After a few fun-filled days in New York with the kids (again... totally AWE.SOME) - I was off to Denver to photograph my cousin's wedding to her high-school sweetheart of ELEVEN YEARS! It was bitter-sweet and romantic and wonderful......
Mostly it was hard because the families were so great - so large and close .... all these people flying in from out of town to share in this occasion.... and I did *really* really well... .I didn't cry or feel bitter or upset all... until the Father/Daughter dance... and then I went to pieces on the inside.
All I could think of was that El Capitan has robbed us *all* of the innocence of this moment. I will (most likely) not be standing on the edge of the dance floor with tears of joy in my eyes while my baby girl's Daddy holds her in his arms for the last time, spinning her around the dance floor to Butterfly Kissses......
I know that sounds dumb... but I've shot... well over 300 weddings and at EVERY. SINGLE. ONE - I would leave planning what song I would dance with The Boy to - and what kind of speech would I give on The Girls' Big Day.....
To have allll of that tainted with the stain of a 22 years olds wet sheets...... well, frankly - it's a little more than annoying - it's borderline infuriating. *WILL* our little girl grow up to respect and love her father the same as she did *before* he decided to put the emotional security of our family down a 22 year olds pants?
I'm not sure.
Experience - at HUNDREDS of weddings where many of my clients parents are divorced - tells me that this will *most likely* be a bittersweet and somewhat tainted moment for The Girl no matter how hard I try to maintain and repair all their relationships. I know this has been a hard moment for several of my bride's whose story is similar to ours.....
An affair robs a family of so much more than just security and a loving home.... it's destroys memories that haven't even been made yet......
Anyhow - all in all - I kept my sh*t together and did my job (hopefully) without anyone noticing how I was feeling on the inside... that damn stupid thing called "being a professional" - oh... and I RE.FUSE to become "That Girl" at the party/wedding/special occasion who breaks down in tears and demands everyone's attention just because El Capitan lost track of his trouser weaseland trashed my life..... I just *can't* let that happen... lololol
So, getting on my FOURTH PLAN of the week - and it was full... dammit (and at this point I'm actually *wishing* I needed those two seats booked together because we're allll crammed in like sardines!) and a older couple sit down next to me.
They are Elegant Hippies (not an uncommon breed of Hippie to Portland) .... The Wife's soft, well manicured gray hair is casually swept up, her jewelry is custom and arty and probably a little bit vintage... but her Birkenstocked feet are a dead give-away of her Portland Hippie status... She's lovely and kind and dotting on The Husband.
The Husband, however, sporting a pressed flannel (I *said* Elegant Hippie! lol) and a straw hat complete with "man-band-bow" thingy - is a douche. How do I know this.......?
The Wife and The Husband were also returning from a wedding... but The Husband had not. ONE. nice. thing to say..... "Oh.... and can you *believe* where they sat Cousin Joe.....? It's as if The Bride's family had no respect for who he is and what he's accomplished in this life...... and who are "these people" - these "mountain folk"...... Did they even *go* to college......?"
And there was The Wife, nodding her soft gray hair and patting his leg with one long, extended hand adorned with rings and bracelets that banged together while she consoled him.....
"Honestly.... and did you *see* the food? Did you *see* what was passing for *salmon*!?!?!"
He makes this statement as though somehow the caterer was serving up fried cat and no one noticed this gourmet indiscretion but him.....
And there was The Wife - consoling him - as though someone had *DIED*.
And on and on and on it goes.... for nearly an hour- The Husband bemoans the seating arrangements and the music - "Can you *BELIEVE* they only played a few SInatra songs!?!?!" - and the food and the alcohol ..... "I mean, if you're going to serve second rate beer - then just let me pay for my own instead "host" a bar of Pabst Blue Ribbon's finest.... that's hardly doing me a favor......"
Umm... WHAT? Did this man JUST COMPLAIN ABOUT THE QUALITY OF HIS FREE BEER?
Did he *JUST* insinuate that The Bride and her ENTIRE family are "uneducated white trash" simply because they put "Cousin Joe" too far away from the head table?
I'm stunned... I can't read my book or turn up the Matisyahu on my Kindle fast enough to drown out The Husbands words which are drilling my head like a million teeny, tiny Ants of Insults.....
I'm thinking about how (most likely) this couple spent every penny they had to have THE. NICEST. WEDDING they could afford and how proud they were to display their love and commitment for one another to all their "family and friends" ... and how in a WORLD where commitment is something we can write on a McDonalds napkin and toss in a bin whenever we effing feel like... how REMARKABLE it is that this couple - and hundreds of others across the country - stepped up to the Marriage Table to give it their best Olympic shot and this complete, utter tosser of a human being can't muster any gratitude for his FREE beer?
And then...... I lose it.
I had just had enough. Traveling thousands of miles with two kids.. then without my kids and facing down the reality (again) of yet more things Ive lost at hands of El Capitan.... it's all just too much and so I do the *unthinkable*... no really - I'm not usually one to say something... but it's an AN HOUR people - AN HOUR!
So I put down my book and I say, "I'm sorry, I couldn't help hearing your story (of course since The Wife is practically sitting in my lap, it's hard not to hear.....) - and I'm so sorry that you had to face such awful conditions... was it an air conditioned ballroom.......?"
The Wife snaps her sweet gray-haired head my way and The Husband looks up in surprise....... and I continue:
"I'm not sure how you suffered through such harsh conditions..... much like children who are dying in Haiti due to a lack of clean water......? You see, people - innocent babies, die in their mother's arms because they can't get CLEAN WATER... but of course that pales in comparison to your horrific issue's with Free Pabst Blue Ribbon.... I can completely understand your plight."
Four little eyes blink in the darkness of the plane and I can hear the seats in front of us and in back of us shifting veeeeeery uncomfortably. But I'm not being rude, I'm talking in the same voice of genuine concern that The Husband did in regards to the HOURS they had to wait (simply HOURS) for the food to be served while the best man "droned" on through his toast....... and I say:
"I like to call those First World Problems..... because here you are - at the end of the weekend- flying in a PLANE, comfortably strapped in while pretty ladies bring us peanuts and crackers and free drinks..... and you're going to land and drive your (I assume) nice car to your nice home - the one with doors and windows and running water and a fridge full of food.... and there are people LIVING in this First World who don't have a fridge full of food... or a place to call home.... or even - .... wait for it - a pint of FREE Pabst Blue Ribbon.....we of course won't go into those pesky Third World Problems - like food, shelter - or even the RIGHT TO LIVE period."
More blinking....... but by now mouths are slightly agape as I say, "Indeed... that Bride's family sounds seriously uneducated to me......"
No one say's a word while I put my headphones back on, but behind me I hear a male voice chuckle.... "First World Problems... accurately classic....."
And as I settle down with my book (one by Sophie Kinsella) - I realize that my heartfelt problems are really just First World Problems, too.... that may be the moments in time *will* be different, but they will still be MINE and I have the power to make them whatever I want them be or ruin them with anger and hate and resentment for what we've all lost.....
Figuratively, I raise my glass of Diet Coke in a toast to That Bride and hope that HER Husband skipped the douche gene clearly running through his family for the sake of this moment in time..... and all those important moments yet to come for them.