Last weekend, we went to a wedding in New Jersey.
My wife, being in the wedding, went earlier in the week. My teenage son is too cool to go to a wedding so he stayed with Grandma, programming something on his computer. So my daughter and I got on a train early Friday morning (the Carolinian) in Durham. I don’t think she has ever been on a train before! As for me, I traveled by train a lot back in Europe, but not so much in the States – a trip to Charlotte a decade ago, a quick ride in San Francisco in 2007, that’s about it. And this is a looooong ride – about 10 hours from Durham to Newark, NJ.
The train ride was very comfortable. The train is clean, spacious, people on it nice, so I wonder why we don’t use train more often. Ten hours is a lot of time. My daughter and I chatted some, went to the diner car to get some food and drinks a couple of times (though we did stock up on chocolate, chips and sodas before boarding), looked out of the window, etc. She loaded a few movies onto her laptop and watched a couple of those. I read some of Carin Bondar’s delightful book ‘The Nature of Human Nature’. There were parts of rural North Carolina and Virginia where there was no signal for my iPhone, but for the most of the trip the train passes through urban areas and, although there is no wifi on the train itself, there was sufficient signal for my iPhone to be useful. I spent a lot of time reading science blogs via Scienceblogging.org and realized how useful the site is (and that it does not really need a special mobile version – it works fine as it is).
We arrived in Montclair, NJ in the evening and were first taken to a high point (High Lawn Pavillion, for those familiar with the area) from which we could see the night skyline of Manhattan. We stayed with the parents of the bride. Actually, one of the brides. This was to be a wedding in a same-sex marriage, a first one I attended. And also a Jewish wedding (not a first for me, though).
On Saturday, we had time to get on a bus and spend the morning in Manhattan, have lunch there, and meet some friends (you may have seen some pictures I posted on Facebook – my wife has much more still to upload). The Saturday dinner was organized by the parents of the other bride and the wedding itself was on Sunday (we drove back on Monday – a drive much easier and smoother – and with the truck stops much cleaner – than what I remember from 19 years ago, the last time I went that way by I-95, in the opposite direction – North).
This was probably the most fun and relaxed wedding I ever attended (it is hard not to be nervous at one’s own, so I’ll refrain on commenting on that one). The rabbi had fun. Both brides had fun. Everyone in the synagogue had fun. Not a dull or tense moment during the entire ceremony. It was beautiful, it was spiritual, yet it all felt so normal, so natural, I had to remind myself at the end that I was participating in history. A ceremony like this, just a few years ago, would not just have been impossible, but unthinkable.
The two brides come from two very different families. One from the North, the other from the South. One Democratic, the other Republican. One Jewish, the other Christian. In many ways – polar opposites. Yet both families stepped up to the plate and embraced each other fully.
It was not just Lisa and Erika being revolutionaries and trailblazers. It was not just that Lisa and Erika got married to each other and a couple of hundred of us were there. We were not just observers, but participants. I like to think that each one of us came out of it a better person. That each one of us is now a seedling, making the world a better place wherever we may be.