Monday, May 30, 2011

Family Sudoku

Joel, having a much larger percentage of the wedding party to please, was thereby appointed to come up with a table layout that would make the most people happy. Round tables seating six? eight? ten? One very long table? an "E" shaped table? As of yesterday, it was decided that a "U" might make things best for our intimate catered family dinner following the afternoon ceremony.

Of course, having only six people that I would be responsible to be concerned about in this process...and all of them fairly easy to please...I immediate dove into the world of table arrangements and napkin colors.

With brow furrowed, Joel stared out the window- wondering if it should really be a "U". Maybe it should be a capital "T". Or, maybe round tables indeed.

This was rather frustrating to me. In the eight hours he had been doubting his decision, I had already been making inquiries and tentative commitments to the quantities of succulents I would need for my master runner-of--contemporary-greenery concept. Nay! His table layout was wonderful, perfect- inspired, even!

So, to convince him, I created something of a Family Sudoku board. I placed it out as best as I could on the dinner table. Ta-da! He came over and said, "Hmm...that is a nice table layout." and began to rearrange the names. After a few, "Oh, hmm, maybe..."s and a couple of, "definitely not!"s, we came up with several possible seating arrangements.

In the meantime, I am very excited about table arrangements. Excited to make something worthy of on of my first business idols, Casey Cooper, the talent and entrepreneur (now retired) who began the incredible Chicago event floral company Botanicals- the company who I had the honor of being their very first ever intern after persuading her that having an intern to begin with, me in particular, was a fantastic idea.

Whether or not she recalls me, whether or not she believes that having me as an intern (or interns at all!) was a good idea, I had a fantastic time the summer I spent there. Watching Quentin create Manzanita chandeliers strewn with exotic orchids, seeing fruity Jesse running about in silk shirts and freaking out over "these napkins are pink! I specifically ordered rose!", that one designer whose name I can't remember who got really angry at me and almost got me thrown out. Most of all, the gorgeous arrangements. The floating pool arrangement for the yacht party of that one Chicago Bear's player. The photos from Oprah's 50th birthday. The wedding set up we did for some rich gal's wedding at the Planetarium right on the lake.


I suppose I still hold a place in my heart for the floral industry, even if I wasn't cut out for the drama it would take to be a successful business owner in it.

I have a brilliant idea for table centerpieces. Stunning. Modern. Covertly frugal and "green" without sacrificing any of the elegance and creative uniqueness. I didn't even steal it from anyone! (originally, I had intended to steal the concept for some arrangements I remember creating at Botanicals- but I came up with a better idea)

Flowers. Joel hardly knows that I've been planning my wedding flowers for the last five years.

Casey Cooper- you may never read this- but you're going to be proud.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Leaps and Bounds ahead!

My mom came down to visit this week to help me spend a day making a dent in the warehouse- and filling the gymnasium for our upcoming all-you-can-carry sale. But there were more unexpected surprises in store.

She arrived when I had stepped out to the post office, and I knew something was up the moment I walked in the door. Joel was grinning and before the "hellos!" were even made, someone announced that we were going shopping for our first wedding gift- electrical supplies!

With the financial support from gracious eBayers Donna Hathecoat and Pamala Hammond, I was already ecstatic to have been able to purchase the can lights. Joel and I bought them late last week- thinking that if I worked hard on the shops, perhaps, maybe, possibly, by the time he installed them we would have saved enough to by the wire to run between them. And then, maybe, after that, we'd have saved the money to by the wire to go to the breaker box. It seemed feasible.

But, my family just completely gave us the resources to work full speed on the rooms downstairs for the next three weeks- giving us a HUGE head start on the two gorgeous rooms that will be used for our reception/party....and then later in October for our first art show.

Not moments after I had walked in were we all skipping back out. Joel spent at least thirty minutes combing the aisles of Lowe's with the talented Dan Mustain's detailed parts list (Dan owns Midwest Electric, and is our resident go-to man for all things electrical). We even had enough in the budget for some new electrical tools (wire strippers, etc)- as the ones we were working with were leftovers from the school and just not really that fantastic.

A great many warm and astounded "thank yous!" to my Mom and Dad, to my Aunt Dj and Uncle Ken, and to Uncle Garrett, who pooled their resources to give us this most welcome gift. It's probably the strangest wedding gift you all will ever give- but I can tell you that it'll be the most appreciated, too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Less and More.

Too tired to work anymore, I sat propped in the south corner of the pigeon's nest- watching Joel and Terry throw up the last few pieces of drywall. I must have begun to fall asleep; you know, that stage of falling asleep where you become only half aware of the noises and movements around you- where your stream of conscious becomes louder than the squeal of the drywall jack as your mind sorts through itself, wrapping up loose ends, before it drifts off.

I began to think about what the room we were working in will be like when it's done. How it will feel to draw warm laundry out of a dryer in the sunshine, what the air would smell like as cool autumn rain intermingled with the scent of laundry soap. Winter will come...hmm...winter. Maybe we'd get to finally have a Christmas tree. Our first Christmas tree. Our first Christmas tree as a real, bonafide family!

But then I thought of my parent's Christmas tree and felt a wave of sadness. I've been so excited about being committed not just in my heart to Joel- but in the eyes of all of our family, friends, and community. So nervous about what it'll be like being a wife, biting my lips over the endless possibilities of things greater than ourselves we finally be able to achieve. It just hit me- that whole part where a woman and man leave their families to join as has more than just the joining bit.

Even though I'm not leaving- there is a shift.

I suppose I felt it a little last Christmas. Joel has a fractured family with several households- I've only ever spent Christmas with my own. My own little tight knit Elston four-person family. Even at that- times at home always seemed too short. But last Christmas, having to split the short day with some many people, cheapened the entire thing. It was a lot of running- and not much loving. Now, I'm really getting more family- does it mean less of my own? And what of the "new" family Joel and I will be? Does it mean my family will think of me less of an Elston because of a percentage of me is technically something else?

I just don't know what to say. I am so grateful for my family. If, for the rest of my life, nothing ever went right again- I would still count myself among the most blessed people in the history of the world because of the love they have shared and the things they have taught me. But now, I'm making a decision to branch off of the tree, so to speak, and grow into and around another.

I had pushed most of these thoughts to the back of my mind as I worked doing my usual shop upkeep today. But, as I settled in to create the invitations for the small group of loved ones invited to our ceremony, it all welled inside again.

What was meant to be a separate page simply detailing the comings and goings of Friday (not explained on the Saturday postcards for the BBQ)- turned into a note I had trouble putting into words and keeping brief. It's always hard to know when your heart pours over if it will be understood- so I hope my letter-ish invitation to my family reads with this message:

I love you.

You've done well loving and raising me.

The best way I can thank you is promising to do the same in this new family we're making.

I sealed the envelope, so even an hour later I can't go back and reread my thoughts. I'd probably find a misspelled word or something and get all irritated. I'm hand drawing/coloring the few Friday invitations, and it took me a billion years to make my immediate family's because I didn't know what I going back now.

My last name is going to change. I'm going to have a whole new title- a whole new responsibility. People are going to look at me differently, strangers will have a different set of expectations when they read my name with the prefix "Mrs.".

In my heart though, I know that I will always have a ferocious loyalty to the very few I call my family, I will always have an ingrained sense of what is right and just, and I will always feel like I'm late if I'm not twenty minutes early.

Whatever changes on September 23rd between 3 and 4 in the afternoon- whomever I become as this new person in this new role- it will be built solidly on being an Elston.