It was a great party. The occasion was a family wedding, which is pretty much the same as a family reunion, only with nicer clothes.
Which raises the question: Why do so many of life's significant events take place in uncomfortable shoes? No wonder, once the dancing started, the bride exchanged her dressy sandals for tennis shoes. Another cousin replaced her high heels with her favorite cowboy boots. A couple others were brave enough to ditch their shoes completely before they hit the dance floor. And the nine-months-pregnant cousin had been smart enough to wear flip-flops in the first place.
The wedding site was an ornate 1920's theatre that had been restored to its original Art Deco glory, from the fabulous chandeliers to the swans-head faucets in the ladies' room. The setting was beautiful. The ceremony was beautiful. The bride was the most beautiful of all.
Weddings, of course, are about new beginnings. This one seemed to carry a special commitment to hope, love, and life itself. Perhaps that was due to the memory of the bride's recovery a couple years ago from a brain tumor that turned out to be blessedly benign. Perhaps it was the presence of the bride's frail grandmother, in a wheelchair, at what may well be the last family occasion she is able to attend. Perhaps it was the undeniable vision of the future that was present—a whole herd of well-behaved but energetic small children.
The majority of them spent the interval between the ceremony and the dinner running laps around the balcony that surrounded the lobby of the theatre. After refueling at the banquet tables, they were among the first ones on the dance floor. At one point early in the evening, every couple on that floor consisted of an adult and a little kid. They may have been mismatched in height and age, but their enjoyment of the party and one another's company seemed perfectly in synch.
Most of the pint-sized dancers were still going strong when I left to take my parents back to the hotel. Thanks to my brother-in-law, I found, first, the parking garage, second, my car, and third, the exit. I drove around the corner and picked my parents up at the front door of the theatre.
Getting back to the hotel should have been simple. It was only four or five blocks away. I had a map which had been thoughtfully provided by the bride. Besides, I had driven from the hotel to the theatre in the first place.
But the earlier trip had been in daylight. I couldn't simply retrace my route, because the blocks around the theatre were a maze of one-way streets seemingly designed to confuse hapless visitors from out of town. The map would have been a great help if I hadn't left it in my hotel room.
I turned onto the first one-way street. Then the next one. One more, and we were heading up a long hill. Finally I knew where I was going—in the wrong direction. We needed to be headed downhill, toward the river. I may have been completely confused as to north and south, but at least I still knew up from down.
With the general direction of the hotel established, eventually we got back to the correct one-way street. It took us back past our starting point, the front doors of the theatre. As we came near, I saw the bride and groom on the sidewalk. I didn't understand why they were outside until I spotted the photographer on the other side of the street.
I think I saw his flash go off just as we drove by, right through the middle of his shot. There's nothing like having photographic proof of your navigational errors.
Oh, well. It was just another useful life reminder for the newlyweds: No matter how carefully you make plans, you'll always need to work around those unexpected interruptions.