Friday, October 26, 2007

runaway (almost) bridesmaid

Dedicated to the new: Mr & Mrs Chambers!
(The following happened the week of October 13th)

My week was rolling along as planned. On Thursday morning, I headed up to Charlotte for a 2 day MDA regional meeting. The meeting was held at the National Whitewater training facility (very cool, see: http://www.usnwc.org/). They gave us the afternoon off to go rafting, mountain biking, hiking, etc… I opted for running because I was planning to race the final SCTS event: Hartsville International Tri on Saturday… So, I got in a nice run before reconvening for our group dinner.

Friday was a day full of meetings… somewhat wrapping up 2007, and laying out plans for ’08. Important note: because of the meetings, I had my cell phone set to silent.

When we finally broke on Friday afternoon, my colleges and I (from the G’ville office) booked it out of there and hit the road. We all had things to get back for… and I needed to get everything ready for the next morning’s race.

I made it to Peter’s house later in the evening. He was nice enough to put race wheels on my bike and cook a huge pasta dinner. I spent some time preparing my transition bag and then we sat down to eat. Fully “loaded,” and exhausted from meetings/traveling/packing I made my way to bed.

As I was getting ready to crash… I reached for my cell phone. In all my rushing around, I’d forgotten to take it off silent. Hum, missed a call from Leah… and a text from her saying, “where are you.”

*side note #1: Leah is one of my Best Friends! She and I were roommates throughout college… after first meeting at freshmen orientation; we grew extremely close during our time in Athens, GA. Anyway, she and Bradley got engaged early this year. I was thrilled to be asked to be a bridesmaid in their wedding.

*side note #2: I’m 26… therefore wedding, bridal shower, and baby shower invitations are hitting my mailbox like birthday party invites did when I was 9. It just so happens that 2 wedding invitations arrived on the same day; one for October 13th and one for November 10th. I committed the dates to memory, and planed to enter them on my calendar once I got to my computer.

*side note #3: I messed up big-time. After later investigation, I mixed up the couples / dates when entering things on the calendar. But, once something is on my calendar… I never question it again. I had numerous conversations with Leah… about my dress, taking time off work on “Friday” to get to the rehearsal & rehearsal dinner. Made a hair cut appointment.

So, I told myself to call Leah after the race. Wonder what she needed?!

Well… as I was drifting off… my cell phone rang. 11:15 pm, and it was my Dad?! Oh no, what’s going on? I pick up, and the conversation goes something like this:

“Dad, what’s going on, are you alright?!”
“Ashley, are you OK?”
“Yeah, I’m sleeping… getting up tomorrow for a race.”
“Are you in Chattanooga?”
“What, no… I’m in bed.”
“Aren’t you in Leah’s wedding?”
“Uh, yeah… but, it’s in November.”
“Well, Leah seems to think otherwise… she called our home phone wondering where you are. They’re worried because you said you were leaving work early to get to the rehearsal.”
**** the sleep-cloud vanished ****

“WHAT… ohmygosh. How did I screw that up? I’ve got to call her, thanks for calling Dad.”

So, I called Leah. She was a bit stressed (rightfully so… night before the wedding and a bridesmaid goes MIA). I felt horrible. Suddenly the pound of pasta sitting in my stomach made me feel nauseous. There was no explanation; I can only apologize so many times before coming up with a plan to get up there!

Got my alarm set for 4:50 am. Thankfully, my dress was pressed and ready for the big day. Then, the next morning, I was running around my house getting things together. Unlike my original plans (coffee, oatmeal, spandex, sweatpants, transition bag, bike, etc…) I was in a completely different mode (shower, lotion, makeup, packing… bridesmaid dress, heels, strapless bra… etc…)

Still early in the morning, my half-way dressed up self jumped into the car and aimed for the ATL. Augh, driving to Chattanooga is so back-@$$ed. Looking at a map, you’d think it was quick and easy. Not so, my friends. From Greenville you have to drive all the way down to Atlanta, over (West), and all the way up I75. Pain in the butt.

What should have taken… much longer…. Took me 3.5 hours! Go me!

