A Wedding in Washington

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of visiting our cousins in Virginia and coming into Washington, DC to see the Smithsonian museums and other landmarks. It was only on those big summer vacations that we got to see other relatives. We didn’t grow up with a lot of family around us, certainly no other Filipinos, so seeing people who looked like us and were raised like us was both a curiosity and a relief. If all you’ve ever known throughout your life is what it’s like to be different, finding a kindred person who’s been through what you’ve been through just feels good – it’s a reassurance of sorts.

The oldest of our cousins, and just a year younger than me, was Martina. She was the responsible one, the one who studied, the one who behaved and did what she was supposed to do. Not unlike the oldest in our family (ahem). But my brother and I sensed a bit of rebellion in her, so whenever we got together I think she let her good behavior slide for a bit and let loose with the rambunctious ones. We were, after all, just kids.

We met them at other family events too, usually the weddings of our older cousins – the generation slightly ahead of us. At one of those weddings the group of us kids snuck out of the reception, running across a highway to the Friendly’s across the way. It struck terror into the hearts of Aunts and Uncles who suddenly missed us for some reason, and when we returned it was to great relief and the quick call-off of a search party. Such is the stuff of kids, and Martina was always along for the ride, albeit sometimes reluctantly.

This past weekend she was the one getting married – the last of our generation to do so, as the rest of have already been down that aisle. In a way, it’s the end of an era – the bittersweet final sentence in our Childhood Volumes. We’re all adults now – there’s no turning back – and I embrace it with the hesitancy of Peter Pan and the wariness of Puff the Magic Dragon.

This time around the ceremony was beautiful – as was the bride – and I’ve never seen a happier woman walking down the aisle. She positively beamed, with an unceasing smile and continual laugh as she made her way to her husband to be. The reception was another classy affair, held in one of the Ballrooms at the Mandarin Oriental, and backed by one of the most fun bands in my recent memory. In all, it was a magical evening – sealed by the traditionally-grand toast by her Dad (who has always delivered at the weddings of his children).

As the night closed on the wedding, and our weekend in Washington, I looked out over the Potomac, at the glowing pillars of the Jefferson Memorial – ghostly and pale in the midst of all the darkness. It would be difficult to go back. It always was.

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