Would’ve been 32 years today.
For both of us, the wedding was an annoyance (we thought the Buddhist reverend was a twit) and the reception was chaotic. We didn’t get to enjoy the string quartet we’d insisted upon. I have a dim memory of us roaming from table to table, socializing with Karen’s relatives. There was a mini-scandal when one of her female relatives combed her hair with a dinner fork. Another mini-scandal afterwards, when one of the presents was a vase with WITH THANKS FROM SUMITOMO BANK written on its underside.
It was a blur, even at the time — not just a matter of the passing years smudging it all into a kaleidoscopic memory; it was kaleidoscopic even then. The hotel where we had the reception gave us a honeymoon suite with an enormous hot tub. Karen always claimed that her dad looked sick when he saw the honeymoon suite, as if he could imagine his little girl getting defiled soon afterward. We had an okay wedding night, no major olympic feats; we were both tired, and even then she lacked the stamina to have a full day of excitement followed by a night of the same.
She was a beautiful bride. She always did pretty-up nicely with makeup, and she did it so rarely I’d joke she was a different woman. The woman I fell in love with didn’t wear makeup. Not that I minded . . . although there was always that little trace of “what the hell are you doing with me” in the back of my mind.
And even now there are flashes when I don’t realize she’s gone. I was looking at a locum tenens headhunter email the other day. They wanted someone to cover a Northern California facility for various dates in the Fall. I thought about what life might be like post-retirement, and whether I might want to do a gig like that . . . and I had a moment’s concern about how rough it might be for Karen to accompany me on such trips. Travel wasn’t easy for her.
Such moments are rare nowadays. They’re brief, sudden, like involuntary reflexes.