Nantucket Essays

June Weddings

• by Robert P. Barsanti •

On Saturday, I parked on Main Street near the Hub. June has many dress rehearsal pleasures. The lines are short (for everything besides the ferry), the strawberries weigh down their branches, and you can get an ice cream in under five minutes. On any given day, the humidity will build, the wind will shift, and the fog will send us all back into polar fleece and January.

This particular day had escaped from July and come running across the grass into our vernal arms. Sweet and quiet air washed up from the harbor, the elms dappled the bricks and above all, a crisp, blue sky. Three different cloud patterns crossed above: one thin filet of sole drifted to the east, a long white cockatoo plume drifted north, and two small lost puffs of cotton rolled southerly. To stand on the bricks downtown, next to your own parking place, and underneath such a sky, is to know that God is in his heaven and enjoying a Watermelon Cream.

Somewhere in Connecticut, a family looks up at the sky from their backyard pool and realizes they could be on Nantucket. Out in Newton, a golf foursome walks up to their squibs in the roof, smells the ocean in the air, and wishes they were out on Nantucket already. Even in Brooklyn, as they admire the roses crawling up the back wall of a craft biergarten, they know that the roses are more full on island. And here we are, in this one spot, at this one time, under a deep Canadian blue with an entire afternoon to fritter away under the eye of heaven.

St. Mary’s was letting another married couple out into the world. The bride and groom emerged blinking onto the porch, followed by family and photographers. A flurry of petals swirled around them, then they stumbled into each other, still blinking, and then into the waiting backseat of a white 68 Shelby Mustang. The best man settled into the best seat then waited for the good wishes to fade before he pulled out. I don’t know how his foot felt on the clutch, but I can imagine.

St, Mary’s affords a fine view for onlookers and gawkers of all stripes. Put a few men in tuxedos on the porch, a couple of white “No Parking” signs and a discreet and brightly polished car out front, and we will come from all directions to lean on the Tonkin Wall and have a glance at the dresses and the suits.   I imagine many brides, their mothers, and the wedding coordinators, should shoo us away, as if the bride in her dress was a “Members-only” sight. Yet, the married couple has to come out, two by two, to the appreciative and hopeful eyes of the world. Under the blessings of such a day, it seems almost appropriate for the six of us to be there. At least, it doesn’t do any harm. If we weren’t so damn Yankee, we would applaud.

June was once the marrying month, under the “Honey Moon.” Then, as the business of marrying people got more lucrative and the weekend plans got more extensive, the brides started pushing their dates out into the fall. As long as the Hurricanes keep away, October is a fine month for golf, swimming, tennis, and even marrying. The summer culminates in October. We count the money, put the photos in albums, and bring the boat out of the water.

October also fits better for the well-heeled brides and grooms that come to the island now. They marry later in life, with full careers filling their sails and an outgoing tide rising under their keels. To them, a wedding is a bit of a culmination. It comes at the end of a long dating life, when you have broken a few hearts, boxed up a few mementoes, and broken that vial of blood. You have gone through the hurdles of your life, emerged battered but intact and now can claim a life partner.

A June wedding suggests a gamble. We don’t know what the summer has going for it, we don’t what the weather will be like, and we have only hope. If an October wedding is a culmination, a June wedding is a down payment. You don’t know if you’ll have the money later, you don’t know if you will even want it later, but the dice are hot, the night is bright, and life is short. You leave the church with hope, applause, and a lot of glare in your eyes.

Every wedding, at core, is a June Wedding. You emerge blinking into the sun, one way or another and then you do your best. You can’t emerge from the church and pretend that you haven’t changed or that change isn’t coming for you out of the northeast. Everyone goes into a wedding for their own reasons, but everyone comes out with “our” reasons. Side by side, two by two, and tied at the hip.

I was married on the last day of June. We stood on the wet grass in a deep fog and said words to each other, traded jewelry, kissed, and went forth together. The fog lifted, the sun lit the water, and the wind blew everyone’s hair. We were the same and we were different and the wide horizon waited for us. When the night throws me out the door, I know who will give me a ride home.

Articles by Date from 2012