My husband and I planned to get married on Halloween. Just like my grandparents had done in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1941. As the date was approaching, news of Hurricane Sandy was reaching us in waves. Both Tom and I are skeptics and harsh critics of mainstream media news. So our plans remained unchanged. After all, the ceremony was to be as much like eloping as possible... only one friend to initiate, in the park with no more than birds and squirrels in attendance. No parents flying in from England and California, no out-of-town friends catching busses and trains.
As the storm hit on Monday, Tom and I stayed home, staring out the window in awe. We stepped into the back yard now and then to feel the force of the wind. We were in Bedford Stuyvesant, where we were safe from flooding, power outages and falling trees. Our avoidance of the news and the safety of our neighborhood made us brave and foolish enough to venture out for an afternoon walk. We walked all the way to Kellog's Diner in Williamsburg, five miles round trip, in rain and winds that got increasingly stronger as we moved between shorter buildings and into wider streets. I was jumping at every creaking tree and ducking flying wreckage. It was when we returned home that we tuned in to the news and saw the destruction that was shaking neighborhoods all over New York and beyond. We waited out the next few hours until the sun began breaking through.
On Halloween day, we woke up and got dressed in our wedding clothes, all black of course. Public transit was down so we walked to the courthouse in downtown Brooklyn. The staff there was clearly experiencing bonding time during the crisis. The entire system was down due to water damage at the site of the main server in downtown Manhattan. As a sweet gesture, they let us fill out our forms by hand, though our legal marriage would have to wait. Technically, the missing piece was a credit card transaction, the $35 to officially seal the deal, no cash accepted. We walked from the courthouse to Prospect Park and met Tamia, our officiator and dear friend.
We slipped past the safety barriers that were put up under the 3rd Street panthers. The bronze panther statues looked powerful enough to guard our ceremony from anything. We made our way into the park and found a spot so lovely and quiet. We exchanged vows and took in the images and sounds around us. Trees were fallen everywhere and the leaves on the ground were a perfectly woven rainbow.
The party was planned for Tip Top, a bar in Bed Stuy that has enough spirit and warmth to last have lasted over 40 years. Sadly, our guest list was tiny. Many of our friends couldn't make it without the subways running. Two friends showed up filthy after a day of hauling buckets of flood water out of a gallery in Chelsea where they worked. We lifted our glasses and said a quiet hooray for our new life.
Everyone's wedding is unforgettable to them. One can find significance in every detail. We are so blessed to have eluded the dangers of storm and honored to have witnessed the awesomeness of Mother Nature on our special day.