July, a better part of a decade ago: I woke up in my condo to head to Huntington Beach to setup for a wedding. My good friends and I, all being in production-related jobs, were meeting at a city-owned property that overlooks a large, open field about a mile or so from the coastline waiting for a truck to show up (as we often had). We didn’t have much work to do, but our desire to be all the more meticulous was palpable that day. Thanks to the client, we were able to bring some beer and enjoy the summer sun as we hung lengthy festoon lights and gobo-loaded lekos, a small audio package…really, couldn’t have been more of “the usual” to us; it was something we did often in the years we had known each other. In that way, it was like any other gig, but one that I knew I wouldn’t all too easily forget.
I remember pretty vividly the breeze that day; carefree and unknowing which day it belonged to. The day felt like it was life-changing, and indeed it was! This wasn’t just any wedding, it was that of one of “us” and was greatly anticipated. If not by everyone present, certainly by me. I know the struggle that had come getting to this point and the bride’s meticulousness in detailing the set dressings, guest flow, even (and especially) the technical aspects added all the more to the gravity of the day. It was very important to me that we got this right. In fact, I was so focused on these points and on what we were doing that I almost missed the stage manager telling me that it was time to go get ready. At that point, I bid the crew good luck with the remainder of the setup and made my way to the hotel to get dressed for the big event.
Shortly thereafter, while getting ready, a photographer knocked at my door to capture the occasion. He took several pictures at that point of rather trivial things: me adjusting my tie, my hair, clear nervousness on my visage. My best friend Dan was there by then, doing what he normally does to break tension: making ridiculous (and inappropriate) statements about everything and nothing. He knew it was an important day to me and I was glad to have him there. We departed for the venue and I remember my palms already sweating profusely, getting more and more nervous the closer we got.
Once we arrived, I was shuttled around to the rest of the setup to “verify” things for the bride. I found myself incapable of thinking clearly though, so I’m afraid I wasn’t much help. It felt like an eternity, but the photographer had reconvened with us and was ushering me to the front of the property where they wanted to capture what I will always remember as the longest seven seconds of my life. They took some photos of me in front of this beautiful, old house that is there, then eventually had me face away from the street and parking lot and stood directly in front of me. Suddenly the personification of my past, present, future, identity, family, life, love, (and my very self) gently reached up and placed her hand on my right shoulder…the best. seven. seconds. It was the end of everything as I knew it; all the crap I had gone through, all the crap she had gone through, the fight we had endured apart (and together) to get to these seven seconds. It was all over now. Peace. Carefree…not unlike the afternoon breeze that had visited me hours ago.
The remainder of the day was a blur, a flurry of tears and laughter, friends (both old and new), family (both old…and new). It was a day that I’ve been told was enjoyed by everyone, if only because of how honest and raw the entire night was. We were ourselves. We were made new that night. On July 30th, 2011, Kimberly and I were joined in marriage; seven years ago, today. If you weren’t there, it was hands down one of my favorite days, inscribed forever thereafter on my heart (and now on my left elbow), only matched now by a day in May and one in November a few years apart on which each of our sons were born.
We’ve had our ups and downs in the last seven years, but ultimately each year could’ve been contained within each one of those nerve-wracking seconds leading up to my first look at her that day. While I waited for her to stroll up behind me and reach out her hand to turn me toward my future, wild expectations flooded my thoughts. Thoughts of what our kids would be like, what our careers and jobs would turn out to be, where we would live in the future, how our families would mesh together. In time, all our realities have come into focus and have made those expectations fade into nothingness and irrelevancy. My life has become something significantly more than I ever could’ve dreamed of or planned for. She is the embodiment of God’s redemption and I’m thankful every minute of every day that she loves me.
Happy anniversary, Kimberly Ann…these have been the best 7 (plus) years of my life and I can’t wait to see what the rest of our years hold for us.