there is a thing that i discovered when i lived in sweden that is quite common – and fun. and it seemed like the perfect time to include it in my/our american life.
you see, sometimes, when friends or family members have a birthday, they choose to celebrate together. they add their ages together and then say that they are having a 50 years party (two 25 year olds), for example. well, lina and i have celebrated some pretty big birthdays this year – 30 and 40. so, there was nothing else to do but celebrate our 70th together!!
and last friday, we did just that. we invited friends (who also invited some friends) and decided to hang out at one of my favorite places in asheville, the bywayer. it’s a bar that sits on the banks of the french broad river. a place for kayakers or tubers or rafters to pull out and grab a beer and grill some food.
of course, you can drive to this place as well. but, it’s hidden behind a tall wooden fence, looking like not much of anything from the street-side. seeing as this is a bar, it doesn’t sell food, but it does provide a big backyard, grills, picnic tables, lots of drinks, train tracks, and coziness. plus, as i said before, it’s by the river.
it’s a super relaxed place to be – and i mean just be. yourself. as yourself. a place of realness and a sense of acceptance and freedom.
so, we gathered there last friday with about 15 or so friends. we talked, drank, laughed, snacked, and had a delicious cake provided by my brother.
it was the absolutly perfect 70 years celebration. absolutely perfect.
undoubtedly this was the perfect day. the perfect way to usher in a new decade, a new year, and a new season of my life. it was simple. authentic. peaceful. it filled with nature + food/drink. but, most importantly, i had my amazing family around me. my love even skipped class to be with me the whole day – and that’s a big, huge deal. from the sunrise breakfast in bed to the late night sipping on bubbles, and everything in-between, my birthday was magical, glorious, and overwhelmingly perfect.
thank you to everyone who left your wishes and love here on the blog, on Facebook, or on instagram. my heart is full and i am still overflowing with joy and gratitude. i’ve got a little quote to sum up exactly how i feel:
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
now it’s time for some fun photos captured on my iPhone – a little bit silly and crazy, but also a little “behind the scenes” look at wedding preparations and the wedding day.
in case you don’t know what i’m talking about, my wife’s sister got married last saturday and i was one of the photographers for the day. i posted some of my “professional” photos in a previous post, but now i thought i’d give you a little bit more of a personal look at the festivities.
after we returned from the week we spent at a camp out in the archipelago (click here to see those photos!), it was wedding central here as we prepared for he big day. lina, my wife, was the maid of honor, so she had lots to prepare. plus, she was going to sing with her cousin at the wedding as well. i was asked to be “toastmaster”/host, along with lina’s and ulrika’s (the bride) brother. i really had no idea what that entailed, except that he and i were in charge of hosting/emceeing the program that took place during the three-ish hours of dinner/cake & coffee. needless to say, i was freaking out. but, in my soul, i knew it’d be all right. and it was. more on that later. oh, and yes, i was a photographer too!
all that to say, we had a lot going on before the wedding – including making the paper brochures/programs that my love designed, to sit at each place setting. they were filled with information, games, and songs to be used during the reception. we made 70 of them, and there were about 7 pages in each, so it was a lot of cutting, gluing, and putting together. plus, we had some bags of goodies/necessary items to use during the reception as well. 70 of them too. i think it took us (me, lina, & paige) about 24 hours in total to complete everything. phew. but, it was so worth it. i think everything looked amazing!
we did have a break in those 24 hours to go and get drinks with a very special person – and holy fun, batman. it was a hilarious evening of laughter, giggles, photos, and a chance to just relax together. plus, the drinks were a-a-amazing.
friday we completed all of the programs and decorations that we were in charge of and lina finally had a chance to rehearse with the other musicians – her cousins – late into the night. you know, just hours before the wedding. no biggie. hehe. paige and i ate dinner out while they rehearsed, but met up with them as they finished up. i got all teary-eyed when i listened to them as the practiced in the church where i used to work – so many emotions, memories, and feelings. all good, though. it was a good, overwhelmed kind of cry.
the wedding day arrived, and we are all whisked off to separate places. lina went to her sister’s to get ready for the ceremony. paige and i headed out to the venue, a lovely and quaint cafe area by the water about 15 minutes outside of the city. there, we put the finishing touches on the tables, made a little photo booth corner for guests to use during the afternoon/night, and made sure the final things were ready.
when we finished our duties, we had a little bit of time before everyone arrived, so we headed to the cafe for a cozy lunch with an amazing view of the water. then, we headed back to the reception area and got ourselves all ready for the wedding. the fun was about to begin!
after the ceremony, my second job began. by now, jonas (lina’s brother) and i realized we really didn’t know what we were doing, though we had plans for the entire evening. so we did what we both try to do best: wing it. but, really, we just took a few deep breaths, stood up, welcomed everyone and began to share with them information. then, as the reception and meal went on, we just took some more deep breaths, discussed with one another what we’d do next, and every so often, decided that it was time that we provide a bit more entertainment/activity. i have to say, it was so much fun. and jonas, well, he was the best partner ever!
on my other side at the table, sat lina’s “bonus” brother (long story, but he is part of the family). with him and jonas by my sides, the evening was just amazing – and hilarious. then, it was party time – and my duties were done! after the first dance was complete, lina grabbed my hand and pulled me out on the dance floor – not hard to do because i love, love, love to dance. and the party was officially on. everyone was gettin’ jiggly wid’it. and i had a few moments of pure bliss, of realizing one again, how blessed i am. and how amazing it is to be in swede, celebrating a wedding, and to belong – to have my own place here, just as i have my own place in asheville/north carolina. i belong both places – and amazing and heart-breaking fact of my life.
it was a fantastic day, one where i was completely and totally exhausted from at the end of it – and the end of it was about 3 am. still, i would not have changed one tiny little thing. what a joy. what a life. what an amazing adventure of love.