Our Wedding Day
Our wedding ad was 21 December 1997, the winter solstice and my birthday. At high noon the guests assembled at a tiny orthodox Jewish synagogue in , Magain David Sephardim. A short time thereafter I was joined in matrimony to Rosie, my sweetie of just under two years.
Rosie and I met by chance, over dinner. In my bachelor days it was a custom of mine to have weekly dinner gatherings, typically in a new establishment never before frequented by the guests. (This is a non-trivial problem, even in a city with as many restaurants as ours.) In the winter of 1995-1996 I was renewing an decade-old acquaintance with a coworker, and we started visiting sushi restaurants each week.
The coworker’s wife had wanted to be more social, and had started getting together with a long-time coworker of hers. She encouraged her husband to renew our connection, leading to our dinners. After a while she wanted to meet me, and for her coworker to meet her husband. These introductions would happen at the next weekly dinner outing.
It was sparks – between Rosie and me – at first meeting, although we were good and childish and made our pre-courtship last through months of weekly dinners (and a trip of hers throughout Europe and one of mine to Kaua’i, Hawai’i). In May, Rosie and I started dating.
Our courtship was carried out on long walks through the city, and even longer hikes in the countryside. Dinners at all sorts of restaurants – a multitude of cuisines – in a variety of cities, from San Francisco to Reno, Nevada to Manhattan. We saw movies of all genres (at home and at local cinemas), went to the theatre, marched in the 1997 Gay Pride Parade, and participated as Black Rock Rangers in the 1996 and 1997
festivals. We walked Golden Gate Park in all directions, exploring everything from the dunes and birds along the Pacific Ocean (bounding the west) to the Conservatory of Flowers (on the east side) to the “Bay to Breakers” end-of-race gathering in the polo fields and a concert celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Summer of Love in the soccer fields.
We went to the Marina district, out to Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge, to find a dark spot suitable for long-time gazing at comet . We spent countless hours in the streets of Chinatown, North Beach, Nihonmachi (Japantown) – where we had a rubber stamp of our likenesses made, the Haight-Ashbury, and West Portal. We saw blue heron in the park, white cranes at Lake Merced, feral parrots between Coit Tower and the Greenwich/Filbert steps, and the occasional hawk being chased by blackbirds.
We were together and we were apart. A series of business trips were taking me to to Phoenix, Arizona and New York City for a week at a time. (The trips let us visit the Grand Canyon, Tucson, and Manhattan.) Our weekends were a frenzy of togetherness and laundry. Future adventures loomed, and I asked Rosie to be my wife (from across the country, from an 42nd floor office overlooking Rockefeller Center). She accepted.
Our meeting of the minds continued in our wedding plans. We wanted something traditional, true to our heritage, without too many frills and gloss. In the autumn we were invited by a long-time friend of Rosie’s to attend Yom Kippur services. The moment we entered the tiny worship area we knew this could be the place. When we heard Rabbi Shalom Ezran, we knew this was the place. We scheduled a date seven weeks hence, went shopping for paper and raffia to make invitations, compiled a list of invitees, and mailed out the stuffed, bulging envelopes.
Of course, nothing goes as smoothly as all that. Along with the architecture of the synagogue and the ethnic variety of its members (from East Africa, Israel, Turkey, Morocco, etc.) and languages spoken in the service (Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and English), the food was part of the allure of the setting. A veritable circus surrounded this issue, what with the cook of the food we’d fallen for leaving the employment of the temple, the new cook hurting her back a week before the wedding, and a superb replacement brought in at the last moment by the Rabbi.
Everything worked out well, however. The service was very traditional, a comfort, especially to the survivors of the Holocaust who live to attend. Our ketubah was beautifully written by a local scribe, a woman with many years of experience and an eye for the curves of the Aramaic script. The rabbi read the ketubah to all of us, blessings were said, wine was sipped, and the glass was broken. We were married.
Downstairs the cooks were laying out the results of a day of cooking: a celebration of the ethnic diversity of our congregation. It was delicious. The dancing was joyous, the singing boisterous, the conversation animated. The celebration ran late into the day, the Rabbi staying until the last (or at least until I carried my new wife out of the synagogue and into our car, festooned with ribbons and colored with paints and cream).
We drove off into the orange sunset, stopping once at the Pacific Ocean and then again at Twin Peaks. Our adventure together has begun.
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