FloraV and I were determined to make sure that the bride would have a blast on the day of her wedding. But first, we had to take the pin out…literally and figuratively.
The funny thing that I’d noticed was that no one was respecting any of the bride’s wishes. It was her day, but she was involved in virtually all of the planning (together with her sister, Fifi) and had made her own invitations, taken her own pictures, paid for the gazebo-like location, gotten her own DJ, and arranged for her own buffet. There was nothing that she wasn’t directly getting involved in for the event. It seemed fitting then, to take her out to do what she had wanted to do in the first place: have a spa day. It was the least we could do to make sure she had a peaceful entrance into her venue.
The Goddess Diana
The reason I chose this title is because the annual Italian celebration for the Goddess Diana takes place on the day that my niece held her wedding: August 13th. It had to be fate.
That day, FloraV and I had made the decision to make the day as worry-free for the bride as possible. This made it our job to find a relaxing spa with no reservations or knowledge of the surrounding area. The search was quick and there were a bunch of positive reviews for a place run by a woman named, Diana. I saw two things that caught my attention: an open space and buddha figurine. That was all I needed.
Together with our handy-dandy handheld GPS device and our walking feet, we found the place (which was no small feat). Tucked away in a lot that appeared to be deserted, we found our way to Diana’s Esthetic Spa. It was white. It was clean. It was bright and airy. I wondered if it would be expensive.
Diana was an Asian woman of slight build, reminiscent of Yoko Ono. She kindly greeted us with a smile and in a quiet, relaxed voice asked what we wanted. I told her that my niece was looking to have a spa day; Diana politely began to scold us for not making a reservation. “I take no less than two to four hours on my clients,” she said. I swallowed. Hard.
“I apologize,” I said, pointing to my niece. “You see, she is getting married tomorrow and I just wanted to treat her to a nice, relaxing day.”
Diana looked deeply at us, measuring our aura–no doubt–only to make her final assessment. “I was planning on going home to have my dinner, but…how could I deny a bride?” Then, very calmly she grabbed her tupperware dinner and placed it in an ice-box far from our view. When she returned she asked, “Now, what will she like done?”
Most people would probably be bored sitting in a waiting room with nothing to do. This was the exact opposite to my experience. My sister and I were completely relaxed as we meditated to the sounds of ambient music playing on an overhead speaker. It reminded me vaguely of a room in the hospital when Carlos was getting brain surgery–it was a place intended to soothe what could potentially be raw, strong emotions. All around us were reminders to maintain a sense of calm and quiet: a cute little sign read, “Shh!” and a posted notice told us to ‘respect the peaceful atmosphere by keeping our talking to low tones and whispers’. It was delicious. Everything in Diana’s spa is clean: from the white couch we sat on to the Kohler faucets. It encouraged peace and serenity. We even chatted a bit with her masseuse while she “cleaned up” the already pristine space. It was lovely.
An hour and a half later, my niece emerged from the cubicle she’d been in. Her skin was glowing for the first time. She beamed, “Diana ended up giving me a full facial and she’s AMAZING, you guys…”
What I couldn’t get over was how much of a difference Diana had made to my niece’s skin in so short a time. Not only did Barbara look incredible, but it was the first time that she was genuinely smiling during this trip.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself:
Then Diana continued to work on my niece by providing a manicure / pedicure. Barbara’s celebratory plan: a non-traditional Jamaican wedding. This would be best expressed in vibrant colors indigenous to the island. Diana smiled and said, “Well, normally bride’s go for more muted colors. But for some reason, I had bought this…” She proceeded to extract a small bottle of shiny, bright golden orange, which looked like Indian saris I’ve seen worn, from off a tucked-away shelf. This turned out to be the best color, complementing my niece’s gown perfectly. Then, out of nowhere, two prisms appeared (reflected from off of Diana’s storefront window). If you told me that day would turn out that perfect, I wouldn’t have believed it. Tell me that wasn’t picturesque…
Sometimes You’re the Bride, Sometimes You’re The Windshield
If I could have anticipated what was to come, I would have gotten full coverage on the rental car. But hindsight is always 20/20.
