At times, it seems as if I’ve been divorced forever. It’s been over a decade since my marriage blew up, and there have been so many new experiences and adventures since that time, that it almost feels like I was a different person in a different life.
Despite the years which have passed and the distance I feel from my wedded days, there are parts of that chapter which will never fail to prompt a smile or even a laugh. One of them is the story of a paddle.
When my former husband and I were planning our wedding, we worked really hard to find a comfortable place between indulgence in our perfect wedding and the reality of our finances. I was in grad school and working part time and he was working in the restaurant industry – and we were completely on our own to pay for whatever celebration we wanted to host.
The ceremony was in Washington Park (free!) and the reception was held in the historic Shaker Meeting House in Colonie which was a bargain at $250 for the afternoon. We spent money on the caterer and good wine and beer, and had talented friends who pitched in to provide a discounted cake and flowers and music. It was lovely and I wouldn’t have changed a single thing.
In the weeks leading up to the wedding my fiancé and I were busting our asses to make as much money as possible to meet our expenses. Despite the pressure of financial commitments, when the Albany Institute of History and Art hosted a beer festival, it was agreed that he should take a night off to attend the event with a friend, especially when we were able to score free admission through a sales rep.
I was working the bar at Yono’s in Robinson Square that night, when he and his buddy rolled in after the beer fest. They were happily intoxicated and seemed to have enjoyed the event. Bonus – they had a story to share.
It seems that Saranac Brewery, the same company we had already decided to feature at our reception as our beer option, had a table at the festival. My betrothed stopped to sample their offerings and struck up a conversation with the representative, sharing that their beer would be served at our upcoming wedding.
The person working the table was very happy to hear that information and stated that they would love to give us something as a wedding gift.
My ears perked up at this point in the story. Maybe they would provide us with a discount off the kegs we had reserved, which would be helpful in our ever so low budget world.
The beer guy asked my fiancé to stop back at the end of the event, at which point they’d be able to provide a couple of gift options from which to choose.
I began considering how to best use the money we’d be saving thanks to the generosity of the Saranac rep. More wine, a bigger tip to the servers, or some extra money for our mini honeymoon in the Finger Lakes. There were lots of things we could have spent an extra $100 on, believe me.
He continued relating the story…
It seems the offer was one of two things – either a free keg of beer for our reception or a wooden paddle with both the Saranac logo and our names and wedding date on it.
I looked at the man I was going to marry and said “you took the beer, right?”
“Of course not!,” he said, “The paddle is so cool and we’ll have it forever.”
I, being young, happy and in love, received his excited response with a sigh, followed by a laugh. Yes, we would have it forever.
Or, at least for a long time.
Earlier this week, after years of procrastination, I finally dealt with a box of framed photos from my married days. There were maybe a half dozen pictures that simply no longer represented my life in its current incarnation. They’re lovely photos and I’d like to think they will some day be of interest to our children or grandchildren, but there was no need to keep them framed.
So, I removed the pictures and placed them in one of the memory boxes that will one day entertain and puzzle my progeny after I’ve departed this life. I scrolled through my iPhoto collection and selected some new images to print and place in frames to display in my finally completed new kitchen/dining area.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. The pictures were gone, but you know what remained?
The Saranac paddle has decorated my home for close to the thirty years, resting over a doorway in my kitchen. The paddle and I had lived together for more years than my former husband and I ever did, but I no longer had a place for it in my home.
I decided it was time to let it go and simply flow with the current. One can’t really get anywhere with a single paddle anyway.