One of the hardest things about canceling our One Day Wedding was knowing that my grandparents — Nana and Eee — would no longer be coming down to meet Roberto. If you’re wondering about the Eee part — I gave my grandfather the nickname when I was still a baby and he’d tickle me and whisper “Eeeeeee…” while I melted with laughter. After that, every time I saw him coming I’d call out, “Eee!” and it stuck. To this day, he is known as Eee to all his grandchildren and it brings me joy knowing I was a small part of that.
Over the river and through the woods was exactly how it felt when we traveled to Nana and Eee’s house. They lived six hours away in a country town called Eldorado — which felt like it was on the other side of the world when I was young — and going there was always a special occasion. My sister and I would nod off over our Magna Doodles as we left Chicago and wake up in an entirely different universe — Nana and Eee’s universe, a sleepy town on the edge of endless cornfields where people still said “Hello” on the street.
Just a few months ago, Roberto and I were on our way home here in San Cris and this sleep-happy feeling crept over me that felt like deja vu — then I realized I had experienced it before, years ago with a Magna Doodle up on my lap, pulling into Nana and Eee’s driveway. So I wrote this:
I realized tonight
Part of why I love San Cris so much
Is because it reminds me of Eldorado
There was this old auto repair shop right in front of Nana’s house
With a weathered, hand painted sign
(I always found comfort in rural Illinois)
And the old hand painted signs of Mexico
Remind me of that tiny car shop
I remember that feeling
When I was little
We’d drive the 6 hours to Nana’s
(An eternity to a child)
And get there real late at night
Pull into town
Waiting for us
Old yellow street lights
Stark churches and tiny houses
There’s nothing like the feeling
Of pulling into Nana’s driveway late at night
She always had cookies and was wide awake
A sparkling moment at the end of a long drive
Nana’s house was magic
The shadows at the end of that long hallway to her bedroom
The rich red arms of her living room at Christmas
The green chocolates and the closets full of treasure
The sunlit rooms behind glass doors
And the pool
There is something in San Cris
That feels like Nana’s house
Tucked away in a trail of yellow lights
Long shadows, hand painted signs, unexplainable magic
I hear my Nana in my own voice
When I talk to my dog
When I laugh at a joke
When I call someone’s name
I hear my Nana in my voice
And I see her in the hand painted signs of San Cris
And I feel closer to home
My parents divorced when I was young enough to forget what nuclear feels like — and after shuffling between them for the next 20 years, even my childhood home lost its sheen. It was Mom and Bob’s or Dad and Michelle’s and I lived somewhere in the middle. But, at Nana and Eee’s, I always knew I belonged. Nana and Eee never stopped being home to me. And I brought that home here with me to San Cris.
So, on Sunday when I called them and my Nana’s voice wafted out from my computer and over the Chiapanecan mountains, it was almost as good as pulling into her driveway. What happened next sealed the deal.
Roberto appeared behind me, resting his chin on my shoulder, listening intently to my Nana’s voice. “I never heard her voice before,” he whispered to me, smiling. And then Eee got on the phone and Roberto pulled up a chair. Just listening. And smiling. And looking at me with eyes that said, “How does it feel to be home?”
“You sound just like your interviews!” Eee bellowed when Roberto said his hellos. “I want you to ask your grandparents to marry us,” Roberto said in my ear.
“What does Roberto think of all this One Year Wedding stuff?” Eee asked.
“Well, he actually wants to know if you’ll marry us right now!”
“I now pronounce you…is that good enough?” It was. We fumbled to exchange our rings — the only wedding we’ve had without vows, but just as tearful and meaningful as our wordiest ceremonies.
When we said our goodbyes (the worst part of traveling to Eldorado) I rested my chin on Roberto’s shoulder and cried and cried and cried.
“I knew that Nana and Eee should marry us,” he told me, “because it would heal your heart.”
It was, for me, our most exciting, most romantic, most memorable wedding day yet — even after a week where the Huffington Post and WGN Morning News and Australian talk shows and Jimmy Fallon all “celebrated” with us. Because nothing beats a wedding at home.