Barbara had successfully averted the myriad potholes that surrounded the spa as my sister brought the rental car around. Barbara got in and commented on a few messages that were left on her cell phone. I thought nothing of them, knowing that Barbara’s mother was caring for her grandchild, Anna Banana. I figured the calls were probably status updates…boy, how wrong I was.
The next few minutes were harrowing. It involved tag-teaming of the worst type I’d ever seen. The main gyst was that the whole event was being threatened by the same family members which were encouraging Barbara to hold the event. Because she was (gasp!) enjoying herself, her family needed to find a way to manipulate the situation to their favor out of jealousy. It was the wild card the family members pulled to ruin her day. Recognizing Barbara and thus knowing her reaction, the series of combative and threatening phone calls also succeeded in relinquishing their responsibilities on the eve of the big day. When pressed, they could cite, instigate and blame Barbara for something she had no control over and that they started. Barbara ignored our efforts to keep her calm and relaxed; she became increasingly agitated by the phone exchanges. Then, the inevitable happened: Barbara threw her cell phone. That was all she wrote.
It Does Get Better
Just like that YouTube video campaign, the fire-breathing Bridezilla moment did manage to open some much needed dialogue. My hope is that the bride will always remember that event for two reasons: 1) To learn that no one can take away your peace, unless you let them. 2) Violence and anger only make matters worse. When the dust had settled, only the bride was affected. Neither her brutal, uncaring mother nor her jealous, self-absorbed sister cared about what they were doing at the time. They also seemed unphased the next day as they went about their business as if nothing had happened. That’s selective memory for you. Most of the threats from the day before proved to be empty. The rice still made it to the venue. Fifi helped layout the decor, table dressings, and food. Anna Banana arrived clean and well-dressed to see her mother on her wedding day. So who was the fight really for? Who was aggravated? Who did it satisfy if not the twisted egos of the family members who helped force this event in the first place?
The event went off without a hitch…until the peanut gallery arrived. But I danced, I barbecued, the bride sang, and the overall party was a HUGE success.
And shout out to Tanja, the German mommy extraordinaire. She was the only person who came to check and see that I was okay doing all the cooking. Thanks, Tan! (Shout out to her son, Malechai and her awesome parents!)
The funny part is that Barbara has accomplished what eludes most women: a loving husband and child. Meeting Michael was the best and Anna Banana for all her antics is adorable. When those two look each other in the eye, something magical transpires. It is the look that happens only once in a lifetime, pure and true. It is the example of what loving people should be: happy, kind, generous, accommodating, and forgiving. I was glad that I could witness it firsthand and play an integral part. I even learned that I’m not a bad barbecue cook…kudos to me! *Patting myself on back*
Life Is The Lesson; All Set The Example
This trip was a 360-degree learning experience. For me and my sister, the trip represented our confirmation that our step into adulthood is never complete, but it is an ever-flowing series of lessons that are learned and taught. We came out of it more confident that good times are made, not had. We also know that we are the ones that mould and shape the direction that these could take. Then, by experiencing the agonies and overall success of Barbara’s wedding, we affirmed our love for each other. If it weren’t for FloraV, I would have been unable to make this trip possible. I also would not have had the insight to see the trip from another angle, another point-of-view. She ultimately validated all that I was seeing and hearing and feeling; which was nice. I just wish that Barbara had this same relationship with her sisters who for the most part appeared to be so self-absorbed that they didn’t really celebrate with the bride. To me, it appeared as though it could’ve been any other party on any other day to them. No effort was made to make Barbara feel special. I hope that Barbara can move forward and lead by example. She now has a child to raise and can mend those fences through her.
It is difficult, but not impossible. And my sister and I will always be there to help her through the rough spots. Love ya, Bar!
P.S. Keep the cell-phone usage to a minimum, huh?