Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

An awesome wedding weekend

4th October 2009

Update 10/2 – I was typing up this post during my trip a couple weeks ago to New York.

I am in New York City this weekend for Radu and Clare’s wedding. What an awesome experience!

Saturday traditional Eastern Orthodox wedding

I arrived really early at the Union Theological Seminary not sure of how smoothly public transport would be — but it couldn’t have been any easier with a single bus going directly from the airport to a stop only a block away. I was so early in fact that I wandered around the area and along the Hudson snapping a few pictures of the huge towering cathedral at Columbia University. I met and chatted with Clare’s mom and sister in the courtyard while we waited for other family and guests to arrive. Once we were all assembled inside the entryway just outside the Lampman Chapel, we each took a lighted candle to hold for the duration of the ceremony. Violet was feeling sick so Radu and Clare took turns holding her. The priest began the first part of the ceremony where rings are exchanged praying in Romanian and then in English many blessings and directions for Radu and Clare as they enter into marriage. Then we moved into the chapel for the crowning where both Radu and Clare each received a crown of flowers representing the crown of glory that God bestows on his faithful children.

Starbucks in the heart of Harlem

After the wedding, I called Kristine and she helped navigate me to a Starbucks just past the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Just around the corner from where the wedding was, the atmosphere here is different with a nearly constant stream of people passing by the window from all races, all walks of life. Across 125th street is a series of  street-level shops that form an outdoor mall. The store directly across from me is called Home Boy Jewelry. Some stores  have one or more workers outside handing out pamphlets and chanting slogans for the store. Street vendors have booths set up all along the sidewalk, too. Just down the street is the metro station where I’ll catch the subway down to Chelsea Piers in Midtown, Manhattan for the main event tonight!

Starbucks in Midtown Manhattan

I took the subway from the 125th st station down to the stop closest to Chelsea Pier. On the way I decided to check out the Museum of Natural History on 81st street hoping that it would be free, but the entrance had a long line and a cashier so I assumed it wasn’t free and decided to cross the street to Central Park instead. I wandered over and found a “year-round” marionette puppet theater. I think Analise and Josiah would really like that the next time we visit as a family. After a brief stroll through the park, I returned to the 79th steet entrance to the subway and continued the rest of the way down to 23rd street. As soon as I exited the stairs to 23rd street, what should I see — another Starbucks.  I hadn’t had lunch yet so I dropped in grabbed a bite to eat,  and now I have  two more hours of wireless internet.

Wedding on the Hudson River

We boarded the Mariner III at about 5:30 for a sunset cruise and wedding ceremony. We cruised down the Hudson and drifted to a location right next to Ellis Island with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop for the exchanging of vows – which was a beautiful setting for a beautiful ceremony. After an hour of cocktails and mingling and chatting, we headed back upstairs for a dinner under the dusk and night sky as we cruised on the East River under the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and almost all the way to Queensborough bridge before turning around to head back to the Hudson side. After dinner it was time for some wild dancing including a traditional Romanian circle dance where one person dances in the middle and then selects somebody of the opposite sex to take their place in the middle by looping a rolled pillow suitcase around their neck and pulling them towards the middle. This process repeats until the song ends and just about everybody has made it into the middle. It was a fun end to a very special day. 

Subway adventures and an expensive cab ride

We had left a bit late so we stayed out on the river later than expected. I was hurrying to make it back to the subway and ended up getting into the wrong station. Once I realized my mistake and made it to the correct station two blocks away, it was past midnight and I wasn’t sure if there would still be bus service to Laguardia. So when the next subway train came, and it wasn’t even the one I was looking for – I decided my best bet was to head back to the street and hail a cab. $30 later, I made it back to the hotel at the airport.

No luggage allowed

I walked over to the airport and grabbed the M60 bus to Manhattan, transferred to a subway on Lexington exiting at the 86th street station, walked over to Central Park to take a picture of the Central Park Reservoir, realized that my batteries were dead on my camera, found and purchased 4 double-a batteries at a deli for $6.50.  I headed back to Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and tried to enter but was barred by security saying that I couldn’t bring any large bags into the museum so that neither my backback nor my rollbehind small carryon would be allowed. I explained that I was there for an informal post-wedding gettogether in the roof garden, but they said it didn’t matter and that I would need to find a place for my stuff. I asked one of the guards if he had any suggestions, and he recommended bribing one of the street vendors to watch my luggage. I couldn’t bring myself to risk it since I would have to leave my laptop with them. So I wandered off in search of an electric outlet to plug in my computer and a wireless internet connection but without any success until now.

Back to Laguardia and home

I am about to leave to head back to the airport to catch my flight back home. Kristine has a meeting at church so I’ll be hanging out at the airport in Birmingham until she gets done.

Update – 10/2 – There was an African American pride parade on 125th in Harlem so the buses were running about 30 minutes behind schedule. By the time I made it to the airport, it was only 45 minutes before my plane was supposed to take off. Fortunately, I didn’t have any bags to check so I was able to use the self check-in kiosk and avoid the quite lengthy check-in line at the Delta counter, make it through security a few minutes later, and shortly after that board the plane for home!

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