"I don't see why Americans think it's so awful, the World Trade Center attacks--- in the scale of things," a New York businessman commented at the wedding I attended last weekend. Heather and Martin were getting married on Wards Island and a table of New York guests sat talking. Heather and I had left New York City together with our children on 9/11. The businessman had gone to art school with her. Now he did multi-million dollar renovations and headed to the mountains, snow-boarding, when he got the time, he said. Now Heather lived in Toronto and I live in Vancouver with my two kids.
"Given the foreign policy of the United States for all these years, the invasions, the wars,"...the businessman's voice trailed off. He shook his head. What had Americans expected? No, New Yorkers weren't all for the mosque being built near the site of Ground Zero. Some were. Some weren't. Those you'd expect to go one way, went another. He shrugged.
At another table, handsome young men with deep voices drank beer and toasted the bride and groom. The young man at the centre of the action was 18-year-old David. The last time I saw David was only a few months after we left New York City together on 9/11, the day he watched through a window in his school four blocks from the Twin Towers, bodies falling. He had been in Grade Five. Handsome, with broad shoulders and sideburns, his deep voice boomed out. His life had not been easy since the planes hit The Towers. He was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he reached adolescence. Doctors asked if he had been through any particular stress.
Hurricane force winds blew that night off the coast of Newfoundland and churned up the waters of Lake Ontario. The drama of the wind wasn't lost on those of us on Heather's side. We had toiled against it as we walked from the ferry to the wedding hall. Stopping to view the city of Toronto across the plain of choppy water, I joked with two actors that I wouldn't be surprised if the hurricane blew right in and we got stranded on the island together. Heather and Martin had already been caught up in the drama of the one billion dollar security build-up for the G20 Summit in Toronto.
They had scheduled their wedding for the weekend of the G20, but before it was announced. When they realized how hard it was going to be to get anywhere at that time, they rescheduled. We had all re-booked our tickets to get to the wedding. Martin has a large network of friends,many of whom are actors. Heather is an artist. Their warm, compelling intensity must have drawn them together, as it drew us to gather round them that night---despite windstorms and extra plane fare and demands in faraway homes.
Heather wore a pink gown she found in a vintage shop. Martin wore a tux. They spoke their vows and then Martin held Heather in his arms and kissed her. A rosy glow filled the hall as it does at weddings where couples seem wonderfully right for each other and in love. It was a second marriage for both Heather and Martin and they each had teenaged kids whom they'd merged into a reconfigured extended family. The hard work and beauty of parents and children added depth to the glow.
I thought of when I'd first met Heather in New York City. Her daughter, Nicola, and my son, Eli, had been in preschool together at NYU. They seemed to be the same people they were back then. Nicola, at 14, seemed not to have changed much from the little girl in frilly dresses and Mary Jane shoes who danced into school in the mornings, and yet she had matured into a willowy, brainy beauty. And the New Yorkers from our shared preschool past instantly recognized Eli, who was almost 14, and commented that he also seemed exactly the same, only longer. Like each of us, they carried inside them the seed of the past and yet they were altered by politics, history, and the passage of time.
The newlyweds began dancing. They'd promised to love and care for each other forever, and it seemed that they would.