Monday, 17 August 2009

A Wedding for the Cynics

I have a confession. I really really didn't want to go; and when we set off, my expectations of having a good time were next to nothing. I'm glad the universe responded by slapping me round the head. I had a hoot of a time.

Partner's eldest brother (J) was getting married in York. His third marriage, her second. Partner's parents (when his mum was still with us) had always been accepting of our relationship. However in the 9 odd years we've been together, drifting through various birthdays, funerals and other family events, I had never felt entirely comfortable. Partly because his family is so extended - with ex wives, children and assorted cousins from different marriages - it gets confusing, even for his own family members; partly because I was originally introduced as the "flatmate" and the relationship was never declared official - even though after the third year I'm sure everyone was aware of what was going on in our rather unconvincing production!

Partner's elder brother (D) and his wife (S) have always been champions, and we've gone on outings, even once dragging Partner's dear ole dad to a gay bar (though he seemed oblivious to it all, bless him!). J seemed uncomfortable in the beginning but he's fine now and his new wife is A GOOD WOMAN.

I think throughout the various barbeques and get togethers, the other clan members didn't know quite how to approach me and I, whilst not dramatically branding myself as an outsider, tended to stay with Partner or the boys so as not to (in my mind) upset anyone by foisting our relationship on anyone lest they feel uncomfortable. You can go down the "I'm queer, accept it *diva finger clicking*" route or you can, as I chose to, travel the road less obvious. Rightly or wrongly, I wanted it to happen organically and naturally. It cannot be easy for a niece to accept her uncle is *eeks*, a homosexual. It cannot be easy for a newphew to strike a conversation with his now-gay ("but he has children!") uncle's non-football-comprehending partner.

The reception was short and sweet. The groom came over emotional and it's always an awwww moment when a man cries, especially when saying his vows :-) . The bride was the epitome of elegance, taking everything in her stride, including small grandchild continuously chanting "nana, nana" throughout the ceremony.

For most of the day I was either with Partner or the boys; had the occasional word with S's sister (B) whom I met at the last function and found out we had a common interest - wine. Specifically, drinking alot of it. Back at the house, Partner and I were at the same table with his dad and the groom's second wife (did I mention it was a complicated family?). B kept shouting over from the end of the garden to "leave the old farts" and join the (to me) rather large and intimidating group that had gathered around the garden bench attached to a table laden with champagne bottles.

I resisted for awhile and then, to be polite, went over. Despite our past of polite silent nods during our various skirmishes, something happened that early Summer's evening. They opened up, I opened up. Sometimes a moment gets captured so vividly it crystallises straight away in the memory. For me, this will be the day that D's son-in-law and I spoke more than 2 words to each other. The day when D's daughter and I cackled about farting under the duvet. The day when B and I confessed relationship secrets in each other's ear. The day S broke the bench she was sitting on and kept sliding down the broken bit and which seemed so utterly screamingly hilarious to the rest of us.

Never underestimate the amazing qualities of unlimited champagne...

a blurred photo of one of the champagne bottles...

As the night progressed, and as the adults jumped on the bouncy castle and ended up splattered face down, as we got more tanked up on champagne, as the laughter got louder and the jokes got lewder, as S loudly declared she hated Lady Gaga and put on Take That - and danced with D in co-ordinated high kicks and jazz hands in Cabaret-meets-Al Jolson stylee in a fashion too bizarre to describe...As all these events unfolded, it felt utterly natural and unforced; from a farewell hug from someone I had never spoken to before, to an invitation to the next girls' night out, suddenly I was part of the family. Maybe I always was, but this time, all of us acknowledged that.

And that was a good feeling.

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