Monday, October 10, 2005

Jogging my memory

I've decided that I'm going to do the Philadelphia Marathon next month. I've done a half-marathon and a mini-triathalon, and after getting a torn ACL back into shape after a lacrosse injury, I want to give a full marathon a shot.

Of course, this inspiration has hit me a little over one month before the race, so I went for an extended run yesterday to kick-start my training. As the miles started adding up, I was looking for any distraction to take my mind off of the growing fatigue. I was running along a path in Fairmount Park, which starts in center city but winds out through a heavily wooded area along the Wissahickon Creek. In the middle of the park is the Valley Green Inn, a restored historic building that now is a pretty decent restaurant. It's also very popular for weddings, and as I approached I could see a bride and groom posing for photos with their wedding party by a scenic spot along the river. There were alot of people out in the park, and a small crowd of runners, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and parents out with their children had gathered nearby and were offering their congratulations.

As I ran by, the scene of random people in the community sharing in the wedding celebration reminded me of my brother's wedding a couple of years ago. My brother is fluent in Spanish and was always in love with the culture, so right after graduation he took a job in Mexico City. He quickly fell in love and it wasn't long before our family headed down for a wedding in the historic town of San Miguel de Allende--which is a couple of hundred years old and now is very popular with the art community. The photo at the top of this entry is the church where they were married.

They incorporated alot of Mexican traditions into the ceremony, but the best one was done on the night before the wedding. My brother hired a mariachi band, and rented a real, live burro with two big casks of sangria strapped across its back. The tradition is for the bride and groom (de novios) to walk through the streets of the town and welcome everyone to join in the procession (of course the offer of free drink is a big draw...)

As I ran further into the woods, the specific memories of that night in Mexico started to come back. I could remember how clear the moon and stars looked overhead as our group walked along the cobblestone streets, the colors on the mariachis' costumes, and the growing spread of color on our own clothes as we spilled purple sangria all over ourselves the longer we tried to walk and drink at the same time.

But mostly I remembered the faces of the people as they came out to their doors and windows as our procession passed by. Some joined in, and others just leaned out over their balconies and said something in Spanish wishing the bride and groom good luck. But you could tell by their expressions that they were genuinely happy for the couple, and enjoyed being part of the celebration. I remembered thinking that it was a very cool way to experience another culture, and how most weddings in the States are more of a spectacle without any real interaction between the couple getting married and the people around them. So it was kind of nice yesterday to see that same sense of the community sharing in the wedding celebration here in our culture too.

It also reminded me that our family has decided to go down to Mexico City for Christmas this year, since my brother and his wife have a little girl now and it's much more of a production for them to travel up here for the holidays. So I need to get busy and book my flight. Looks like it's going to be tequila and huevos rancheros instead of eggnog and fruit cake this year...