Nantucket Essays

September Fates

by Robert P. Barsanti

The Fates were drinking wine. The 2:30 Hy-Line left Hyannis fully loaded with brides, guests, and consorts. Once out of the harbor, the swells came broadside at the ferry and rolled it in wind and spray across the Sound. The Fates sat outside, under baseball caps and near the end of the top deck. They got splashed, they got heaved, they got amused. The Fates were good sports, in good spirits, and of good age. Their hats lifted, flew, and were caught and returned. The eyes and smiles flashed, chasing the clouds away.

In September, the Fates smile on Nantucket and hold us in the palms of their hands. The young fill the boats, the streets, and the Box. They come with their friends, their dates, and their children. They have a schedule but no structure. The September sky glows, and the air cools, and the Father of the Bride smiles at the white folding chairs. In our September, there never was a cloudy day.

The ferry ride washes the ticking seconds away. Everyone has come back, and everyone is here for this one day. For the couple, in the May of their lives, the future beckons. For the parents, in their November, the past glows. But for the whole party, time steps back and lets this one weekend sit precious and still under the lapis sky. We are all together now. For a moment.

A wedding doesn’t only unify, it also separates. A wedding in September makes its own time, separate from the march from May to December. September removes all of the wedding guests from the ticking billable hours of the week and places them in our glowing timeless Saturday afternoon. The appointments and the classes stay in that Friday light of morning in Hyannis, while the Fates sail across to a weekend without their phones.

Rehearsal dinner comes on Friday, just as we see how well she has grown and how wonderful you look. Then, on Saturday morning, we sit at breakfast with as much water as we can drink, a baseball hat, and a plan for the day. The plan has bikes in it or golf clubs or strollers or stores or cigars or spas before the event. The Fates will walk the bricks in “I’m with the Bride” t-shirts and sunglasses, not sure if they should really get that blouse, even if it is on sale.

In September, the ceremony can happen anywhere. The Fates may witness one on the eighteenth hole, at the beach in ‘Sconset, in the churches, at the hotels, or below the lighthouse. Wherever three people can stand, a voice can be heard, and fifty chairs can be set up, two people will declare that they knew love was here to stay.

We dress up and we pair up and we hope that he won’t get up and walk away in the middle of the ceremony when he gets bored with his Paw Patrol. We remember other ceremonies in other Septembers, when the fog held off and it wasn’t too cold and Momma positively beamed. And we may hold hands at that one moment, and we may go back to that bedroom and think about how lucky we have been, all in all.

Then we dance to music from thirty-five years ago. We Twist and We Shout and We Get a Little Bit Softer Now before we get a Little Bit Louder Now. Someone will request and empty the floor with Uptown Funk until the Dancing Queen brings us all back. Then, in a moment, after a Rebel Yell, we Moondance until it’s time to Shut Up and Dance. The Fates dance only with each other, they shimmy, they frug, and they bump. But they never do the Chicken Dance. Never.

After the lights come up, we go to the Box and we dance more, drink more, laugh more until it’s one o’clock and there is nowhere else to go other than the beach or the bed, and we remember when we knew love was here to stay.

On Sunday, the Fates wake to a ferry horn. The tides will pull us apart and sweep us to different states and countries. We drink coffee and we promise and we take pictures and we fold the t-shirts up before we say our goodbyes and sail back into our calendars and our phones. The Fates dawdle with their bloodies in that timeless Sunday September bubble before heading back to Brooklyn.

Cool and golden, September remains a fixed point in time. Framed and under glass, we see that the cousins came from California and Henry was so small and Homer looked so cute in his little suit and we didn’t know Ginny was sick then, although Momma said she knew. We still have that dress and we ruined our shoes and we loved those hydrangea outside the chapel on that September day when the Fates had pulled us out of our lives and set us out here, out on this sandbar in the perfect weather. And in that eternal moment, I was holding hands with your heart.

December is coming, and then another December, and yet another after that. The ferry will pitch and roll through the weeks and months; we are always broadside to a rising sea. The dancers in the wedding party will step back and rest in the still background. The ring bearer will sing his own songs and the flower girl will stand stout in defense and the bills and the checks will churn will ebb and flow. On some nights, however, we remember dancing in September, when the stars stole the night away.

Articles by Date from 2012