Saturday, August 06, 2005
Wedding PartyThe kids and I went to a wedding today. Gloria, whose son was getting married, took care of my sons when they were little, and she has turned into a good friend over the years. Her husband does my yard. Her three oldest sons (she has five kids) help me load my opera trucks. Her sister cleans my house.
I feel intensely loyal to her and her family. They have taken care of me and my children for twelve years. When they are in a bind I go in debt to help them out. Sometimes I feel weird about that. That I am the Anglo woman and they are the Hispanic family. They take care of my basic needs while I go out and make white collar wages because... well, because I was born in the United States and my native language is English.
I think we have an understanding. I envy them in many ways. They have a huge family and they share many burdens amongst themselves. No, it's not perfect. I've heard enough stories over the years to know it's not peaceful and serene all the time. But it is a foreign culture to me -- with the many kids, the ability to depend on the extended family, the fact that family is all that's truly important in life.
So today her oldest son, Ruben, got married. He's maybe 21. His bride has a child from a previous marriage and is about seven months pregnant.
The entire ceremony was conducted in Spanish. The reception was huge, held in the Glendale Civic Auditorium, and it's undoubtedly still going on as I write. There was seating for 400 people at the reception. A band with accordian players, several drum kits and loads of speakers played on stage. There were dozens of bridesmaids and groomsmen. They hired a huge stretch Explorer to cart everyone around in. Everyone was done up to the teeth. The little flower girls ran around in their frilly white dresses and tiny white shoes and looked more beautiful than God.
It was a big huge deal.
And because I couldn't understand a single word (ironically, the only word I picked out with any consistency was palabra... which Gloria translated for me as meaning "word") at the ceremony, I just sat there taking in the vibes. When the ceremony was over, the bride and groom did not look particularly happy nor did they look particular unhappy. They looked a bit shell shocked but otherwise they were fine. There was this HUGE deal going on for and about and around them... and they were fine.
And as I looked at them throughout the day I grew sadder and sadder. NOT because I want a wedding day of my own particularly, but because we seem to make it so fucking complicated for ourselves. We meaning the white intellectual neurotic overly analytical people, such as myself, who read and write books like I've just written. People, basically, who go out and make the big bucks and spend the rest of their time being totally miserable because all the meaningful relationships in their lives have been analyzed into paralysis or non-existance.
I am not going all Woody Allen on you here. I know it's not all THAT bad. I do see people who mesh and bond and are successful. I don't seem to be one of them at the moment, but I do know there are some anglo intellectuals out there who do pull it off. With a minimum of angst (at least as it appears from the outside). I know it can happen, but from my side of the fence these days it seems absolutely impossible.
We (meaning I) think too much. We (meaning I) agonize too much. We (meaning I) hope for too much. We (meaning I) obviously expect too much.
Look at these two people. It's fairly obvious why they're getting married. They do love each other, of that I'm convinced. They were living together when she got pregnant. But, face it, she got pregnant. They wanted the baby. So they got married.
Did either one of them go into a long metaphor about gear ratios, wondering to what extent the other would meet all their needs? Probably not. Does either of them wonder what happens in 20 years or so when the mid-life crisis hits and they want to sleep with someone else? Maybe, but that's not stopping them.
And the kicker is this: will they probably stay married until death does them part? I'd say almost certainly. Whereas more than half of the overly-analyzed, pre-nuptialed marriages among "my" people will almost certainly end.
Maybe this is the most racist, culturally biased blog I've ever written. But talk to me next time you go to an Hispanic wedding. It's DIFFERENT and I defy you to tell me otherwise. And it is cultural.
Sure, maybe Italian or Greek weddings are like that. But again, there's a culture behind that.
I just kept getting the feeling that we white stiffs had somehow lost the POINT, with our thinking and our office gigs and our brainy little analysis of everything in the world. The people I knew in the room (admittedly a small percentage) work in three dimensions. The groom works at Kinko's. The other people I know take care of people's kids and gardens and houses. I'm sure their bodies hurt at night. I know for a fact that money is tight. I know without a doubt that it's not easy.
But maybe it's because it's not easy in the outside world that the inside world is more supportive and less fractured. Maybe the conflicts are ones they face collectively with a united front. Maybe it's easier to find comfort in another person when your body is trashed from working so hard that a cold beer and a warm heart is more than enough to make you content.
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