A Phoenix Burning


Nineteen years ago today we woke up to snowplows clearing the roads after a very large snowstorm dropped well over a foot of snow in the Northeastern US. It was a beautiful, sparkly snow that blanketed the ground and yet the timing was problematic…. it threatened to keep several travelers home, unable to attend my wedding. However, the sun blazed bright and the highways cleared, and no one had to cancel at the last minute.

We were “young”…I had just turned 23, Zan was 25. Both fresh out of college. (And I mean fresh…both of us finished in December.) I remember quite clearly my bridal shower that had taken place the day just three weeks before.
“So, where are you working?”

“I have been waitressing part time at the Country Club.”

“Oh, well, where is Zan working?”

“Well, he hasn’t found a job yet.”

“Where are you going to live?”

“Well, we haven’t quite figured that out either.”

And then the looks of concern.

“Don’t worry! We’ll live in the rent-by-the-night motel on Route 9 if we have to.”

Uncomfortable laughter.

But I meant it. Somehow, we knew we would be okay and that it would all fall into place. I look back and wonder why I wasn’t scared out of my mind…but I wasn’t. We were excited to start our life together and the idea of failure never crossed our minds.

As it turned out, it all did fall into place. Zan got a full time job as a care provider at a residential facility for handicapped adults (we had plenty of experience after our summers at Camp Wilton…see this post). I started a new full time job as a teaching assistant at my old Middle School (complete with full health benefits! Yahoo!) the Monday before the wedding, and continued working nights waitressing at the Club. And the week after the shower, we put our down payment on an apartment in Saratoga Springs, NY. The monthly rent was more than we had hoped to pay, but again, we simply knew we could make it work. On New Years Day we shopped for our new furniture to be delivered mere days before the wedding, and by this time nineteen years ago, everything was in place and ready for our new life.

Of course, things weren’t perfectly smooth leading up to the actual wedding. I was in the Emergency Room a few days prior needing breathing treatments and steroids for a horrific asthma flare…we had spent a day moving in boxes and unpacking our kitchen wares. Little did we realize that a cat had “illegally” been residing with its owner in our new apartment. The cat food under the radiator was a dead giveaway. I am deathly allergic to cats. Thankfully, our landlord sent in a crew to thoroughly steam clean the rugs a second time, and sent a cleaning crew in to scrub every nook and cranny, along with painting the entire apartment. All ended well.

And then there was the fact that the bridesmaid who was going to wrap our long stemmed roses for our bouquets didn’t order the flowers, expecting that I had taken care of that small detail. Have you ever tried to order six dozen long stemmed red and white roses the Friday afternoon before your Saturday morning wedding? I was laughed off the phone a couple of times until I reached a local florist who said, “No problem. What time would you like them delivered?” I could have crawled through the phone and kissed her.

And little did I know that my bridesmaids had to spend time secretly repairing their dresses before the wedding because of the shoddy work done by the dressmaker. We had their dresses made fairly inexpensively…apparently I hadn’t yet learned the lesson “if a price seems too good to be true, then it is.” They valiantly tried to shelter me from this news, but it became glaringly obvious when they were ironing their dresses the morning of our Big Day, and I noticed some stitching in the middle of the skirting where it looked like scissors had cut a four inch line in the middle. “Don’t even look,” they said, steering me away from the ironing board. I knew that story would be saved for another day. My sister was wearing her large bow off her dress (remember this was 1993…bows were still fashionable….I think?) on top of her head by the end of the day. Ah, well the dress looked better without it come to think of it.

The wedding itself? Oh, what a cherished memory it is. I will never forget the moment I stepped into the Church and looked around. Nearly everyone I cared about in the same room at the same time…simply an overwhelming and beautiful sight. The Catholic Priest who baptized me, married us and shared the altar and pulpit with Zan’s Pastor from the Lutheran Church…that in itself was a beautiful thing. Then the party…oh, what a party it was! Our reception was at the Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs…you could look up the hill at our new apartment from the building. We ate and ate, and drank, and ate and danced and laughed and cried and danced and ate some more. Well into the night, I remember seeing Zan grab a tray off the Italian pastry cart and take them around to people at the tables. I’ve never been to a wedding with so many people on the dance floor. We extended the reception two extra hours because everyone was having such a good time. Our wedding party and my family were the last to leave at 11:00pm, taking with us memories to last a lifetime and very sore feet.



