For whom the wedding bell tolls

Spring has sprung with renewed energy.  We have tons of weddings, graduations, goodbye parties, and birthdays to attend, but I guess that all comes with the territory of having 653 friends on Facebook.  For me, the wedding last weekend takes the cake in importance.  If I were to think otherwise, I risk banishment by all the females in my family, including my wife, and probably be sent to dwell among the lowly members of my gender who have made similar mistakes.  On May 14th, my baby sister got married outside of Philadelphia, PA.  Cara, my sister, and I have always had a special bond.  Four years younger than me, and the only other female in residence besides my mom, she learned how to help with the household at a young age.  During my early college years, I would come home for the summer and work with my friend Steve Kuders on a landscaping crew.  We would literally start drinking booze immediately after getting off work  and would head right out to the bars in the nearby college town of West Chester.  Every morning, as I drunkenly awoke and prayed for rain, I would stumble downstairs and wait for the crew to pick me up.  On the kitchen table there would always be a bagged lunch for me, with a Ziplock full of goldfish crackers, which I can eat by the millions, and a note from my sister wishing for me to have a good day.  I always appreciated her, always felt like she was looking out.

My sis, looking out

My sister and I are close.  We always have been because we are very similar.  We both talk fast, although her years living in New York City have sped her up while my years living on the beach have slowed me down.  We both did well for ourselves in high school and college.  Both have surrounded ourselves with wonderful friends and have lived life on our terms.  I moved to Los Angeles, her to NYC.  Sometimes I really appreciate the trials and hardships of my youth, not only because it made me who I am, but because she watched me and made choices to never go down the same path.

Cara always got me.  Even at the height of my hoodlumness, when I was stealing the 20 dollars from her piggy bank to buy smokes and booze, she was always there to defend my name.  This past December, she was flying through LA and stopped over for a few hours.  I picked her up and took her for a ride through the cliffs near my house on my Vespa.  We parked and walked through the Christmas lights, talking about her upcoming wedding, the holidays, family gossip.  We have always been able to pickup where we left off and can always find a good laugh.

So here we were: Katherine and I in Philly for the most important wedding of the year, both American and British.  I want to write a post on my hometown but I will leave it for another day, as the romanticism of it is too much and will make this blog a book.  Katherine and I got into an argument before leaving for the airport, which I would like to point out is awkward when your ride to the airport is your ex-girlfriend. We realized in Chicago Katherine had left her driver’s license at the security checkpoint in LAX and after figuring out how it was my fault, we hugged and made up.

I can never sleep when I’m coming home. I’m too excited to see my family and friends, to breathe the East Coast air that had nutured my youth and, of course, to play Star Wars with my nephew.

Luke, I am your father's.........brother

Katherine has related my family to The Family Stone.  I take that as a compliment because I love that movie and I love Rachel McAdams in pajamas. (Yes, I had to have a tatas link right there.)  We are one big dysfunctional group of huge personalities. We arrived in the East and after hugs, hellos, and a cheesesteak, of course , we were put to work by my sister.  The house was abuzz with pre-wedding energy and I say energy because it wasn’t completely all blissful.  I had a long talk with myself on the flight home that my main goal this trip was to do everything my sister needed.  She is a perfectionist, more so than me, and I knew she would be on stress level high.

I was given the afternoon off and Katherine, my nephew Andrew and I headed east across the Commodore Barry Bridge and into New Jersey to visit one of my best mates in the whole world, his beautiful wife, and their three kids.  The love story behind these two should be a movie.  The short, short version is: They started dating in sixth grade, he lost her when they left for college, he was lost for the four years without her and would show up at her college house with guitars and love poems, making an ass of himself sometimes due to booze. All looked lost as she got serious with someone else. He didn’t give up hope and believed in Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Love.  She broke up with the other guy, they started talking, he proved the young drunk ass boy was gone, she knew she always loved him and only him, they kissed and love conquered.   I am sorry I don’t have a picture of her and him together.  The one I took of her is with Katherine too and Katherine is making a weird face.

Crowley and Wiggins, like Batman and Robin without the tights

We tried to catch up on the last year in three hours.  I wanted to stay and booze with my old mate but I knew my sister needed me.  Plus, my brother was blowing up my cell phone to the point that Chris asked if there was an Amber alert out on my nephew.  We said our goodbyes and headed back to PA.

The next two days were spent in frenzied preparation for the wedding.  Speaking from experience, the goal is to tread softly around the females involved, especially the bride.  One wrong comment or move can bring the wrath of “wedding bliss” upon your head.  We were working hard.  Pretty much felt like I was in the Philippines, in a sweat shop, but we were making progress.

The gift bags

The programs

The thumbs up

One of the things I truly miss the most about the East is the history.  I am proud of our country and despite what our friends in New England will tell you, Philly was the birthplace of our nation.  My sister and John, her fiance now husband, picked The Dilworthtown Inn for the rehearsal dinner.  This place is awesome and has been around since 1780.  British troops occupied the inn during the revolutionary war and still have an outstanding bill of a few thousand pounds which is displayed on the wall downstairs.  Fireplaces and candles were lit and gave a certain East Coast ambiance to the night.  My family, known for blowing up at each other in anger, all come together quickly and tightly when needed.  The night was wonderful and even though my family was in the same room as me, I missed them more.

Obviously "make a muscle"means "dance an Irish jig" to my nephew

Ma Familia

My two very important girls

The next morning was the wedding day.  I awoke early and was volunteered as a taxi for some of the girls to the salon.  I was mildly hung over and had some free time so I drove out to the Brandywine battlefield and took a walk in the cool, grey morning. The hills and trees were so green and little yellow flowers speckled the fields.  I walked down  to Washington’s headquarters and once again thought about how much he sacrificed for our nation.  Shit, what a crazy time to live in.

Washington's headquarters at Brandywine

The wedding was perfect, my sister a beautiful bride.  My brother Eric and I had the honor of walking her down the aisle and the pride I took with every step seemed to give a glimpse into what it must be like to be a parent.  We walked slowly, the three of us, past the familiar faces of friends and family.  Old babysitters and distant cousins, the smiles all beamed towards us, towards her, as we traversed slowly through the forest of our past.  It was like the end of Big Fish when the father sees all the faces from his past, and with tears in my eyes I handed my little sister over to her new protector.  A new chapter had begun and our childhood was closed.

A fine looking trio

Into the sunset

The reception was held in an old English manor called Greystone Hall.  It was pretty much the house from CLUE.  I wouldn’t tell my sister but the grey skies and light drizzles amplified the gothic feel of the place and I loved it. I couldn’t even catch my breath as I spun from table to table kissing, hugging, trying to catch up.  Dusk turned into darkness but the spirits being consumed lit lanterns in my eyes.  I danced, poorly, and even ran into my dad.  Like most weddings the hours slipped through like minutes and before I knew it we were all headed back to the hotel.  It had been a long day and I was emotionally exhausted. My sister, the pride and joy of my family, was no longer a Crowley.  My last semi-clear memory of the night was of me sitting in the lobby surrounded by my cousins.  I was stuffed into a lounge chair with a piece of pizza in one hand and a half of hoagie in the other.


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May 2011
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