I am sitting in Tim's old bedroom, in the basement of his parent’s house where, nine years ago, his mom labeled me a 'bedfellow'. Rosalie would warn Tim that 'he knew the rules' and that 'bedfellows were not allowed' :) Now, nearly a decade later, I'm no longer just a 'bedfellow' but a 'wife', and I am sooo allowed! We are in Farmington, Missouri, our hometown, to celebrate our recent elopement with our friends and family. I am currently coming down from the crazy ridiculous high of having seen a surprisingly large percentage of all the people that we know and love in the same place, at the same time. The reception was on Saturday and while it was obviously the climax of our trip home, the events leading up to it are beyond worth mentioning. You wouldn't think that two short weeks in the tiny town you grew up in could shake you to your core, but it most definitely can.
I will never be able to convey the stress level that emerges when a newlywed couple plans their wedding reception to take place in Missouri, from San Diego, is entirely financially responsible, and doesn't hire any help. Even though we had started planning this months before we even got married, the party we planned ended up being far different than the party that took place. I was, however, more than satisfied with our end result. Our Missouri Wedding Adventure was immediately awesome because Dollar Rent-a-Car didn't have the small compact rental car we reserved. Instead, we were given a beautiful Toyota Sienna minivan for the same price. We undeniably needed it to perform multiple airport pickups and a Costco shopping spree but unfortunately couldn't reserve it because our budget wouldn't allow it. Total upgrade score. My initial anxiety was somewhat relieved as I was happy to finally get to my new in-law's house and physically account for all of the supplies and decorations I had ordered online and sent to Missouri. The first couple of days of our trip were relatively lax. We visited friends and ate at our most missed restaurants. It didn't become insanely stressful until Thursday morning, two days before the reception. That is when I began to prepare the food to feed one hundred people. Right in the middle of my meat cutting/pasta salad making madness, in walked all three of Tim's out-of-town siblings! We had been sure they couldn't make it but, they decided to surprise us! Cue involuntary tears. It's a rare thing to be able to round up all the Benz kids simultaneously. Total family score. Only moments had passed before I began to realize, and later learned that Rosalie, my mother-in-law was realizing simultaneously, that this could possibly* be totally destructive to our entire Benz-Francisco Reception operation. We have a strict timeline of tasks to adhere to and that timeline in no way includes consuming copious amounts of Natural Light. Over the years that I've known the Benz family, I've learned that any reunion of any members of this family who don't routinely get to see each other will result in an unadulterated shit storm of excessive beer drinking and Dr. Hook/Dean Martin sing alongs. Happens every. single. time. and while these episodes are inarguably hilarious, they are hardly conducive to what we had set into motion. Plus, we had to pick up my dad, sister, and best friend, Erin, at the airport at midnight and time was rapidly melting away. Lucky for me, Tim and I stayed on the same page and although he was very happy and grateful to have everyone there, he put the partying on hold until the actual party and we were able to collect our loved ones as scheduled.
Family time, for me, is something that coincides with miscommunication, high anxiety, and a complete lack of cooperation. I'm speaking, of course, of my immediate family. My Mom, my Dad, and my sister, Emily. I can say now, at 28 years old, that I love my parents very much in spite of the tumultuous childhood with which they provided me. I know now that they did the best they could with the resources available to them, and I have learned to see them as humans who make mistakes and poor decisions from time to time. I am able to recognize and appreciate how amazingly supportive my mother was as I somehow have always managed to choose the least conventional path. My sister and I have also had a rocky relationship due to the fact that we are so different from each other in almost every way possible that we have a hard time relating to each other. Now, I adore her and her eccentric strangeness. She is my little sister, my only sister, and I love her :) Regardless of the love I have for each of them separately, the thought of us all co-existing for even a day causes my blood pressure to rise and brings me uncomfortably close to a panic attack. Further, the thought of having to dad-sit at my mother and father-in-law's house for the weekend made my rising anxiety level skyrocket but, by the grace of god, my dad calmed my fears and greatly exceeded my pre-conditioned low expectations when he excitedly took on the role as happy, helpful father-of-the-bride, which made room for me to breathe. A little. My dad, on the in-law's farm, was like a kid in a candy shop with no adult supervision. He couldn't get enough of it and didn't know where to start. It was like he was back at home or something and I will always cherish being able to see him so alive.
24 hours out and this monster was starting to resemble a well oiled machine. Cupcakes were baking, favor boxes were being stuffed, balloons were being filled and Kali, my new niece and the coolest seven year old I've ever met, was equipped with an iPod that blared Pink's #1 hit, Let's Get This Party Started, on repeat. Hell yes. All the other grown-ups were annoyed, I thought she was hilarious.
So I think I've forgotten to mention that the whole two weeks in Farmington, was a crazy lightning and thunderstorm tornado extravaganza. My husband and I, accustomed to San Diego's typical 70 degrees and sunny, invited over 100 people to an outdoor party in the Mid-west. In the middle of tornado season. Yaaay...! My unofficial maid-of-honor, Erin, and I were at Wal-Mart getting last minute supplies when Tim texted me that Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (the airport that some of our guests were using) had just gotten part of its roof removed by an aggressive funnel cloud. Oh, and that storm cell that produced that angry cloud was on its way to us. By the time Erin and I had gotten back to my in-laws, we could hear the echoes of the warning sirens wailing back "in town". We frantically unloaded our party goods as we listened to the emergency broadcast computer guy tell us to take cover. We had expected to immediately run down into the basement to join an attempt to take shelter but no. All the guys are playing dominoes in the kitchen like it ain't no thang. Like there is no risk of impending doom blowing through the open windows. So instead of rushing to safety, Erin and I made a huge platter of sub sandwiches for these starving drunk men.
Needless to say, we survived the night. On the day of our wedding celebration, I awoke early to yet another thunderstorm and accepted the fact that we were going to be celebrating in the rain. To be quite honest, the rest of the day is a blur to me. I don't remember every moment but I do remember how it felt. I remember the energy in the air and all the love. Throughout my blog, I continually refer to myself as a very lucky girl. I can't help but reiterate this, because I am constantly reminded of it. In addition to an abnormally awesome husband, I have a handful of exceptionally beautiful people that will be my best friends for life, no matter what parts of the country we are all scattered among. I have a family network that loves me and supports me, no matter how horrible I am at keeping in touch. In the wake of our celebration, I’ve been struck with a lingering emotion that I have never experienced before. I am left feeling overwhelmingly thankful for everyone who spent hours with us helping put it all together, for everyone who got on airplanes and drove for hours to congratulate and celebrate us, for all the surprises both planned and un-planned that formed the amazing memories I will hold with me forever. Yep. I am a lucky girl.