Tomorrow we celebrate nineteen years of marriage…we are proud of the life we’ve built and never could have guessed at the trials that have made us stronger and joys that have blessed us through the years. We are so very fortunate. Maybe we’ll even throw another party some day, adding to the guest list all those friends and family we have added along the way. Oh, what a party it will be!



12 responses

  1. What a story!
    Happy Anniversary! May you spend MANY more happy years together β™₯

    January 15, 2012 at 12:11 pm

  2. Kate

    What a happy memory and story! I’ve been married now for 22 years, and it has yet to become boring! Happy anniversary!

    January 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    • Boring? Never! πŸ™‚ I long for a little boring sometimes! LOL
      Thank you.

      January 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm

  3. Wonderful story!! Happy Anniversary!! Hubby and I will celebrate 20 years together this April and we are still the very best of friends. My wedding dress had similar puffy sleeves….oh, the 90’s!

    You were a beautiful bride. DO throw a party! We did on our 15th and it was SO MUCH FUN! I created a slideshow of images of us from the time we were babies until present day and also, had 16 x 20 enlargements of some of them on stakes around the yard. Hilarious!

    January 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    • Oh, yes…I had to have the puffy sleeves….and sparkles….and dangly things….and lacey parts. I wanted it all! LOL.
      Funny how things change….If I had to do it all again, I would have the simplest, lightest dress in the place…..preferably stretchy. πŸ˜‰

      Love the photo ideas! We really would love to throw a party for all our family and friends. We’ll see what we can pull off. πŸ™‚

      January 15, 2012 at 9:38 pm

  4. Great pictures! Throw me into the mix too as a puffy sleeved bride of the early 90’s! Is that the electric slide in the last picture? I think I have a picture of me in the same position from my wedding! Have a wonderful day tomorrow!

    January 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    • Yes! That was the Electric Slide! Too funny. πŸ™‚ I have an even funnier shot of the Chicken Dance…ah, weddings.

      We had a Date Day yesterday to celebrate. Out to breakfast and then the usual romantic trip to the home improvement store! LOL My, how priorities change over the years. πŸ™‚ Tomorrow we’ll celebrate the day with our kids. They’ve been our biggest blessing after all.

      January 15, 2012 at 9:43 pm

  5. Happy Anniversary and many more . . . but wait! Not one single person in that bridal party looks old enough to even be dating let alone getting married! What were you thinking???? Oh. Well that’s all right then.

    The Cowboy is all wriggly–he loves puffy sleeves. Miss Sadie is doing her spin dance–she’s a 90s sort of girl herself. I am remembering sitting next to Dan Neal at the wedding reception for his daughter Meghan and her lovable Grant. Dan was beaming and beaming. “Everywhere I look,” he said, “I see someone I love.” And that is the very best reason I can think of for having a big party to celebrate these important milestones. They have a way of reminding us how rich we are in all the things that matter.

    January 15, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    • Oh, Gerry, what WERE we thinking?!?! I look back and think we must have been crazy to think we could pull it off. And as a parent, I can only now imagine how our parents must have felt as we dove head first into marriage. They were extremely supportive, but I’m sure there must have been worry galore.

      I am so glad we were crazy and foolish—it is far and above the best decision we ever made. πŸ™‚

      As for the wedding party, the only one underage was my sister who was my Maid of Honor at the age of fourteen. Our wedding party treated her like a Princess that day. Another cherished memory. πŸ™‚

      January 16, 2012 at 8:26 am

  6. Very cool to read about the story of your wedding. Wow–what challenges getting started! Congratulations on your anniversary. You were a beautiful bride and you two look so in love.

    January 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm

  7. Wonderful story – thanks for sharing! And yes, the pictures did remind me a lot of Karma’s wedding too!

    February 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm

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