Friday, September 3, 2010

Exile in Paradise

Photo by John Dugdale

The Exile is woozy with happiness (and exhaustion) because she and FF just got married.

Our old-fashioned wedding on an private antique railroad train was marvelous, both by our own account and that of our guests. Some of the finest people in Tiny Town and well beyond took part in our celebration, and everyone at the nuptial shindig was sincerely happy. There is a strong feeling of Mission Accomplished going on in our hearts, not just because we pulled off a rather complex event and not just because we are finally Mr. and Mrs. FF: Rather, we are completed by the fact that our ritual brought joy into so many other hearts and brought our people closer to us. MUE was smiley, and SUE was the ultimate sister of the bride, throwing a top-notch rehearsal dinner with great panache.

In short, we left 'em laughing. That had been our hope and it was why we didn't just elope in the first place. So. Mission Accomplished.

After the wedding, FF and I packed lightly and drove 12 hours South. We spent the last two days in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in a small log cabin where there was a nice feeling of privacy, despite the fact that the owners lived just across the way. Last night, a black bear placed his muddy paws on our back window and we feel it as a mountain blessing. Mission Accomplished, said Br'er Bear. I left my beautiful wedding bouquet of cream colored bunch roses, buplurum and royal purple snapdragons (which had survived the car journey pretty well) sitting in a hollow stump in the woods: blessings back to you, Woods. I imagine Br'er Bear's snuffin' my bouquet right now.

So at this writing Exile is on honeymoon with FF. I am sitting in the lobby of the historic Inn in Altamont waiting for FF to finish his tennis game at the Club. I am comfortably ensconced in an arts and crafts leather and wood sofa facing the Brobdignagian stone fireplace at the end of the Great Hall, tickled by the slight piney breeze from the nearby mountains, and I am taking a moment to dash off a note to you, dear Reader.

Does Mrs. FF feel different now that she and FF are really married? Yes, indeed she does! A keystone piece fell into place with a decisive whumph when we said our I do's, a keystone that's been waiting to fall for a good while and which is going to make our home hang together strong. Yes, Exile feels different now that we're married, but the words don't really come to describe it. Just whumph.

FF looked gorgeous this morning in his tennis whites and even more so because he's got a big old smile on his face all the time! I asked him today if he'd rather if I just drop him off, check us into the Royal Suites (where we are staying the next few days), and come pick him up later. He said, “No, it'll be fun to walk in together.” So we walked into the Club together and he introduced me to his pro: “Walter, this is my wife, Exile.” And I realized that it was the first time he had introduced me as his wife. I am absolutely sure we both got the same little jolt of pleasure from this fact. I have yet to have my debut, “This is my husband, FF”, so we have yet more newlywed cherries to pop. Oh, what fun!

Life at this moment is completely happy, and I can't imagine this good feeling ever going away. No matter what happens, he's my FF and I am his Exile. We are a family of two now in the eyes of the state of Pennsylvania, our friends, our family and, yes, ourselves too. It's real.

In all this blissful yumminess, New York City has faded almost completely from my mind. Yesterday, FF asked if I had heard anything from Kalim, our real estate agent, and I replied that I had not and did not expect to think at all about New York City until after our honeymoon. He agreed. New York City doesn't belong on this honeymoon with us.

I haven't gone so long without thinking about New York City in 28 years, and that is a really good sign. It means that with this wedding, with this step into the rest of my life, I thee dismiss, New York City. Get thee gone, big bad old town! New York City doesn't have that old voodoo hold on my mind like it used to. It's as if the words “I do” were the secret incantation I had always needed to break the spell the city has had on me all these years. The nostalgia and the confusion are gone and I can, to quote the song, see clearly now.

You see, for me to want to leave the biggest, baddest city in the world I had to believe that there was someplace worthwhile to go to. And when you're talking about the putative center of the world, that someplace couldn't just be another city: It had to be another heart.

Forest Blessing. Photo: Urban Exile

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