My dear, dear friend Sarah Beth…who I’ve adventured with at Island Lake, and in Portland, and in Bandon…who almost died three years ago…who converted me into a lover of personality assessments…THAT remarkably magical Sarah Beth Wilcoxson is now Sarah Beth Boyer.
She was married, in Texas, last Friday. August 10.
August 10 also happens to be my parents’ anniversary, so they flew out early and vacationed in Texas for a few days. Amy and I took a red eye from Portland to Austin, arrived early Friday morning, and then got a few hours of extra sleep in our parents’ hotel room before driving north for the wedding.
I was a bridal table server, which is a specific niche in the wedding honor hierarchy that I’ve never occupied before. I got to the church early, arriving in the middle of a typical pre-wedding flurry. Bridesmaids lounged in the nursery, re-curling their hair and drinking Red Bull. Sarah Beth and Andy’s families stood outside in the sweltering Texas heat and attempted to get every child looking pleasant for the photos.
I loved the fairy look of the bridesmaids, with their tulle skirts and lavender crowns.
The ceremony went off nicely, with Sarah Beth looking radiant and beautiful, and Andy looking handsome and proud. They did a unity painting, the way some people do unity sand or a unity candle. I’d never seen that done before.
Then they were married, and he carried her down the aisle, and the rest of us were ushered out. I was on the end of the bridal table server bench, and we got ushered out first (before family even), so I was the first person ushered out of the church after the bridal party. I know I’m focusing on the least important part of the wedding here, but after so many years of waiting and waiting and WAITING to be ushered out of weddings, being the very first one for once felt nice.
To me, the strangest part of the wedding was the way that very few people seemed aware of just how amazing Sarah Beth is. In Oregon, she’s spoken of as almost a legendary figure. But out in Texas people didn’t seem to know her that well.
Although most of Sarah Beth’s roots are in Oregon, her family moved to Oklahoma several years ago. She stayed on in Oregon for a while, then moved to Oklahoma for a bit, before moving down to Texas to live nearer her boyfriend Andy. When she got married she considered coming back to Oregon for the wedding, but eventually decided to just get married in Texas.
At the open mic, her family members and friends from Oregon stood up and spoke of the huge impact she’s made in our lives. Tears were shed. Maybe now these Texas people who don’t know her very well…maybe now they’ll understand the gift they’re getting, I thought.
Sarah Beth and Andy left the venue in a shower of sparklers, tin cans clinking behind their car. I wish them every blessing and happiness.
Part 2: Austin Texas
Mom and Dad were leaving from Austin in the early afternoon, but Amy and I didn’t need to leave until 8 pm. So we got dropped off at the capitol building. We planned to spend our afternoon exploring Austin.
First, we toured the capital. It was extra special because it was India’s Independence day, so there were a lot of Indian Americans at the Capital, doing traditional dances and such.
After our tour, we went outside hoping there would be some traditional Indian food set up as part of the Independence day festivities. But we were out of luck. As the oppressive August heat beat down on us, we searched Google for food near us. Please don’t make us walk very far, dear Google. It is very warm today.
It looked like there was some Korean food close by. But as we neared the place, we saw that first of all, it was a food cart instead of a restaurant, and second of all, it appeared to be closed.
“Can you spare a dollar?” there was a woman sitting in front of the food cart. She looked like she was strung out on drugs.
“Is this food cart open?” Amy asked.
“I’m blind,” said the woman.
“But do you know if this food cart is open?” Amy asked.
“Oh. No, it’s closed on the weekends.”
“Thank you,” we said.
“So, are you gonna give me a dollar? Surely you can spare a dollar.”
Well, I don’t like to judge who is worthy of a dollar and who isn’t, but this lady looked like the last thing she needed was a dollar to spend on drugs. So I tried to politely decline, and she started cussing at us, and we moved on.
We ate at Subway. I will never make it as a foodie.
However, as we sat there munching sandwiches and sipping iced tea, Amy got excited. “Those ladies are speaking Thai!” she said.
“Really?” I asked. “What are they saying?”
I was hoping for something juicy. Maybe they’d be gossiping about us, with no idea that my very American-looking sister could understand them the whole time.
“She just asked what time it is,” said Amy.
“Well, you should go talk to them,” I said.
So she did, excited for a chance to jabber in Thai again.
After we finished eating, we had to, again, walk pass the “blind” lady who’d asked us for a dollar. She cussed at us some more, and then yelled, “YOU’RE NOT ACTUALLY AMISH!!!”
And you’re not actually blind. Guess we’re even now.
After that we visited a cool old bakery-turned-museum we’d happened to pass, but eventually we ran into a conundrum: Everything we wanted to do either cost more than we wanted to spend, or else involved being outside in the oppressive Texas heat.
That’s when we decided to go swimming.
Now. My dear, dear sister Amy, knowing that I like to swim, had researched places to swim in Austin. She herself had no intention of swimming, but was happy to sit and read while I played in the water to my heart’s content.
I thought that was really, really sweet of her.
We rode the bus to Barton Springs Pool, and then got off and walked on a path along the river. The closer we got to the pool, the more people we saw in the river, swimming or kayaking or paddleboarding. At the end of the path, a large fence separated the river from the pool. It looked like someone had poured concrete around a section of the river to make it pool-like. However, peeking through the fence, the pool looked just as crowded as the river, so I figured, why pay the extra $3? I’ll just swim in the river.
(I feel like “why pay the extra $3?” is my real life philosophy, and it’s a little embarrassing.)
The river was a mixture of frat boys, young families, and hippies. Amy parked herself next to a young blond guy who was sitting on the bank strumming a guitar. She pulled out a book, and began to read.
If you are wondering how I managed to change into swimming clothes, I just wore the t-shirt I’d been wearing all day, and swapped my skirt for a pair of swimming trunks. I could do this perfectly modestly, but it still felt kinda weird to change in front of people, so I went into the woods for a little privacy.
And then, emerging from the woods wearing my t-shirt and trunks, I jumped in.
Splashing around in the water on such a hot day felt amazing. I didn’t even mind all the people there, because it felt like I was getting a taste of the real Austin. The real Austin spends Saturdays in August at the river, playing with their dogs, splashing their brothers, and lounging on watermelon-colored floaties with their buddies.
After my swim, the day no longer felt too hot. It felt perfect. Perfectly perfect.
Amy found some public restrooms on Google, so we walked through the pretty park until we found them. The wind whipped through the trees in beautifully refreshing gusts.
“A storm is coming,” said Amy.
The “restrooms” were actually port-a-pots, but they still provided ample privacy, and I changed into dry clothes. Outside was a dispenser of small plastic bags, designed to carry dog poop. I took a couple, rolled my wet clothes up in them, and stuck them in my backpack.
Just as we stepped onto the bus that would take us back to the airport, a few drops of rain started falling. The drops turned to torrents. Thunder rattled the sky.
Looks like we’d picked the perfect time to curtail our adventures and get on the bus.
The TSA guy had to search my backpack because he was suspicious of the dog poop bags full of wet clothes, but other than that our trip home had no real hitches or glitches.
Sarah Beth, thanks for being in our lives. It was an honor to attend your wedding. I wish you God’s richest blessings in your marriage.