For reasons too complicated to describe, my older sister, Sommer, decided to have an exotic wedding in a foreign country, which none of my poor family would be able to attend. Therefore, Sommer invited us to a reception, before the wedding. After all, it wouldn’t do to have a new brother-in-law named Casey, whom none of us had ever met. The reception was precisely 1358.23 miles away from San Diego, off the coast of Seattle, on Orcas Island. Mind you, this was all very last moment. With all our stuff tied on top of the luggage rack, we were four southern Californians who had no idea it rains 300 of the 365 days a year.
On Friday morning, on June 4th, I found myself packed into my mom’s Ford expedition with her, my brother, Jeff, and my uncle, stampeding towards Seattle. It was too late to get plane tickets that didn’t cost over a million dollars. Furthermore, we all had to be back to our jobs and classes by Monday.
No degree in math was required to realize that we would have to drive non stop to Seattle to get there on time. It is, therefore, very relevant to mention that both my brother, who is one year older than me, and I had just that month managed to finagle one driver’s license each, out of the California DMV, and were now legal, insured drivers. Meanwhile, my mother has never enjoyed the role of “driver’s training instructor,” so she drove until she was exhausted, getting us past the L.A. freeway maze, and all the way through California into Oregon. Then she crawled into the very back of the Expedition, moved around suitcases, conjured up a few pillows, and passed out. My uncle had already fallen asleep about three minutes after we hit the road, and only woke up when we stopped to eat.
That left my brother and I to carry on the burden of moving our collective mass to the proverbial reception in less time than what we had to get there. No problem. Any driver knows what it is like when one first gets his own license to drive. It is an important stepping stone. Actually, it’s a form of puberty rites that no one really admits — an initiation into manhood, if you want to get right down to it. And the important point here is that my older brother, Jeff, whom always does every thing better than me, was now my equal. In fact, I have to say here that I am actually a better driver than he is, although he would never confess to that. Never mind, the two of us joined forces with a mission to get my mom to that reception no matter what it took. And we were both a little curious to meet this Casey guy. We only have one sister after all, and the idea of having a new relative intrigued us.
The world changed in those wee hours of the morning, after the 18 wheeler crashed in front of us and we watched until they got the driver out of the upside down cab of the overturned rig. We kept our vigilance up, taking turns driving and talking about important things like good investment strategies and foreign relations, because we were now drivers and that made us technically “full grown'” men.
Driving off of the ferry, was, in truth, an entry into the Twilight Zone, minus the cliche tune to accompany the event. The reception was situated on an old farm that looked like the old pioneers still lived there in covered wagons. They had a huge pig skewered down the center and men that looked like cowboys cutting off the delicious meat in hunks. They had fiddlers playing atop bales of hay. And there were no paper plates — we ate on china.
Most importantly, we met Casey, who loved his green tractor and the rickety old cabin they lived in. At first we weren’t sure that he deserved Sommer, but that politically correct bias was soon dissolved in the joyous fellowship of welcoming a whole new group of in-laws into my family. My sister was never so beautiful as on that day, and she was so surprised to see us. The event was spectacular, delightful and meaningful. Needless to say, the reception was an event that I will never forget.
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