Nantucket Weddings
Nantucket Essays

The Eternal Circle

by Robert P. Barsanti

Nantucket WeddingsThirty-five weddings went off this weekend.  Thirty-five brides in big white dresses, thirty-five nervous grooms.  Thirty-five wedding parties heading off to town, then to the Box, and then finally to a boat.  All of those friends and family, along with their Greek brothers and sisters, sitting on a rocking high speed ferry with their water cups and sun glasses, shipping off to Monday.

June can be difficult for the nuptial shenanigans.  You are as likely to have your cocktails and “pass arounds” on the lawn or in the cold interior of the “Where-o-where” house.  In June, you are as likely to be wearing polar fleece as lace.  But, somehow, not this weekend.  The sky gleamed, the water sparkled, and the air was as crisp as gin.  The photographers saw another set of pictures for the website.

The businesses did well.  Wedding parties need more supplies than an army, and they can be as demanding.  The roses need to be pink, not red.  How much butter do you use in your buttercream?  Why isn’t the bartender wearing a tie?  But it’s all to the good.  By the time the invoices clear, everyone has bubbly memories and misty photographs.

Nantucket has adapted to the running of the brides.  At one price level, the golf and the yacht clubs stand ready with polished dance floors and enough chairs.  At another level, Brant Point Light sits poised and reliable on its rocks.  In June, the brides line up to stand on the walkway, wait for the photographer, then look out to sea.

I stood at Brant Point this last weekend and watched another couple hold hands and blink into the summer sun.  The boats passed behind them. The passengers on the Endeavor waved, as did those on the top deck of the Eagle.   The bride giggled.

On this particular clear June afternoon, the line of the horizon cut across the water several miles out.  Sailboats crossed in front of it, as did the sport-fishermen.  The Eagle waddled it’s way northward to a still unseen port.  To the East, along a line of sand, Great Point Light stood on the horizon line.

When I was young, the horizon taunted me.  Beyond it were smarter people, better parties, and cooler music—Venice was just over the horizon.  Then, when you leap-frogged the line and landed in Venice, there was another horizon, just beyond the Piazza San Marco.  You stood atop one of the grand buildings and spotted the same straight, jeering line on the Venetian lagoon.  There was a better party over that one, with still sharper and happier people. And so on.

Age reveals the truth of the matter; you can see the world from where you stand, whether you are standing on the rocks at Brant Point or on the Rialto.  The ring is not only a circle that rises and falls, it is also our horizon.  They edge of our world.  They circle our lives, no matter where we are or how far we travel.  The horizon lies before us always, until, on one sunny day, we are beyond it.

Thirty-five weddings this weekend and the good and busy Reverend Ted Anderson did not celebrate one of them.  For dozens of years, he brought couples together; you can’t throw a scallop wrapped in bacon without hitting someone he hitched.  Today, he has retired to his potatoes and his chickens and no longer stands with his rainbow shawl, his grizzled beard, and his wedding rasp.  Too many wedding were celebrated in high wind and high spirits, and his mellow tone had become a whiskey tenor.   Still, the voices of the past swirl about us and his seagull laugh echoes.  His patter about the ring remains fresh.

Ted would hold one of the rings high and let the light glint from it.  The ring, he would say, is a circle.  And the circle, is eternal.  Whatever happens from this point forward, happens inside this circle.  He would say that the circle is perfect, it rises and it falls, just as life rises and falls.  He is right, of course.  The ring is as infinite as love is.

Our practical world, with its electrical bills and transmission rebuilds, is stuck in the center of that ring.  The joy of marriage comes when those two rings slip over each other and two people share their horizons, with its invoices, its Christmas mornings, and its hospital visits.  To be married is to share it all, lottery wins and broken crowns.  You are inside that ring, everything good, bad, or smelly is no longer yours and mine, but ours.   That little finger-width of space is your everywhere. Should you move to Vermont, Wyoming, Argentina, or even Dallas, you will still share that ring, you will still live inside that horizon, you will still be each other’s everywhere.

Monday morning comes every week.  For those thirty-five newlyweds, Monday comes with a hanging dress, a hangover, and two bands.  It comes in the fog, and in the rain, and in the rare bright sunlight of a June morning.  The tide of notes and phone calls, e-mail, and bills rushes back into the harbors of each life on Monday morning.  But they are our lives now; we stand together, on a sandy point, sealed with a promise and a kiss.