The day was drenched in mist that turned into larger drops of rain as she traveled through the twisting tree-lined roads of Marin. The greenery was old and time had created a canopy of leaves above the path of asphalt and motion. She drove through the white mist that turned the trees into a shade of magical green and scented the air with eucalyptus and lavender. As the drops hit her windshield she wondered if a bride’s wedding was being ruined. She would find out soon.
She had on her uniform of tight black Dickies and a collared black shirt. Neither of the garments fit her very well. The pants were just slightly too short, even for her 5’3 frame, and they seemed to like to burrow themselves between the cheeks of her ass. It was always slightly uncomfortable, and during each catering event, she would vow to get some new ones, but then she would forget again until the next wedding required they be pulled out of the closet again, and then she would remember and pull herself into them.
She drove until she found the Marin Art and Garden Center which was a sprawling piece of land with many chambers that could host multiple functions at the same time. The sound of a fountain greeted her as she walked up the couple of steps that separated the parking lot from the entrance. She walked up a curving path that passed a bursting rose garden that smelled electric in the slightly muggy air. After a sharp right at the rose garden, she followed the path that led to a green lawn.
On the lawn, but slightly to the right, was a long rectangular three-sided tent. One wall was open and exposed the interior. There were multiple rugs on the ground that covered and protected it against the damp grass. In the center was a foot tall coffee table that held a couple of glass votives with candles. Dozens of pillows were strewn on the ground, creating a harem-style lounge area. To the left of the soaked lawn was a narrow wooden deck that was covered in a slanted beige canopy of canvas. The moist air released the scent of the deck. Even after countless people had tread upon it, it still held the power of the smell. The deck was met with sliding glass doors that opened into the rectangular banquet hall and hidden from sight, the kitchen.
There were a couple of people inside, dressed in black, rolling tables out from their storage space in the large closet. A couple of others were carrying plastic crates of plates and wine glasses and ceramic coffee cups up from the dolly which was parked out by the stairs that led to another storage shed. She quickly found out what tasks needed to be done. She spent the next hour and a half arranging place settings and unfolding chairs and rolling napkins into little scrolls.
Her supervisor gathered all the people in black into a little group.
“Okay, we got word that it is dumping up on Mt. Tam (the place were the ceremony was taking place). They said that they are coming here a little earlier than expected. Everyone is cold and wet and grouchy. The kitchen is brewing some hot tea for them now. Please do your best to make everyone feel really welcome and cared for, even if they are grouchy.”
“So lets do our best to finish everything up before they get here. Is there someone who can man the tea station?”
“Sure, I can.”
She walked to the rectangular table adorned with a crisp white table cloth and votives that fought against the wind to remain lit.
Within a couple minutes, guests started arriving. She smiled at them as they passed and offered them some tea. Most were more than friendly and quite grateful to be given something warm. Most of the women were wearing short dresses, wholly unprepared for the task of looking nice and staying warm, it was one or the other.
After a while, a crowd had gathered below the canopy, although some had refused to stand out in the drizzle any longer and sat at their circular tables in the banquet room. There was the comfortable murmur of chit chat over cocktails.
Then an angular small white car, one that could have been seen in England in the early 60s, drove down the narrow asphalt pathway that ran between the grass of the harem tent and the larger lawn. Applause erupted among the guests and two tall people emerged into the drizzle that thudded against a canopy tent.
The bride was olive skinned and lean. Her dark hair was pulled back into a twisted elegant braid that was bundled near her neck. Her dress was sleeveless, reveling her bony shoulders. The skirt of her pure white dress was long and skimmed the wet grass. The groom, just a little taller than she was, was wearing a gray suit to match the color of the clouds.
Her father, waiting beneath the canopy, held a microphone in his hand. In his thick Israeli accent he said, “if it’s going to rain, then let it rain!”
The DJ sparked a Michael Jackson song as the father jumped out into the drizzle and ran to his daughter with open arms, a wide smile spreading across his face. He grabbed his son-in-law and kissed him on the forehead. Other guests followed his lead. Some women took off their shoes and stepped into the soft earth. The couple was surrounded by fifty people, each one giving them hugs and words of congratulations. The majority of the guests stayed below the eaves, watching the merriment from afar.
The girl in black watched with the crowd below the eaves. She shared their joy. Tears came to her eyes. She heard the voice of her friend, “let the energy flow through you.”
The song faded and then a Klezmer band, which stood close to the couple, beneath the cover of trees, burst into song. The people quickly formed into a circle, bound by clasped hands. The circle spun and spun and eventually a small inner circle formed of the bride, the groom, the father of the bride and two other people. They spun in the opposite direction of the larger circle.
Four men stood close to a padded chair that had been draped in satin cloth. The bride sat in it and the group each took a chair leg and hoisted her high up into the air, bouncing her up and down. The bride clung onto the seat with her white-knuckled hands. Complete joy and terror mingled on her face, she let out a scream as the men lifted her chair up and down. The groom held onto a marigold colored napkin, he swung it around the air like a stripper that had just taken off his first garment. He swung it and then tossed it gently to his bride, she too waved it in the air. Then she held the napkin out to him and he managed to grab an end of it and they both held on as their chairs moved un-rhythmically.
The night was long. There were small plates of salad delivered and cleared. Family-style plates of food were delivered to each table. Hundreds and hundreds of different shaped glasses that were filled and then put back dirty into the plastic crates in which they arrived. The girl in black listened to loving toasts and worked as hard as she could to make sure everyone at her assigned tables was content.
Then the guests left one by one and soon is was how it began, with a small crew dressed in black. They were just about done, she was finishing the final sweep of the deck area. She looked into the night, into the lawn area where the two satin covered chairs of the bride and groom sat beneath the trees. But in the groom’s seat, was the leader of the Klezmer band. She had seen him walking around all night without any shoes on, wandering between the bar and the harem-lounge area. She smiled at him.
“What do you think it would be like to be married?” he asked into the dark night.
Many thoughts filled her mind, but she didn’t way anything.
“Come and imagine it with me,” he said.
She went to sit down on the chair, carrying her broom beside her like a scepter.
“Oh, it’s wet,” she said surprised. She stood.
“Okay, we can stand,” he said.
She looked into the empty lawn of grass, at the three horizontal strings of rounds bulbs that hung artfully above the grass. She imagined dancing and laughter and a happy father. She looked at the man next to her.
“I’m sure that day would be very nice, but I just can’t picture myself in it. I don’t think it is something that would happen for me. I feel like I am married already, but I can’t imagine a party like this.”
He smiled, his eyes nearly closed slits.
“Look at all those lights hanging up, no one owns the light, no one owns the light. Go to where the light is.”
She nodded and then he smiled. He nodded distantly and then smiled again. He seemed to shrink, as though something had shifted. He disappeared into the night, stepping back into the tent and the trees.