I arrived in Flintstone, GA (Leah's parents house... just outside of Chattanooga) and pulled onto Bedrock Ln. (Yes, that's right... ha ha ha). The ladies were in full wedding mode. KK (Leah's younger sister) let me in. Known for being a serious tomboy, KK's curled hair and make-up shocked me! I made my way upstairs and found Leah, and her mother, getting their hair done.

I was relieved to be there (before pictures/ceremony ;). Finally, I could take a second to breath. Leah and I chatted away, catching up and talking about the wedding & honeymoon. She seemed so calm, looked so beautiful, and exuded a happiness I'd never seen in her.

Hair and make-up done, we piled into cars and drove up Look-Out Mountain. What a perfect wedding location. We finished getting ready in the locker room of the Look-Out Mtn Country Club (site of the reception). Pictures were taken outside (while Bradley was quarantined to some closet or something). As the ceremony time grew closer, I could see Leah getting fidgety. She was anxious, nervous, excited... and still gorgeous (I mean, this girl should be on the cover of a Bridal Magazine!!).

5 min to show time, the rest of the bridesmaids and I headed outside. We met up with the groomsmen and got in line. Everything was perfect: the flowers were stunning, fantastic view, outstanding weather, happy people... everything a wedding should have.

I walk down the aisle covered with multicolored rose petals and took my place. Then the "old timey" car pulled along side the guests. Leah and her father stepped out, and my eyes were instantly wet. I was just so happy for her, happy to be standing up there with her, happy to see Bradley so in love with her, dammit I was happy for everyone. It was a moment I'll never forget.

The ceremony, under a chandelier full of flickering candles, was short and sweet. We broke for more pictures and then headed into the clubhouse. Fun fun fun: a huge band playing well known tunes (thumbs up for their "midnight train to Georgia" rendition); great food; 3 (count 'em) 3 wedding cakes (including a peanut butter/chocolate... Leah, I love you); happy/dancing people; more gorgeous flower arrangements; etc...

Soon the party began to wind down. Leah and Bradley were ready to get on the road (to spend the night in Atlanta before flying to Mexico the following day). *and here's where we had the only hitch: the genius groomsmen had "doctored up" Bradley's car. Ok, typical guys. Unfortunately, they did something to the spark plugs. Yeah, the car wouldn't start. After some serious wait time - Leah and Bradley finally got away in her mother's car.

I hung around to help clean up. We carted gifts and decorations back to Leah's parents house. After everyone made it home, I had a great time rehashing the night with Leah's mom. Don't even get me started on the Mother of the Groom.... who continually rolled her eyes during the ceremony, danced the night away with her "special guest" (aka Bradley's ex-girlfriend), and generally pissed people off.

Suddenly, exhaustion hit me. I crashed hard... but, not able to sleep well in strange beds, I woke up around 7 am. I found Leah's dad walking around in the back yard with their dogs. I spent some time catch up with him, then decided to get an early start on Atlanta traffic.

Waved goodbye to the Pilgrim household and aimed South for Atlanta. Luck was again on my side. Somehow I managed to, once again, avoid major traffic. The drive was peaceful, a good time to reflect... and call people I'd put on hold during tri season.

Once home, I grabbed my bike and headed out for a ride. Since I'd been preparing for a race... maybe a time trial? Yes! Totally smoked my best time on our regular 9 mile loop. Way to top off an awesome weekend.

To Leah & Bradley: I wish you all the happiness in the world. It's couples like you who make me believe in true love and soul mates.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ashley, this is SO suprising, even for you! ha ha. :) I remember my 26th and 27th year...I was in like 12 weddings and went to twice that many! Happy Weddings! I am done w/ most of those..and even the babies...almost. Except, I seem to have alot of YOUNG friends. :)
:) see you this weekend. Yeehaw
Jenny

Leah said...

Aw...thanks bud! It was a magical day and I'm so glad you made it!! :) We need to plan another visit (maybe a little longer and with a tad less psychotic mother in law!) Plus, I want you to see the house. Call me soon and love you.
Leah

Sally said...

Ashley I can hear the fear and overall joy in your voice. So glad everything turned out well. Leah is such a soul-mate friend. I love her and Bradley and wish them all the best. love, Mom