bridesmaid-ing through the years

closet space in this city is a precious commodity. and yet, i’ve chosen to hold onto the bridesmaids dresses i’ve donned over the years. along with framed pictures of the festivities, they are reminders of having stood beside some of my favorite people as they exchanged vows.

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the summer of ’03. i had just graduated from stanford undergrad, and was about to embark on yet another journey – stanford law school. and my dear friend theresa was about to become someone’s wife. we were only 22. i was thrilled to be her maid of honor, but also a little wistful — a little sad that she was about to embark on a journey that i had a feeling would remain uncharted territory for me for awhile yet (little did i know it would be a SUPER LONG WHILE for me). it didn’t seem too long ago that we had bonded in high school over our love of the same books (“i can’t believe you’ve also read ‘girl of the limberlost’ – i LOVE that book”). in the days leading up to her wedding, she threw us a bridesmaids’ tea party at a cozy little tea parlor in wheaton — tea served in chubby teapots, a tiered cake stand of scones and cookies, and little trinkets hidden amongst the scones with flowy ribbons attached for each of us. she wanted each of us, her bridesmaids, to pluck a flowy ribbon from the bunch. attached to each flowy ribbon was a mystery trinket and message scrawled in theresa’s handwriting. attached to the ribbon i plucked was a charm in the shape of a sailboat and a note that read: “you’ll be sailing away on great adventures that await you.” it couldn’t have been more right. i couldn’t have fathomed all the changes and adventures that would unfold in the years ahead — the people who would become fixtures in my life, the different landscapes i’d inhabit …

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the year: 2008. i was two years into living in new york city and working as an attorney at a large firm. nyc was still novel to me –the first two winters had been deceptively mild, the bags of trash adorning its streets had yet to grate my nerves, and i was still starry eyed about all the city held and offered. and my dear friend sarah was about to marry sam. and i was thrilled to stand beside her as her maid of honor. she wasn’t one to make choices lightly or impulsively, and i was happy knowing that this choice of hers would be a lasting one.

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the year: 2013. mb, as i had dubbed her at some point early on in law school, was about to drop the “b” in her name and become mrs. R. in mb fashion, she had asked us to choose each of our bridesmaid dresses. not surprisingly, i chose one for myself in a shade very much like the one i’ve chosen for my own bridesmaids to wear in a few months time. as for me, i had, by this time, hurtled through three dramatic years in the courtrooms of brooklyn as a prosecutor, becoming enmeshed in lives i’d otherwise not have encountered. mb looked radiant as she walked down the aisle in her mom’s wedding gown. as for bee, she’ll always be “mb” to me.

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the year: 2014. my dear college friend sheenie, surrounded by sparkles, antique china, accents of her navajo culture, and rosewater PINK, is a stunning bride. having known since college that we’d be in each other’s weddings, it was all the more memorable to stand beside her as she became mrs. cooper. here’s more on this wedding.

bridesmaids are unique to american culture (they don’t have them in korea) and though some may have horror stories when it comes to bridesmaid-ing, i have loved standing beside my dearest friends on their biggest of days.

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who knew – it does fit, after all

ring

even after seven going on eight years in new york, i’m still shocked to feel the seasons change. sure, i’m aware that new york has four very distinct seasons (well, three and a half since much of spring is muscled out by the unrelenting winters). the first signs of fall, though (such as the much less overwhelming smell of trash on the streets), still come as a surprise. i’m always sad to see summer go. parting with my flip flops, without fail, reminds me of leaving california.

well, on this first day of fall (or what felt like the first day of fall), as i was strolling along 17th street, a shop called pippin appeared, harry potter-like, out of nowhere. no, it wasn’t one of those “pop up shops.” its “appearing out of nowhere-ness” was attributable more to my never having seen it before even though i’d walked down that stretch of 17th countless times.

now, i’m not one for jewelry. i admire it on others, but like long hair, don’t know what to do with it if it’s mine. but with a name like pippin, i couldn’t not go in. despite a batty lady dressed in some turn of the century outfit eyeing me like a hawk (well, maybe more pigeon than hawk like), i stayed to look at what the shop held (other than her). the actual vintage pieces (i didn’t count her among them) were charming.

