From the gracious welcoming of their guests as they arrived at the venue to the laughter and chit-chat they shared with friends before the ceremony, Shomayseh and Arta brought the intimacy and warmth of a living room wedding to a charming Ontario country club overlooking scenic gardens and sprawling green fields. Love when simple and heartfelt turns extraordinary.
I suppose since today marks one year since I left Haifa and settled in Oklahoma I can’t really say, “I just moved back,” as much as it still feels like it. By now I was sure to have already culled through my catalogue of (literally) hundreds of thousands of images from living abroad for 11 years, created albums for my children to remember where they were born and raised, compiled educational exhibits, and published charming coffee-table books that showcase fascinating places of historical, archeological, and religious significance. A girl can dream, right?
One thing I will do, and start today on this anniversary (because I am that sentimental), is open a section of my blog dedicated to places that I love. The title and starting point are yet to be determined, but in the meantime, I can offer a glimpse of what’s to come: from Turkish mosques to Florentine streets; life-like sculptures and porcelain people. Their stories will come, bit by bit, and by one year from today, the scores of images will have done a little more than collect digital dust. (:
I suppose one thing that many of my friends and family don’t really “get” about me is my U2 concert … habit. Ok, perhaps addiction or obsession by some measure. My fellow concert-goers know the puzzled look followed by “but didn’t you already go to a show?” they get when they tell someone they’re about to hit the road (or airport) for another U2 concert. “Aren’t all the shows the same?” In short, no. Set lists may be repeated, but the experience is unique every time, especially when you go GA (general admission, “floor tickets”).
Some things are the same: there’s the anxiety before arriving at the venue to get your number in the queue and wondering how many people are already ahead of you; the early morning roll call when GAers return from their hotels and tents, line up in order of their numbers and get escorted to the venue gate by U2 security (we love U2 Dave!); the lull of the morning when GAers steal an hour or two of sleep on their yoga mats and blankets. As a mother of two, those two hours of being still under the sun are so relaxing, I might as well be on a Mediterranean beach. Soon lunch rolls around, you’ve made friends with the people around you, reunited with old friends, and are eventually putting your stuff away, taking your last sips of water and preparing yourself for the most stressful and nerve-racking part of the day: entrance into the venue.
The last hour and a half before gates open is the only time I really feel like I am standing in line. No straying off to freshen up or watch the crew set up. The sound checks are done, ticket is in hand, and a flock of butterflies have descended in my stomach.
When the gates finally open, I am amidst a surge of restrained urgency and calm hastiness. Walking, jogging, speed walking, slowing down, speeding up, sprinting, often across the length of an entire football stadium. I get my spot. I sit down. And I feel charged, rattled and relieved.
The show itself is what truly feels different every time. Not only do you see the music that you love so much, you’re completely enveloped by it and all of the energy and fervor the band pours out to its fans. You are a part of the show. No matter what spot you get, it ends up being perfect because inevitably, you make some connection or witness a moment that is unique to your view. Far from it seeming like a movie you’ve seen several times, it feels like you’re on the set of the film, the action and the artistry is happening and you’re right in the middle of it. And with this band, that action is not only happening around you, it’s happening for you.
So as U2 plays its final show of the 360° tour tonight in Moncton, Canada, a tour that spanned two years and, for me, began in July 2009 at the 5th show in Paris and ended at the 5th-to-the-last show in St. Louis (with some shows in between), I look back at my world of U2 360° GA and the amazing people who I’ve met along the way – so many of which I am blessed to call my friends.
See you all at the next tour. Bright and early. (:
As much as I love fields of flowers and nifty urban nooks, my favorite location for family portraits remains the home. Looking back at my childhood, I would love to have photos of the green door I would rush through after school to kick off my shoes only to run through it again to meet my neighbor Shay for an afternoon of chatting on the brick wall across the street, or the tall cypress trees behind our backyard fence that I never saw anywhere else in Oklahoma but later became fixtures in the landscape around my homes in Tuscany and Haifa, or even the design of the wrought-iron arch framing the entrance to our formal living room that I remember finally being able to reach, and eventually swing from (much to my mom’s dismay). The things we touch daily and gaze upon over our morning bowls of cereal (or hot tea, feta cheese and lavash bread as it often was) as kids remain as much a part of our childhood as our first-grade teacher and favorite blanket. For Nadia, Omeed, Iman, Jamilah and Jaydan, there are Nadia’s bright orange lilies that burst open for only two weeks of the year, the short stone wall that Omeed built himself for the backyard that Jaydan intuitively knows not to step off from (though we all freeze and hear our hearts pound in our ears when he gets close to the edge), the kitchen table two-seater bench which Jamilah and Iman can share with a third friend and still have plenty of wiggle room, and the front door where you often find them inviting in neighbors, family, friends, and friends of friends, to a space they feel welcomed and cherished. These characteristics make this home as beautiful, strong, vibrant and loving as the amazing family that lives in it.