We came up with the idea for our engagement party just after New Year’s. It was around then that I was knee-deep in a Google Sheet laying out the costs of all the rentals it would take to build a structure in and under which to get married in Chuck’s dad’s yard, on a farm in Noble County, where we are both from. Somehow, the cost of the tents and the dance floor and the catering and the entertainment was rising into the thousands, and we hadn’t even gotten to the booze yet. I couldn’t find a local photographer I both loved and could afford.
The whole process was stressing me and Chuck out. One night, we came up with a compromise between what we both wanted: He would have been fine with not having any wedding at all, but he knew I wanted a big party to celebrate with our friends and family. We met in the middle and agreed to plan an engagement party for April 4, a potluck dinner with daffodils as centerpieces and a couple of those Instax cameras by a cute photo booth with silly props. We’d tell everyone there would be a champagne toast to the couple, when in actuality, it would be a surprise wedding ceremony.
Over the next several weeks, everything seemed to fall into place. The venue we wanted, a former Methodist church where Chuck’s family had their Christmas, was available for the date we wanted. My remote friends booked flights. Chuck’s sister agreed to make us a cake and his brother-in-law got ordained (and has been hilariously milking his new “holy” status, by the way). My good friend from college offered to do our photography for cheap. Plus, only those people, our parents, and a handful of out-of-state friends knew it was a wedding. It was so fun to have a secret and I worked closely with my photographer on how to best capture everyone’s reactions once they realized they were at a pop-up wedding.
But last Thursday, I texted Sarah and Stefanie, two friends in the know living in Utah and Massachusetts, respectively:
“Uhhhhh, should I cancel my wedding????”
At the time, they were still cheerfully planning on flying in. I was so excited to show them and my other Chicago friends my hometown and a beautiful part of Ohio. But things got worse and worse, and last Friday, after talking to my dad, I sent a mass email and text chain and cancelled.
Initially, I thought I should try to reschedule for June or July. But my dad pointed out what was, at the time, a hard truth: This might not be over by then. Who knows what the rest of 2020 will look like? Who can say?
I had bought everything we needed. For the last three months, my stepson’s wedding outfit, my dress, and a mountain of decorations have cluttered our guest bedroom. On Saturday, I packed it all up in boxes and put it away. It’s all ridiculously spring-themed, just so much yellow and lavender, and it’s never going to work for any other time of year. My friend Eileen in Switzerland donated our wedding favors, mailing us boxes and boxes of Swiss chocolates shaped like Easter eggs in colorful foil wrappers. The first box arrived two days ago, with an unintentionally eerie birthday card enclosed, all talk of “in-person hugs” soon to come. Not soon enough, it turns out!!!!
Our fun, secret wedding has been postponed indefinitely. I took all of Friday to be very, very sad, but immediately after that, Chuck’s son’s school closed and we had bigger fish to fry.
Anyway, it would have been a pretty party. It’s a small thing in such a huge pit of big, big things. Meanwhile, I am buying up gift certificates to local restaurants I love because I don’t want them to collapse. Today I gave blood for the first time (for SHAAAME, I know, I’m a wuss) because I heard we’re going to need it. I gave money here and maybe you can too, if you’re able.
But enough about that – Let’s move on to the matter at hand:
What I’ve Been Making for the Internet
During what has felt like the strangest week of my life, the Columbus Anthology was published. The launch party for it was cancelled, but at least this book exists. I have an essay appearing in it, about roller derby and resistance. Please support BELT Publishing by purchasing this essay collection and maybe something else from their store!
It has been helpful for me to focus on productive local reporting, so this week I contributed to some Clutch MOV resources about restaurants and businesses still offering goods and services from a safe distance, like curbside food to-go and some fitness places PIVOTING TO VIDEO with online workouts. I also interviewed a bunch of local residents about how they are spending their time in quarantine so far.
I organized a group watch of Catwoman with some girl friends for tonight and it’s nice to have a dumb social thing to look forward to on a Friday night. Gonna drink some of that wine I bought for my wedding!! (We were originally going to watch Cats, but I guess it’s not available to rent until April 7.)
What I’ve Been Reading
PSA: My PayPal account got hacked last month, and maybe this is why? It’s still unclear. The hacker bought a $100 Starbucks gift card via PayPal and tried to order a second one, but Starbucks flagged it as a suspicious purchase. Luckily my bank was able to stop payment on the first charge so I ended up getting my money back.
So, like, the world is on fire right now? But I am still grieving the loss of Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for president. Sure would be nice to have someone like her running shit right now.
You all know I can’t resist a long read about a scamming MLM, so here is the latest on what went down with LuLaRoe. Did you know twin sisters founded it and now they no longer speak to each other? GIMME THAT DIRT.
What I Loved This Week
For the last 18 months, I’ve gone to a Temple Challenge HIIT class at least once a week. They’ve had to stop classes, but tomorrow, they’re doing a free, LIVE 60-minute HIIT class and I am VERY EXCITED FOR IT. Join it on Facebook or Instagram at 10 a.m. Eastern.
Whole Foods has $20 beauty bags now, full of “clean” beauty products. Our current hellscape has made me break my New Years resolution to not buy anymore skincare products until I use the ones I already have, and I’m okay with that. (Also, it’s my birthday month, so I got free gifts from both Ulta and Sephora in my orders coming next week!)
Jenny Lewis did a Tiny Desk concert and it’s pretty great. She’s so cute and wonderful and I just love her so much! #HotPockets4Lyfe
This video combines my love of cats with my love of Rube Goldberg machines. MUST WATCH.
-The 2020 List of Twitter Calls for Pitches/Submissions Google Doc is up to date! There are lots of opportunities right now, so get your stuff out there.
Okay, that’s all for this installment! Hit reply if you like this newsletter and I’ll write you back. Or, hit forward if you’ve got a buddy you think would be into it. Later, folks!
About me: I wrote a collection of essays about love, loss, and roller derby. Buy a mini version of it for less than five bucks. I’m currently based in the Mid Ohio Valley after having lived in Chicago and Portland for a few years. Follow me on Instagram (@merylkwilliams) and Twitter (@MerylWilliams) for social media posts about the chilling feeling of agreeing with Tucker Carlson on something, trying to get Chuck’s son into basketball despite a cancelled NBA season, and being thankful my therapist can use FaceTime for remote appointments.
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