Saturday, April 20, 2013

Six Years Ago

Last Wednesday, Ma'ikwe and I visited Sky Island, the rambling three-story housing complex of Anthony & Lydia Allen in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains overlooking Albuquerque. It's a place filled with special memories because six years ago Ma'ikwe and I got married in that house.

It was my first time back since the wedding and the house was both the same and different. There had been a lot of repainting of interior walls in the interim and Anthony had gone wild with glass beads and glue gun, but the bones of the house remained the same.

As there were only two adults and three children on hand for our visit, it was a sharp contrast with the 175 celebrants packed into the upstairs great room for the main ceremony back in '07… but it was fun trying. There was a flood of images evoked by specific locations in the house:

o  In the back of the upstairs great room I had stood before Ma'ikwe's and my blood relatives at a Friday afternoon luncheon and toasted the memory of my mother with a jar of pickled beets.

o  In the outdoor plaza that same afternoon, my son, Ceilee, ran the outdoor bar with equal parts elan and insouciance (shaken, not stirred) while the crowd mingled in Brownian motion. It was unique mix of people I saw regularly; people I hadn't seen in a more than a decade; and people I'd never laid eyes on before (Ma'ikwe's friends)—yet there were welcoming tamales and homemade black currant wine for all.

o  In the second-story great room Friday evening, Ma'ikwe & I sat on raised chairs and were roasted in place. We never knew from speaker to speaker whether the forthcoming stories would be tender, embarrassing, or both. (I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life).

o  Awakening Saturday morning we discovered immediately that our plans for an outdoor 11 am ceremony were not going to work. Instead, we were greeted with the weather gods' idea of a cosmic joke: a brooding sky, chill temperatures, and gusty winds. Luckily, the bride and groom were professional facilitators and used to improvising when presented with unexpected roadblocks—we promptly moved the entire ceremony indoors and rewrote the choreography to accommodate the shifting set.

o  In the main kitchen I have an enduring image of my daughter, Jo, bustling efficiently as she orchestrated the preparation and delivery of the wedding banquet. 

ma'ikwe and laird wedding 04-07 086
o  I pictured Ma'ikwe ascending the spiral staircase, glowing in her red dress, about to join me and our officiant (Elph Morgan) for the wedding vows. The image to the right was captured by Marty Klaif just at that moment. Sitting at my feet, out of view of the camera, was my granddog, Zeus, stoically tolerating being trussed up in a tux for the occasion (an indignity I don't believe he's been asked to endure since).

o  In the breakfast nook on the south side of the kitchen I enjoyed a quiet post-ceremony moment with Beth Arnone, where my Italian friend told me of the magic of Cinque Terre—five small villages clumped along the rugged Italian Riviera that became one of the highlights of Ma'ikwe's and my honeymoon.
o  Standing on the outside of the great room along the north parapet, the newlyweds had their picture taken in a sudden spring snow shower.

The best part, though, was wandering outside the house and finding the site of our sweat lodge amidst the scrub brush and prickly pear. Ma'ikwe and I, you see, had conceived of a four-day wedding (both to prolong this singular occasion and to enhance the chances of having actual conversations with the special people who had traveled cross country to be with us). 

While the crescendo was the Saturday ceremony, with Ma'ikwe and me dressed in ritual attire, the wedding "officially" opened at dawn Wednesday morning, with Ma'ikwe and I emerging from a sweat lodge in our birthday suits.

I had built the lodge on Monday with the help of Robert Griffin and Ann Shrader. Tuesday night was a new moon and Ceilee & MaryLou Singleton (a dear friend of Ma'ikwe's) accompanied us to Sky Island where the four of us settled in for an all-night vigil of fire tending, getting a representative assortment of Missouri firebricks & New Mexico chunks of scrap iron gradually heated to cherry red.

Toward dawn Jeffrey Harris & Cecil Scheib joined our circle and were on hand to witness Ma'ikwe & I enter our small hut and emerge 30 minutes later as steaming, cleansed lobsters to greet the day—and the beginning of our wedding.

Six years later there was not trace remaining of the wood-framed lodge, yet we had no trouble identifying the location because the fire ring remained, and lying nearby were all 10 of the firebricks I'd hauled from Missouri.

As we reconnected with the energy of that site, it suddenly occurred to us that we were there on April 17—the exact sixth anniversary of the day we arrived to begin our wedding. With the circuit completed, the energy of union surged through us… again.

1 comment:

Kay Howard said...

Lovely memories. Thanks, Laird.