I spent the weekend in Bristol, Florida. It’s a small town in the Florida panhandle. Small enough that when you are invited to lunch at the restaurant, that’s all the information you need. I ate at the restaurant twice.
I was there to witness my cousin’s wedding. I hate voluntary travel (work has sucked all the fun out of getting on planes), but I couldn’t be happier to have made this trip. Thinking some more, this trip wasn’t really voluntary. My grandma asked me to come, and I don’t say no to my grandma. No one does.
The wedding was the best I have witnessed (my own excepted). Getting to spend time with my family helps me better understand why I am the way I am. Makes me proud of them and proud of the bits of me that are like them. That’s my uncle down there. He likes to attack the camera when you ask him to pose.
I ate more meat when I was there than I have in the last twelve years. There were little bits of it in everything. The baked beans. The black-eyed peas. The greens. I even opened a pack of instant grits at the hotel and discovered little bits of bacon. Not easy to be a vegan in Bristol, Florida. The sweet tea was sure nice. I was relieved that my decision to wear jeans and pack no other pants wasn’t a mistake. Some wore finer things, but my denim was made in Bristol, Tennessee and I removed the tags before I slipped them on and headed for the airport. Couldn’t be bluer. I wasn’t the only man wearing denim. Wasn’t even in the minority.
Friends of the newly betrothed brought three home-brews in kegs. Oatmeal stout. Pale Ale. Mead. I had a glass of the stout and the pale ale and just a sip of the mead (I mostly avoid honey). All three were super good. There were three other big kegs there, too. This bunch knows how to drink.
Also had a glass of moonshine. The first bottle was young and clear. That I missed. The second was aged in oak. Amazing. The next morning the brides father-in-law recounted hearing someone exclaim moonshine makes old people dance when they saw him get up to shake his boots. Only thing is he was drinking water all night. The dancing was from joy and happiness.
I crawled into my tent at 10:30 pm to go to sleep. I closed my eyes and lay awake until about 4:00 am when the partying quieted down. As I laid there, I heard what I thought were gunshots. Found out the next day it was just my uncle cracking his bull-whip. I also heard lots of drunk blathering outside my tent. Don’t get the wrong impression. Most folks stayed well within their practiced limits. A few, though, were pretty well lathered up. I was praying these few could avoid puking on my shiny new tent (and my prayers were answered). I woke at 6:00 am to a clean new day.
Most the affair was put together with volunteer labor and contributions. I did the least of anyone. If you know me, you know I don’t sit still. I didn’t, you can be sure, but everyone else bested me. Crazy energy and love!
No one had to be asked to help. They just pitched in. Some too much. My aunt worked for three days straight and on the wedding night she collapsed. Ambulance came and declared her hungry and tired. She hadn’t eaten a thing all day and the work and the heat caught up with her. A sandwich, some chips and a soda and she was back out in the pasture mingling with friends and family. And laughing. There is little she can’t turn around in her mind to make funny and laughs are always the result.
The brides mom was non-stop, too. I barely got to talk to her, but we didn’t need to talk. A few sentences here and there helped us know we are the same people we’ve always been and aren’t going any other direction anytime soon.
My cousins, all of them, are great folks doing great. I barely know them but it doesn’t take long to see where they came from. Family can be that way. So glad to have a chance to sit and talk with them.
The only person I didn’t get to talk to was the groom. I quizzed a few folks whose opinions I trust, though. They said he is rock solid and makes my cousin very happy. With that, I’ll let them to their fun. As if I could stop them!
Living far apart is crazy. Why do we do it? Think before you move, folks. It may seem right at the time, but that’s probably because you have grown calluses from all the love. The calluses stop you from noticing the love is still there. Still nourishing and sustaining. Grounding. Don’t give it up!