Staffer Stefan and his partner Kayla had a small, simple, beautiful wedding in St. Paul on Sunday. This life sacrament is sentimental for me anyway, and watching their ceremony……I started to reminisce. We certainly do love this honorable young man.
In 2005 I met him at Papa Charlies for an interview while Sheby had ski practice. He was overqualified: they all are. He was so fun to talk to–I found myself, driving away, hoping that he would chose us.
Andy has always been a little more practical about these decisions. He asked if I thought he would be a good worker. I said, he went to St. Olaf. He asked if Stefan might be able to drive the tow boat. I said, he sang in the Ole Choir. THE St. Olaf Choir. Unless you’ve been there, you might not know what that means. He asked if I thought he was responsible. I said he was a physics major. Andy was getting a little exasperated. (we later agreed, that we should have a uniform set of questions, but at the time–well, I was just winging it). Would he like it in the woods? Well, he’s been working on an organic farm. Finally he asked WHAT did we talk about in the interview??? And I said….um….I think mostly whether Calculus was invented or discovered.
How does one interview somebody who is going to join the family? How would I know, meeting Stefan for the first time, that he’s going to have such an impact on our family, teach the kids piano and guitar? Provide memories of lying on the dock in the starry dark while he tells stories of the constellations? That he would be so committed, drive boats through storms, pack food into the middle of the night for us. How could I know that we were going to fall in love with him like he’s our own kid? Well, that’s how it worked. And this is why I felt a wash of nostalgia as we witnessed him taking his vows with Kayla.
I sent wishes for every sort of blessing toward them, and this life they’re beginning. And I thought–well, they certainly found compatibility as Kayla spoke fluent German during the toasts. We’ve met her a few times, she seems very kind. There were lots of little kids at the event, and she was really good to them. It’s enough of an interview for me: I’d hire her.
After the ceremony we stood with Shelby and Dan by the fancy cheese table–if you know Stefan, you know that the food and the organic soda and unique beer would be very deliberately chosen—and apparently Kayla feels that way too, because the free range organic turkey was locally raised. Local? We were 5 minutes from downtown St. Paul. Still—those caterers were very sincere and sustainable, so I believe them.
As we stood on the outskirts of the reception Shelby said “I don’t know ONE person here, can we go?” And I said–Oh, no. This is what weddings are like, most people don’t know most people. But somehow, when you’re all connected to the bride or groom, eventually you find people that have connections. So don’t worry about it, first we just have fun with us. And actually, we did. And then we met really cool people, young families, and it made me feel nostalgic all over again. First time parents with their babies. Many of them went to St. Olaf too, it seemed like everybody knew Shelby and Daniel’s running coach, April. And during the dinner, I got to walk a sleepy 4 month old while his parents quickly ate. I put my cheek on his perfectly round head and remembered the smell of my own little boy’s clean baby hair. And for a minute, when my own little boy held him, I checked the space around my heart and felt all warm and toasty with gratitude. For the cycle of life, for good kids, for good friends—for the opportunities we have to know solid people.