This past weekend, I flew to Cleveland for a ripe 30 hours to witness the wonders of the city and my friend Jillian’s wedding.
The story of how I met Jillian is actually quite sweet.
After moving to New York, I started following her writing in Glamour and one night at 2am, reached out for any advice she might have. Honestly I wrote, “ANY WRITING ADVICE SEND THIS WAY!” In her reply she mentioned she was also moving to NYC and we should get a drink. I remember being so nervous, “Get coffee with me?! I sleep within two feet of a liter box and still get lost in the Google building!” But get wine we did in the bar underneath Chelsea Market and from there, our friendship became more than just writing. It grew into musicals and cheese plates, gossip sessions in West Village wine bars and “Game of Thrones” nights with her fiancé. She’s someone who has so positively influenced my New York experience so to be among the 45 people invited to her wedding felt like the good kind of heartburn.
There was a lot I took away from this trip. In the days before arrival, I did what any adult would do and avoided planning anything. I arrived with one desire: Eat Jack Flaps pancakes. And they let me tell you, they were everything I wanted and more. Everyone must try them. I bought a shirt, that’s how much I loved them.
The rest of my 24 hour adventure was a series of recommendations. I meandered through Lakeview Cemetery (obviously what anyone does before a wedding), absorbed the good vibes of Lake Eerie, journaled in a delicious pastry shop in Little Italy, visited the Cleveland Museum of Art, walked through Downtown Cleveland to enjoy sushi and cookies in the Warehouse District and finished my Steven King memoir. Without a solid game plan, I felt free to let my curiosity run wild and take be off the beaten path for moments of quiet wonder and reflection. This trip inspired me to balance trips alone with trips with friends. But mostly, it reminded me to embrace New York Sundays like I’m on vacation, roaming the city for new spaces and places to love.
^^ Thank you Elissa for your photo and the dance party. ^^
And then there was the wedding. It was perfect and Jillian was radiating love all over the place. I was really nervous going in because the only people I knew at this event were Jillian and Andrew and you know, they were a bit preoccupied. So I put on my new favorite heels, threw on my lipsticks, called my mum for a pep talk and sweated the entire car ride there. This is this piece of advice that got me through:
The first 15 minutes will be awkward.
You’ll have to make the small talk, there will be awkward silences, you will want to hike up your dress and run out of the room. But if you stay past those 900 seconds, it gets better. Among a sea of strangers, I chatted, introduced myself around the table and by the end of the night, enjoyed a good dance circle with a really nice group of ladies I’d met. I know I was lucky to receive this kind of welcome, and for me, this wedding felt like a personal triumph comparable to climbing a mountain I didn’t think I’d ever see the top of.
On the drive back to the hotel, I felt so overwhelmed with the huge changes I was witnessing in my friends’ lives. For Jillian and Andrew, I was reminded that love is both big gestures and daily acts of kindness. They so genuinely want to be around each other, support each other, and take joy in the little mannerisms or jokes of the other person. It gave my romantic side a swift nudge after dating in New York City made it crawl into a cave away from the world. But it isn’t only the Glazers whose lives are changing.
This week a dear friend also had his first baby and she’s perfect, Maria is finishing her final semester at Columbia, Imali is taking the GRE, Amy is in med school, Joe has made a thriving life in South Korea, Howard is flying planes, JJ is building an app, and Churro is inspiring me with his daily happiness. I’m surrounded by great people doing great things both big and small.
Cleveland, thank you for being such a wonderful plus one. I’ve told everyone I know how wonderful you were and next time, we will be trying the place with 200 different kinds of hot dogs.