My cousin got married in Iowa this weekend, and since I can't go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas (and probably won't be able to visit again until MAY), it was the perfect opportunity to see family I haven't seen in ages. Highs of 98 in LA, Lows of 22 in Iowa. I had to borrow a coat. BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
On Thursday, I flew to Cedar Rapids, where my friend Keri picked me up. We've been friends since Kindergarten-- great to see her. We went out for drinks in Iowa City that night with her boyfriend (also known since high school) and I spent the night at her place. We got incredibly trashed on cheap booze ($3.50 martinis, WHAT?!) and watched a horrible movie at her house called "The Room"... a long standing tradition of ours. When we were broke in high school, we would rent bad movies for 50 cents at Family Video and make fun of them in classic MST3K style (before we even knew what that was). The next morning she drove me to Davenport.
Friday night, my parents, Keri, and I went to my old high school to see a performance of "Seussical." It wasn't as horrific as it could have been...it's a pretty easy show to put on. And the girl they had playing the Kangaroo was actually better than the girl who played that part at my University! So props to that young lady, she had an incredible voice and lots of sass. Mostly, I was glad to say hi to my old band, drama, and choir teachers!
Saturday was the wedding in Indianola (near Des Moines) at 4 PM. They had it at the local nature center, and even though it was breezy and bit chilly, the ceremony was outside. But the view was really gorgeous and they kept it short, so we all survived. Super cute was when my other cousin's 4 year started shouting "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!" when the couple was pronounced husband and wife.
One my favorite elements of the wedding was the couple's personal logo. The husband is a graphic designer and he created this cute little cartoon of them. They had it on everything! It was on their invitations, the RSVP, the couple's wine glasses... but my favorite was their boxy wedding cake topper and their Yahtzee score card! Apparently, my cousin is obsessed with Yahtzee, so she had these and a bunch of dice at every table. My family played (mom won), and since there wasn't dancing, I thought this was good alternate entertainment.
I was also extremely pleased to discover that my cousin is now a vegetarian, and while everyone else got pulled pork sandwiches (it's Iowa, this is very common at weddings), we ate black bean, sweet potato, and barley patties that were very tasty. They also had veggie meatballs. YUM! One of the first weddings I've ever been to where I got something besides vegetables and salad! She also made sure all of the table runners were reusable (muslin, for the groom's canvas art projects) with bio-degradable plates and napkins and silverware! The centerpieces featured bamboo (that people could take home) and Christmas lights (obviously reusable). Some people had gripes, as will always happen at weddings, but I thought it was lovely and personal and very thoughtful. At least it reflected the couple! I'm really happy for them!
After the wedding, the younger part of the crowd went out to a German Beer Bar in Des Moines and I stayed the night at my other cousin's apartment... Thanks Chelsea! We're 51 weeks apart in age (she's older, I'm the baby on both sides of the family) and we were shocked to see each other sporting the exact same haircut/color! We look so much alike, it's freaky. Except that I'm practically a foot taller...but other than that. Super short blond hair. Is it genetic to have a hairstyle preference? :-)
We drove home this afternoon and I was surprised by a big family dinner at Grandma's! I didn't know that my grandma and grandpa were hosting dinner at their house and had invited my cousins and aunts and uncles! I was so glad because I don't get to see them all very often.
Random thought: does everyone else refer to their uncles and aunts' spouses as their uncles and aunts? I always say "my aunt Jackie" because that's what I called her growing up. She's not blood related, but of course she's my aunt! I didn't really think about it until my one uncle got divorced and re-married. His wife Pam is lovely and so thoughtful and friendly. I like her a lot. In fact, I like her much better than my cousins' mother, the ex-wife. But that's who I grew up calling Aunt. And I don't automatically refer to Pam as my aunt. I would say, "my uncle's wife." But that's not fair when I would introduce my other uncle's wife as "Aunt." Confusing? Yes.
I've only got Monday left, and then I fly back home to L.A. on Tuesday. Short, but sweet!