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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Our 30th Wedding Anniversary – Part I


Thirtieth anniversary? That sounds like a celebration for ancient couples. I look in the mirror and see a 30 year old. Maybe I’ve gone blind and don’t know it.

I was a child bride. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

We married in October 1978, during a decade decidedly known for its dearth of weddings. I could barely find a place that sold wedding dresses. Nowadays, anyone can buy a dress, online or otherwise. Not back then, in my neck of the woods.

We knew nothing of Kleinfeld’s in New York, its creamy, swank decor teeming with assistants appropriately dressed in business black. I had no inside information about Filene’s Basement’s annual running of the brides sale, equalling all of the drama of Pamplona’s bulls. Nothing was known of the flagship store in Boston, beyond the fact that my grandmother bought me beaver-trimmed winter coats there as a child.

It was my grandmother who had the first question regarding our impending nuptials, quizzing my parents.

“She is not marrying a Russian? He is Italian?” her suspicious mind working overtime.  The fact that I had never met a Russian under the age of 60 did not phase her.

“Italians eat pigeons,” she declared.

“But his mother’s side is from Czechoslovakia,” they offered.

“Czech or Slovak?”

We were not going to win this argument. My grandfather purchased a new suit to wear to the wedding. Unfortunately, he was buried in it during the intervening months, and my grandmother never made it to the celebration.

The planning was just as awful as the polyester party dresses and platform shoes which some guests selected, probably on purpose to mar forever my wedding photos. Not that these were Annie Liebowitz heirlooms snaps. The photographer, if I remember correctly, was known by my father from work. Or from elsewhere. Or somebody told somebody, and thus we ended up with a photographer with the artistic skills of an ant.

We are now pictured for all of eternity as the little pinhead bride and groom, distant shots, taken from an above angle designed to make me appear particularly pygmy-like. His artistic pictures include the back of the officiant’s head, premature semi-bald spot featured prominently in the foreground. Or, we could mention aiming the camera inbetween lighted candles, and trying to recreate missed shots by asking family members to sit by themselves in the audience after the wedding was concluded. There we are, front and center, standing before… all six people who had not yet rushed to the reception.

Ah, yes, the reception. It started out intended for a rented hall, serving such delicacies as lemon lush. We nixed that and nudged my mother in the direction of an old stagecoach inn, beautiful wallcoverings and draperies, instead of bulletin boards and cinderblock. Our plans tended toward a stand-up hors-d’oeuvres and cake reception. We worked on the menu, ironed out the details and Mom reserved the space. The problem arose two weeks before the reception.

Turns out that the director of the facility had been in a car accident and went deep into a coma. She made all of the reservations and kept them in her head. Now she had awakened and discovered that our reservation had been scheduled with her assistant. But that weekend already had a reception for the very same day and time!

(Yes, this is a true story, despite the fact that it should probably be prominently featured in either “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”, or “America’s Funniest Home Videos”.)

So now we had to pray for good weather. The original party hoped to have their soiree in the courtyard outdoors. If it did not rain, they would allow us to use the inside of the historic building. In case of inclement weather, we would be up the creek. There was no Plan B. This was a prophetic theme that would attempt follow us over decades.

Somehow it worked. Through dark, rapidly moving autumnal clouds, the sun brightly shone. The two of us came to the reception last of all, following the few after-wedding photos, and found the doors to the party locked. We could see inside to our guests enjoying themselves, and yet bride and groom were barred from the festivities.

Never mind, we eventually made it inside to the elegant surroundings, complete with rice in one appetizer that was undercooked and hard as a rock, along with a beautiful white latticework wedding cake from a famous bakery. Unfortunately, my attempt at Seventies innovation, the unheard-of idea of chocolate cake inside vanilla frosting, backfired: the cake tasted like cardboard. Thankfully, none of these bumps in the road were portents of things to come. We would prevail, and we would do it together.

Now that we had come up to the big 3-0, I wondered what kind of card to buy my husband. All seemed unsuitably mushy and naive for those who knew each other so well and had weathered so many onslaughts. Maybe rather than “For My Husband”, I should go with “Congratulations”? On some days, I glanced through the “Sympathy” aisle….

My goal was to have some photos taken, 30 years later, of me in gown and him in tux. Not the original ones, mind you, which might be more along the line of hospital gowns that didn’t quite meet in the back. We would travel to an exotic getaway, and there stroll as though we were in our right minds, dressed for a wedding, along with our two children. Onlookers could throw flower petals, candies, or kudos. What they might imagine to be only the beginning of our life together, would instead, be our celebratory intermission before a bigger and better next act.

If only it could have been so simple….

Disaster loomed as we rushed forward headlong, into the unknown of more international adventure.

(Check back for Part II in Travel Section)

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