Thursday, June 2, 2011

Road Tripping to Manchester, VT

The old in LA (Middle School pictures are too cruel to post)
A few weekends ago I hit the road with a friend that I've known since I was ten years old. We were classmates in middle school, roommates in college, lived together in Los Angeles, and then went our separate ways - she to Colorado and me to San Diego and now New York. Distance brought it's challenges along with life changes as she got married (I was a bridesmaid) and our social lives kept us from catching up consistently, let alone spending quality one on one time together. So our road trip to Manchester, VT from NYC for our other roommate from college's wedding was such a cathartic re-grouping, almost a salvage of 22 years of friendship that had been covered in a layer of dust obscuring the plethora of adventures, disasters, tears, laughter, amazingly awful hair and braces, all the things only your very closest and longest friends can know about you. And sometimes your friendships need that reprieve - they need the breathing room - so you can find just you and then reintroduce that person to the ones that are closest. I've now experienced this with both of my best friends and I'm certain our friendships are stronger for that reprieve.

NOT Grave Digger
The impetus for the road trip led us to the charming town of Manchester, Vermont. It's about a four hour drive from New York and quite a picturesque jaunt through darling little towns like Husick ("You sick?!" was our joke) and Buskirk ("What a buskirk" the other); maybe we'd been in the car too long but these had us in hysterics. That and the maroon Volvo station wagon that was lifted on what appeared to be monster truck wheels dragging a trailer. I mean, I'm sorry your mom handed you the grocery grabber but thinking it will now compete with Grave Digger is a whole other plight you have certainly not accomplished. But thank you whomever you are for the entertainment. Tears were shed.

Arriving in Manchester was such a treat - a charming town with beautiful buildings, the renowned Equinox Resort and Spa, Historic Hildene - a picturesque Lincoln family property where the wedding took place, beautiful back drop of mountains with hiking and fly fishing, and the gamut of outlet stores. If only I'd had time to shop! The rehearsal dinner was chock full of laughs at the expense of the groom and heartfelt stories about the bride (we all knew better than to poke fun or share secrets - karma is not pleasant) followed by a welcome cocktail party with tons of old and new friends. Many of us were staying at the Inn at Willow Pond where our gracious hosts had the bar opened and ready for us to party it up during the wedding weekend. It couldn't have been a better venue - low key with an indoor bar and an outdoor bonfire - options appealing to everyone.

From Freshman Besties to Grown Ladies
Rain had plagued us all weekend and we were all prepared with the back up plan should it pour before the ceremony. As luck would have it the rain and clouds in the morning cleared and sun shone down upon us while we did pictures and even still as the guests arrived. The procession began and we all took our places at the end of the lawn overlooking the gorgeous valley. It was beautiful. The bride entered with her father - she looked ravishing, he looked dapper (his first time in a tux to boot!) And the ceremony the darkest, most ominous clouds rolled in our direction. Calm was retained and Brad, the officiant, continued. And then the drops started to fall. Our trusty driver who escorted us to Hildene ran back and forth from the main house toting umbrellas for the pivotal characters (bride and groom, mother of the bride, bridesmaids, etc.)

A beautiful start to the ceremony

And the rain became a deluge soaking the less fortunate guests including the beautiful mother of the groom. The groomsmen were like sentinels, remaining at their perch while being hammered by the pelting rain. It certainly showed dedication to their friend the groom - I was quite impressed as I huddled with the 5 bridesmaids under one umbrella. You couldn't have wrenched that umbrella from my dead hands - there was no way I was getting soaked! The ceremony was curtailed but vows were accomplished (albeit in a shortened version) and everyone ran to the cocktail tent. Towels, fans and hair dryers were summoned and everyone collected themselves and passed the champagne. Through it all, the bride and groom remained calm and focused on one another, enjoying the moment and appreciating the experience. Rain is, after all, good luck for a marriage. And in that quantity, they are going to be SUPER lucky!

Champagne seemed to get everyone warmed up and in the spirit to party. Once we descended upon the reception tent for dinner, speeches and dancing, Brad decided an impromptu re-do of the vows was appropriate. This time under the protection of a tent, all of us watched while C & C exchanged their vows, this time much more calmly and carefully, and were pronounced husband and wife.
The vows revisited

Hours of non-stop dancing, photo booth visits, hamming it up for the camera man, and Long Trail Pale Ales later, we retired back to Willow Pond, continuing the party and enjoyment with the guests. Honestly I haven't had that much fun at a wedding in a long time. And certainly a huge component was getting to spend the weekend with such dear friends, reliving moments from college - particularly from freshman year with TTT/B and KZB/F (and Donna's blondies), and making new friends and memories along the way.

The weekend ended back in NYC just me and TTB exploring some of my favorite haunts and enjoying our last few hours together on our own. Who knows the next time it will just be us - no husbands or kids or dogs. Just two friends who share more than could ever be articulated in this blog. Here's to those special people in all of our lives and the perpetual impression they have on who we were, who we are, and who we become.

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