower and attending the wedding receptions, and trying to make up for the miserable failures of my youth. 

And THAT is why the friends, neighbors and family of the parents will always outnumber those of the young couple—so you’d better be nice to them, unless you want eleven boxes of glasses.

PS—I still keep that ironing pile. The clothes may be different, but the pile is just as deep and high as it was so many years ago. It is an homage to my mother, bless her heart. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013


As the sun sets on yet another school year, let us remember when...and then be grateful we never have to personally revisit the drama. If only our children were so lucky—

I remember vividly the day they measured our senior class for graduation caps and gowns. We were sitting in English class as they walked through the room, holding a measuring tape and clipboard, and loudly announcing the circumference of each student’s skull, which all seemed to be in the 16-17 inch range.

“16 1/2...17 1/4...16 3/4...”

Until they got to me.


Or so it seemed. 

It was, in fact, so much larger than the others, that they felt compelled to re-measure and announce my giant head yet again.

“Yup. Four hundred and eighty three inches around. That’s what it really is.”

My head was officially more beefy than the captain of the football team...on account of my vast amount of brains, I’m sure.

But fortunately, the other kids let me live it down quickly, because we were near the end of our high school career, which meant that we all kind of liked each other again.

It’s a funny thing that happens as you wind down your secondary education—a weird sort of phenomenon known as rose colored glasses. Every moment is filmed in Instagram sepia, with a soft focus filter, and you suddenly can’t remember why it was that just last month, you hated their ever-living GUTS. Because now you see them the way Jesus sees them, and weep as you write sweet nothings in their yearbook.

Of course, those sentiments don’t usually last. My younger sister, Kara, woke up the day after her graduation and headed straight to the salon, where she hacked off her waist length hair. This was a symbolic gesture of being freed from the tethers she’d acquired—in friendships and responsibilities—over the course of her high school career.

And I couldn’t blame her, because I don’t think I answered my phone even once for the first half of the summer after commencement. I was so over it. 

I remember driving back to the school the morning after the all night party, to clean out the remnants of my locker. My ’86 tassel swung from the mirror of my bright green Volkswagon Rabbit—a hand-me-down from a dear uncle whom I repaid by “forgetting” to check the oil, thus seizing up the engine in the middle of I-15 a couple of months later. But that was HARDLY my fault, you guys, because shouldn’t there have been some sort of blinking light or siren blast that suggested this was an IMPORTANT additive? I mean, come on! Give a girl a warning! 

Anyway, I remember feeling a sense of euphoria—the cliched notion that I had my whole life in front of me! And I was going to start it off by getting a really, really good base tan. Right after a nap. And a Diet Coke. 

Eventually, that first summer passed away, and with it, the desperation and lack of confidence known to every high school student. It was replaced with giant hoop earrings, highlighted hair and an awesome job at the mall. I spent the months saving money for college, dieting on swedish fish and bologna sandwiches (the 80’s wasn’t really known for being nutritionally sound) and found a boyfriend who referred to me as, “Sweetheart.” 

Could life get any better? 

The answer is yes. It can, and it does. But that right there was pretty awesome sauce, and I have the skin cancer to prove it.

That next fall, we were invited back as alumni for Homecoming. A group of us sat together on the grass and talked about our lives thus far. I’ll never forget listening as one friend expressed profound regret over decisions she’d made in high school that had taken her down a path she never intended to go. 

Decisions that had seemed perfectly suited for Spirit Hall and exaggerated teenaged emotions, but once the cap was thrown into the air, left her reeling with despair.  

And she rocked back and forth, hugging her knees, and cried.

My heart ached for her. 

Bless her heart, she just hadn’t realized that there really IS life after high school. 

And so, in my duty as your official Islander Commencement speaker, I say to all of you dear graduates who have been told that those days were golden—let me assure you that just the opposite is true. Those days were paper. Maybe cardstock, or particle board, but definitely not precious metal. 

So as you drive along, go ahead and let your tassel swing in the rearview mirror, just as long as you continue looking forward, to your incredible future. There is so much more to come, my friends. So much more. 

May you go forth and conquer...and never find yourself hugging your knees over the choices you make—this is my prayer for you.