Destination weddings are usually the realm of close family and friends. Destination weddings to locales difficult to reach are even more so. I looked around and realized I knew not a soul besides the bride and even she I'd only met in real life once.
Morgan and I bonded over chickens. Using twitter all those years ago, we sent each other coop plans, breed ideas, articles, and posts. We saw ourselves as at the forefront of urban farming with our cute coops, our fluffy hens, and our adorable children collecting eggs. I was excited to finally meet her at Bloggy Boot Camp in San Diego. We exchanged hugs and smiles and conversation, easily transitioning from twitter to reality.
Shortly after that trip, my life fell apart. She was a strand in the rope keeping me moored to the dock of sanity. We texted. We chatted. And then, a few months later, she too was cast adrift in the sea of divorce. We bonded over paperwork and horribly funny dating stories. Flurries of texts would be followed by months of silence and then another flurry of texts as if only a moment had passed. When she met her farmer, their story gave me goosebumps and a renewed faith in the romantic nature of the Universe.
Through it all, she told me about her island. She insisted I needed to visit because it was a place to heal. I said "one day" with only vague intentions of visiting, though I dreamed of how amazing it would be. Then, four months ago, I mentioned on Facebook that I was thinking of traveling to the Pacific Northwest. A text quickly followed telling me I should plan it the weekend of her wedding.
Which is how I found myself sitting on a wooden bench, surrounded by strangers, and witnessing a tear and laughter filled wedding ceremony. After, as pictures were being taken, the kids and I wandered to the waterfront, our drinks in hand, to soak in the peace and beauty of the spot.
Children being children, we found ourselves at the trampoline in short order. I introduced myself to a British professor and his professor wife who summer on the island and spent a few minutes in general conversation.
"Watch out," he warned me in his lovely accent, "children tend to go feral on the island."
I looked at the kids bouncing, "Don't they always?"
"It's different," his wife said. She tried to articulate it more clearly. "It might be the safety - there's no crime here. Or maybe it's that the days are so long."
I nodded. By the end of the night I'd understand.
We wandered to the tables, carrying our own wooden benches. We refilled our drinks and mingled with still more people. We met two lovely women who not only spoke to me, but to the kids. They knelt to their level and begged dances and conversation, charming the gingers with their laughter and obvious delight. We chatted under the shade of a tree while the kids took off their shoes and ran back to the trampoline. There were toasts, music, pizza fresh from a clay oven. A soccer game started. Rings were tossed. Clothes were stripped off for a late afternoon swim in the Sound.
I walked back to the water's edge at dusk, watching the splashing of the swimmers rounding the buoy bobbing in lazy waves. A sense of peace settled over me. My shoulders relaxed. I took a deep, easy breath of the salt and pine tinged air and turned to look back up the gentle slope. Green and red lights swirled while dancers shouted "timber". My kids were on the dance floor, barefoot and sweaty. Elizabeth's hair had come free of her bun while braids swung around her head. One of Morgan's daughters had lost her dress and was dancing in her slip, holding hands with Joseph. Two teens were wearing wet dresses having run from the water to the dance floor. Adults from every generation were missing shoes or jackets, their bodies dancing to the tribal beats.
It's not just children who go feral on the island.