as i scanned the brightly colored rings, i recognized one. i had seen it (not one like it, but that exact one) in a dream months ago. it had been one of those dreams where i had slipped in and out of sleep – and so i remembered the ring vividly, as if i had actually seen it outside of my dream. and here it was – nestled among other rings in a shop run by a batty lady on 17th street.

i hardly remembered most of my dreams or gave them another thought. this one though, had stuck with me. i’d had that dream after i’d seen someone who i hadn’t seen in six months (the longest we’d gone without seeing each other). in my dream, when he tried to lift my hand to slip on the ring, as much as i’d wanted to, my hand (my entire arm, in fact), refused to budge. it stayed frozen. and he gave up. and put the ring back into its case and into his drawer. no words were exchanged. i remembered the ring vividly though – a twisted, curving gold band with a pearl embedded in the middle.

flash forward to pippin on 17th. i didn’t know whether to be happy, suspicious, or check my sanity. i hesitated. then with a “oh, what the hell,” i plucked the ring from its display case and tried it on. okay, now i was suspicious. it fit. it didn’t fall off. the other rings in this shop had been too large for my korean fingers. okay, now i was really suspicious. it was supposed to fall off. i shook my hand, waving it around. the ring stayed on. the batty lady had had enough by this point. she swooped down from her perch – did i need help?

looking at this ring stay put on my finger (and looking comfortably at home there), i couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened had i been able to have more faith that we’d fit; if i had chosen differently; if i’d been able to say yes (in life, not just in my dream). but hey, it’s not every first day of fall that something you’d seen in a dream decides to pop up in front of you, albeit in the presence of a batty lady instead of the guy who had been a part of not just your dream, but your life.

gwyneth, a coffee drenched doodle dog, and a mini riot. all (or only) in the hamptons

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i cringe when i’ve had to write “the hamptons.” so i say “montauk” instead. that’s slightly less cringe inducing. and i’m not one to cringe easily.

well, that’s where i was this past weekend + a day.

other than being one of those rare snippets of time you know you’ll remember for years after [because spent with some of the friends you love most], the weekend was confetti’d with some new york style “you’re kidding, right?” moments [only to be found in extensions of nyc such as the hamptons]. [insert cringe].

and so began our mission of tunneling our way into a bookstore in the hamptons for, of all things, a signature from gwyneth. paltrow. is there any other?

we may be thirty somethings holding down legitimate careers, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t jostle our way through a mini riot for this sort of thing.

a half hour before the big event, we queue up. the line wraps around the bookstore. we’re informed that not everyone will get in. the door shuts five heads in front of us. those five heads and all the heads behind those are not happy ones.

a lady with a massive doodle dog somehow sneaks her way to the front of this “waitlist” line. how a lady with a giant doodle dog sneaks her way anywhere is beyond me.

the persecution of this lady and her giant doodle dog begins. it’s a line of 50+ against this batty lady with a doodle dog. she fights back. the dog does not. coffee [iced, not hot, thank god] gets spilled all over the dog. the poor dog shakes off the coffee. the coffee sprays a great distance [in slow motion], soaking a good portion of the pissed off new yorkers at the front of the waitlist line.

a heavily botox’d lady behind us attempts to bond with us. her moment is here. “oh, look at that poor dog. with coffee all over it. can you believe that lady? unbelievable! i bought my gwyneth cookbook in advance. i brought my receipt in case they wouldn’t let me in – look!”

more people appear out of nowhere, jostling their way to the front of this “waitlist” line. it’s survival of the sneakiest [and the shameless].

one such sneaky shameless lady with a huge scarf wound over her head pops out of nowhere, claiming to be “the press.”

“where’s your press pass?” asks some of the pissed off new yorkers. a man with a giant camera lens menacingly extends his giant lens towards her.

miracle of miracles, we somehow make it in. and meet gwyneth, who is perched on a wooden booster seat of sorts, looking overwhelmed and annoyed. it must suck to be you, gwyneth. for a moment, i feel sorry for her. but hey, she’s gwyneth freaking paltrow.