Monday, May 28, 2007

Don't listen to me

Whenever friends tell me they are getting married, the first word out of my mouth (sometimes after “congratulations”) is “elope!” I am of the belief that people spend too much money and emotional effort in weddings – when they should be putting all of it into anything that lasts longer than a day.

When Luca and I got married we had nine people present (including the two of us.) Even before then I begged him not to bother giving me a formal engagement ring. Our wedding day was simple: we tied the knot in our living room and then went to lunch at a lovely place with a wide ocean view. I needed nothing else.

Having said this, this Sunday I attended the wedding of my good friends David and Emma, and it was everything a wedding is supposed to be. They invited 70 of their closest family and friends and got married in what I’d describe as an outdoor museum in Sonoma called Cornerstone. It was a love filled, heartfelt, admirably organized (although never over-choreographed) affair.

The first part was the ceremony, held in a grassy garden with vineyards as backdrop. From where I was sitting I could see Emma’s hair and veil but not her face. I could see David’s though, and he was so joyful, earnest, and emotional I felt my heart fill. This was, in addition, the only ceremony I’ve attended that makes guests partially responsible for what they have accepted to be a part of. Call me thick, but maybe for the first time I understood the real reason behind inviting people. I carry this gift with me – this sense that, through the years, I have to do my part to make their marriage stronger, because I was there to witness their vows. (So, no winning at Scrabble, Emma!)

The second part was a brief cocktail with hors d’oeuvres and drinks. I admit I wasn’t too enthusiastic about Pimm’s (so sorry, Em), but did drink the fresh lemonade and absolutely loved the fava bean and English pea salad served on endives; the blue cheese set on green apple slices and the mini- bruschette.

Dinner was served under a large, circular tent in a garden lush with flowers (and lovely orange and green flower arrangements on each table.) If the tent-in-the-garden- surrounded-by-flowers description sounds corny to you, I can assure you it was not. It struck the right tone of celebration, romance, and joyful, festive family reunion.

As much as the food is usually the part I consider most notable (mixed green salad with grilled pears and goat cheese; wild mushroom stuffed chicken breast; olive oil poached halibut; chilled cous cous with vegetables and squash tossed in balsamic vinegar) the part I liked the most - besides the actual ceremony - was the Toasts. I saw a new side to my friends – the part that is attached to family, a history. The part that fills in the missing piece of where they came from.

Luca and I feel honored to have been part of this wedding. And, most of all, I am grateful to friends who decide to completely ignore my advice.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Do you have a secret?

I discovered this site through my sister Isabel.

They post new things all the time - I’ve been visiting for a few weeks now.

I’m so hooked.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Something Different

I don’t remember the first time I went to Puerto Vallarta. That’s how long I’ve been going there.

I used to walk barefoot on the cobblestone streets in my pajamas, swim in the open ocean, whine so I would be allowed to jump in the pool immediately after lunch (the answer was a consistent, steadfast no), listen to Guantanamera, take rides on a parachute pulled by a motorboat to see the world from a bird’s perspective, take long walks on the beach with my father or a brother or a sister or a stepmother or a friend, hold my breath under water from one end of the pool to the other, pretend to play chess, play backgammon, tan with coconut oil way before SPF, highlight my hair with beer, go dancing and eat tacos at the corner stand at 4:30 a.m. before heading back home under the light of the moon. I celebrated my birthday at the round dark wood table in that apartment at least 8 times before I turned 15. Puerto Vallarta was my default vacation spot all through high school and college.

It’s so different now. When I first started going, the Posada Vallarta was the only hotel in a long, pristine beach. Nuevo Vallarta didn’t even exist. Now there is traffic, shopping centers, a Starbucks, high-rise after high rise right on the sand and a real airport with an international wing with direct flights to Phoenix, Denver, San Francisco and who knows how many cities in Europe.

This weekend, lying on a cot under a Palapa, Salvador - the man who brought me a drink and whom I’ve known for at least 25 years - asked me what I thought of all the changes. I just looked at him and shrugged. He said sadly “I guess you can’t stop progress”.

I can’t talk about what Puerto Vallarta is like now because I have no perspective. I know it for what it used to be, and it’s definitely become something different. I guess that’s what happens to everything.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Some like it hot

The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.
Mark Twain

It's so hot. We never get these temperatures around here - maybe just five or six days a year, if that.

San Francisco is such a different place when the temperature is in the 80's. There are so many more people outside. Everyone comes out to stroll, to garden, walk their dogs, grill their dinner. They dress in pink and blue and green and orange and show skin and wear bikini tops and short shorts and flowy, strapless dresses and sandals and open their doors and windows to let the warm, dry air in.

On the beach, where you usually see everyone in hooded sweatshirts and often bundled up in blankets, even in the summer, I now see teeny bathing suits and striped towels and flip flops, as if this were LA. The heat and sun alters people's mood, including my own. In an already cheerful, laid back city, everyone seems so expansive and joyful, like we're celebrating something. Like we're all in on it.

I personally prefer cooler weather. I like gray skies and tall clouds and walking on the beach when it's just a bit nippy. Still, I have to admit this is a really lovely change of scenery. If only Mark Twain could see us now.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Anything at all

If I could wish for anything at all, I’d take my entire family (including my family on my husband’s side) and move them closer to me. Not super close, like next door. Also, not super close to each other. But, comfortable driving distance – say, two hours away. We could visit often and sending them things wouldn’t be hard so I’d surprise them with packages in the mail. I would send my mom books we could discuss and I’d send my dad a big box full of glasses because it makes me crazy that his keep getting chipped. I’d throw in a bottle of the whisky he likes so he could put at least one of the glasses to good use right away.

I wish I could be tele-transported. I’m sick of going through customs at the airport. I mean, taking off my shoes? Ick. Plus, I often want to be somewhere else, usually to eat something I liked in a restaurant in, say, New York. But, I want to be in my own bed right after dinner.

If I could be granted any wish I would have one of those pieces of furniture the Chinese used for herbs or medicines – those that have rows and rows of small drawers. I’d keep good feelings in them, so I could take one out whenever I wanted to re-live what the good feeling felt like.

I would definitely want a superpower. Maybe several. I’d like to fly, because I love heights, but I don’t like speed, so I’d fly around slowly. I’d also stop time. Or make it go faster. You know how time flies when you’re having fun? It wouldn’t.

If I could wish for anything at all, Luca would get to play soccer with his favorite team (Inter Milan.) I would blindfold him and take him to the stadium and then uncover his eyes. Maybe I’d let slip a few hints beforehand to avoid any possibility of a medical emergency. Also, I’d get him a Toyota Prius, the car of his dreams.

I wonder if it would be greedy to wish for the ability to reverse Global Warming. I mean, how far can I take this wishing thing?

And, is it not sad that even when I’m playing with the thought of asking for whatever I want I’m afraid to wish too big?

I definitely need more practice.