Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weddings, Yo.

The thing about weddings is that everybody shares their opinions on them.  Sometimes, this even includes the bride and the groom.  In fact, even I (never married, never close to married, can't express complex ideas without crayons) felt entitled enough to have drafted an entire blog post about my opinions on weddings and marriage.

Here, by the way, is the only read-worthy part of that blog post:

Even eight months an a country removed from that small Christian college culture, my reaction to marriage announcements is still full of the same mixture of elation and concern that I get when I see really old people driving really nice cars.

Because on the one hand, it's like:


But on the other hand, I'm all:

"ALRIGHT...But how are our vital signs right now?
Have we considered talking through our life choices?"

And quote.  And I was all ready to post it, too.  I had pictures and everything.  But then I saw like thirty articles like this and this and even this and this one, too, and by the time I was done with third one I had already started losing my hair and stress-eating Nutella out the jar.

I'm tired of people's opinions. OH MY GOSH I'M SO TIRED OF THEM.  I'm tired of my own opinions.  They're not even that good.

And that's why, instead of trying to dole out wisdom, I'm just going to describe to you the cultural smoothie that was the wedding I went to two months ago.

The Players:

Fernanda Velazquez.  Mother Tongue: Spanish. Learned Languages: English, Medical jargon. Fernanda is a gem among gems.  We are friends for many reasons, and among them are the facts that a) she is the same height as me and b) she speaks Spanish to me and thinks I'm funny.

Naser Abdollazadeh.  Mother Tongue: Kurdish. Learned Languages: Farsi, Turkish, English.
Naser is solid in every sense of the word.  Soft-spoken, confident, and gives Fernanda's friends rides home when it's raining.  I approve.

The Guests:
A palooza of 180 people from Mexico, El Salvador, Canada, The U.S., Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and the four corners of Kurdistan. Think about this for a second.  This wedding was the cultural equivalent of that drink preteens make at Burger King by putting all of the sodas into one cup. And it was about a million percent more delicious.

Actual photo of me as a preteen.

The Ceremony:
Most of our guests came from Muslim and Catholic backgrounds, and many told me they'd never seen a Christian wedding before. Apparently, they were all very excited to document it, because there were at least 10 people standing at the foot of the stage, filming and flashing cameras. That is not an exaggeration. So, in addition to being my first Mexican/Kurdish wedding, it was also my first wedding as a celebrity.
"Thank you, thank you. No really, it's too much."

One of these guests commented to Joan: "This is what wedding should be.  Making promises to each other in front of God." And that's exactly what it was.  It was unconventional, sure.  Guests sat at tables and talked (even yelled) throughout the ceremony.  Kids ran back and forth during both the English and Kurdish sermons.  Sepideh and I sang three songs in four languages. Fernanda and Naser did their vows in English, while her family watched on Skype (side note: the sound wasn't working, so Fernanda's mom made a sign that said "hello, I am Fernanda's mother," and held it up whenever people came to wave to her, and I just think she's the coolest).

And it was all really, actually beautiful.

The Dancing:

The three most prevalent types of dancing were Kurdish, Persian, and Mexican Salsa.  Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how I do (read: fake) each.


Step 1: The leader gets a scarf and twirls the bejeebus out of it, then he (or she) comes up with a basic step.  
Step 2: Grab hands with the leader to form a giant snake, which continues to do the step in a giant circle around the room.
Step 3: Repeat forever. Until you die of exhaustion.


Step 1: Stand like you are the king.

Step 2: Move your hands like this:

Mexican Salsa:

Step 1: Move your feet (FROM YOUR HIPS. ALWAYS FROM YOUR HIPS) in a cha-cha-cha- STEP, cha-cha-cha-STEP kind pattern. Spin around when you're feelin cool.

Step 2: Realize that you are the only one without a partner.

Step 3: Recall your sophomore Sadie Hawkins Dance

Step 4: Thank Jesus that you've left your awkward stage and keep cha-cha-cha-STEPping until the music changes.

The Verdict: And really, because it turns out I can't stop myself from adding to the ocean of opinions out there, the Velazquez/Abdollazadeh wedding was an amazing picture lesson in community.  Joan did the decorations. Shaghayegh did the flowers. Sepideh did the coordination and jewelry. Amin and Tim did the ceremony. Naser's relatives did the food.  Sepideh and I did the music. Kiana was the official wedding Skyper. That's a lot of people to talk to, and a lot of opinions to translate. We were from everywhere, spoke everything, and understood way less than we thought we did.  Sometimes living in community is obnoxious, yo.

But at the end of it, the decorations were beautiful. The flowers were fragrant.  The ceremony was heartfelt and God-filled.  The food was delicious.  Our team was a team because the thing we had in common is that we think Naser and Fernanda and their marriage are worth celebrating.  We love them big, and we will protect them always.  Weddings are community events.  And even though I know we can be stress-inducing, I think having a team behind you as you start your new life is special enough to outweigh all the silliness.  

Fernanda and Naser are special because they have the whole world (almost literally) represented in their community.  At their wedding, they showed this community what it looks like to love somebody else more than yourself, and to love Jesus most of all.  I feel more than happy that I got to participate. I feel grateful.

So congratulations, Fernanda and Naser. Your team has your back.

Also, I know for a fact it was a good party, because this was me the day after:


"I'm not getting up."

"This is my life now."

Actually, I'm still there. Send help. Even better, send pizza.

Thank you all for being on my team.  Please remember that I'm always accepting donations, and that I'm trying really hard not to be embarrassed about that.  Love to all of you.