In tribute to the end of The Season, I thought I’d share a story from one of the weddings I went to this summer.
What I did not find on this trip was a tall, handsome Dutchman. Shame. What I did find however was just as typical of the awesomeness of a L’Abri wedding.
So, a week or so out from the blissful occasion, I get a facebook message from a friend I met in Switzerland, whom I haven’t really heard from since our days at L’Abri, saying how she knows it’s last minute, but she’d like to invite me to her wedding and would love to see me, that Erin and Emily and Jon and George and Eileen and Charlie and Beth were gonna be there. Wow!
Knoxville. I’ve never been to Knoxville. Fun. And to get to see so many people! So I look at plane tickets. Impossible. So I google driving directions. Hmmmm, 13 hours. That’s not so bad. It’s just like driving to the other side of Texas. I can totally do that.
So I pack my bags, download audiobooks from the library, and head East. I have friends in Little Rock, otherwise, not even a professional reading of The Picture of Dorian Grey could have kept me sane for 13 straight hours. And so Friday night I’m in Little Rock, watching extended versions of Harry Potter, enjoying free, and not fast, food, and a nice long shower.
I go to bed and wake early. And then it hits me like a punch in the gut: a vivid image of my brown, cotton dress hanging on the closet door… in my bedroom… in Texas. Good God, I forgot my dress! My beautiful, brown dress; the one with pockets that give a girl freedom from cumbersome hand bags.
Oh. My. Great. Goodness.
Well, seeing as I’ve only packed shorts and tee shirts (and cute orange dancing flats to go with my not-here dress), I’m more or less down to two options: find a dress in Knoxville or die trying. Or go in shorts and borrow someone’s tie to dress up my T-shirt… and hope there’s an open bar. Okay, three options.
Google to the rescue. I search for “shopping” nearby the venue for the wedding, and I find a cluster of red dots. Looks promising. It’s a good thing I’m up early. I’m off.
Dorian Grey keeps me company until Memphis and again until Nashville where I cling to fantastic blues and jazz and bluegrass gospel. Entering the hills of Tennessee is elating. Oh glorious nature! And everyone kindly makes me feel at home going 80 in a 55. Beautiful.
And helpful. I’m making great time, which is fortunate because you lose an hour going East. The sound of my GPS lady breaks the now silence. I obey her orders and keep my eyes peeled for the shopping strip.
it’s more like
Food, though usually a comfort, does nothing for the nervous feeling in my stomach. I look up and down the street. It isn’t looking promising. One of Anne Lamott’s two prayers escapes my lips in a whisper. Helpmehelpmehelpme.
Like a beacon of light out my driver’s side window I spot a thrift store! Oh Lord, give me favor in this thrift store. An hour before the ceremony is scheduled to commence, I pull into a parking space in front of the thrift store, determined to purchase any dress that will fit me.
Hello! Welcome to… wherever I am. Nervous half-smile and nod. Sifting. Sorting. Too big. Too small. Too what the mother-in-law wears to the wedding (okay, so not any dress that’ll fit). But there’s one. White poka-dots over pale yellow, green and green vertical stripes that I think washes me out a bit, but a cute cut, light-weight, good for dancing, and fits like a glove. Sigh. If I ever saw the sun these doctoral days, the paleness of the dress wouldn’t clash with my paleness. Alas.
“Will that be all for you?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Do you need a bag?”
“Erm, no. But I have a favor to ask.”
“I’d like to wear this out… Could you help me zip it up?”
“No problem, girl! I used to work at Victoria’s Secret.”
With half an hour to spare and the venue only 10 minutes away, I’m off praying Anne Lamott’s other prayer: Thankyouthankyouthankyou.
Freshening up as much as I can behind the open trunk of my car—for I now have added thrift-store smell to road-trip smell—I’m thankful yet again, for my orange flats work perfectly with my newly-acquired $8 answer to prayer, and I walk toward the beautiful chapel-turned theater. There are my dear friends. (There is an open bar!) And now the real fun and adventure begin: catching up with kindred spirited friends, dancing the night away, and wishing our newlyweds a happily ever after in our Lord.
Here ends the story of my thrift store dress, potluck dinner, L’Abri wedding road trip extravaganza.
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