The bride was a stranger to me

The bride was a stranger to me. I read the wedding invitation, well the parts that were in English at least. The groom, his parents and grandparents also strangers to me were named in the invitation. The small response card slipped out of the envelope and landed on the floor. I scooped it up in my hand and filled it out. We, my partner and I were invited together. Both our names written out on the invitation, just like a real couple. Today, in most of the northeast at least, we are a real couple. Our relationship has been deemed legal and otherwise legitimate by the state of Connecticut, and now by Cousin Laura, mother of the bride.

Laura just two years older than me was my favorite playmate growing up. She and her brother, with their bright red hair and fair complexions were my first cousins. We played house on their porch with our plastic plates and silverware, swam in their pool, and played games in their basement.

“Did you get the invitation?” I asked my sister in law.

“What invitation?” She asked with her kids crying in the background.

“Cousin Laura’s” I shouted over the kid’s cries.

“No, but I’m sure were going” she said

I wanted to make sure my brother was going. Our father had died less than a year ago and I felt a sense of familial obligation to attend the wedding, for us all to attend the wedding. Ironically, I might not have received an invitation if my father hadn’t died.

It was just after he passed, when the trees were bare but it had yet to snow that my cousin made the two hour drive to pay her respects. We had not seen each other in over 15 years. After a brief chat on the phone, she took my address and drove up from Long Island to Connecticut.

I was nervous about seeing her. She didn’t know I was remarried, or ever married as far as I could recall, she, a conservative Orthodox Jew, me a lesbian with four children.

I had missed her wedding when I was in college and she missed mine because I knew she would never come so I didn’t invite her. Both of us shared a common love for our grandmother but after she passed, well, life has a way of getting away from you, we lost touch.

When the wedding invitation arrived in the mail, I knew we would be attending a religious wedding. What other kind is there when you are an Orthodox Jew. There would be no Wiccan princess from the coven marrying this bride and groom, no rent a rabbi either. This was a wedding played by the book.

And so without ever saying anything to each other, my cousin Laura invited my wife and I to the wedding. We communicated through Facebook once or twice but I was never sure how much she understood about my wife, my kids, my life, and really, I can’t say I understood the choices she had made in her life.

My aunt reminded us weeks before the wedding to dress modestly, which was not so much a problem for me and my wife. We already dressed modestly but more out of laziness then modestly. So in our long dress and long skirt with shirt sleeves to the elbows, we made our way into Brooklyn. The GPS directed us to a neighborhood that came right out of a story by Shalom Aleichem. The stores signs were all written in Hebrew and with rare exception, they looked run down or even closed for business. The streets were teeming with families, big families, and always walking behind a stroller. The men dressed in black suits with black brimmed hats and their wives dressed to the teeth with their wigs and gold jewelry. The caravans of children followed suit in identical outfits.

We entered Eden Palace to find a grand entryway complete with crystal chandeliers. Once inside, we quickly spotted my aunt and after hugs and kisses made our way to the buffet. Whatever ideas I had about kosher cuisine were quickly replaced by an array of food that dazzled the eyes and the stomach. It was only cantaloupe and yet it was the sweetest most delicious fruit I had ever tasted. Small bits of cantaloupe sat in martini glasses like a pyramid. It was eat and waited for someone else to make the first move. The stations of food went around the room and this was only the beginning. While we sat and ate, my aunt’s friend took it upon herself to be our tour guide and explained each part of the wedding as it unfolded.

The bride is seated on what could only be described as a thrown

[this story ends here]

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