The dogs and I packed off to Phoenix to celebrate a wedding. We arrived the day before invited to the rehearsal dinner. I’m parked in the LT with Olympia and Mason, after first checking into another La Quinta since they graciously accept dogs and are not too expensive, cleaning up a little wondering how I’ll fit in when the groom himself gently knocks on the van inviting me to hurry in and join the party. I remember the bride from schooldays, Girl Scouts and having crushes on the Monkees. We’d been out of touch a long time, she says, with a nod, it’s been 20 years—the allowed give away—but it’s been a lot longer than that. I’m greeted and introduced so very warmly, really I was charmed. Lindsey’s mother immediately recognizes me and is delighted. So am I.  Her sister remembers me too! Family, I am to learn, and special friends, are very important to this couple.

The time of Lindsey & Bruce’s ceremony is 11-11-11 at 11 a.m. All those ones add up to a couple intent living life as “we.” It’s a very happy day: a perfect ceremony, the church parking lot is spotted with corvettes (these great cars are a big part of this couple’s life.) Then we head to the Embassy Suites, Scottsdale for a lunch party reception where the couple sports a tango until the bride’s shoes give out; someone gives her a rose to hold in her teeth. Each table has its own racing inspired cake as center celebration of love and those beautiful cars, there are white roses and bouquets, it is simple and beautiful. We make a circle on the dance floor, all of us, arms around our neighbor we sing while kicking up our feet, ‘Cause I’ve got friends in low places where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away, but I’ll be okay. Now I’m not big on social graces. Think I’ll slip on down to the oasis, oh, I’ve got friends, in low places. . .

This wedding is fun. We eat, drink and appreciate. As the guest leave I take a break walking the dogs across the road to the Biltmore Fashion Park… one bookstore welcomes dogs and people make a fuss over them. Later the wedding party crowds into the couples 5th floor suite above the golf course for snacks, drinks and camaraderie. Bruce pulls out the champagne, gives us all a glass, corks flying out the window. Then dinner downstairs in a private room and an invitation to finish with more cake and champagne. For the first time in a long time I feel belonging, compassion, warmth . . . talking with the moms and another high school friend I hadn’t remembered . . . making new friends that will last. I am the only Democrat in the inner group and certainly the only one crazy enough to bring her dogs to a wedding but the pups are welcome. Different guests come with me to play with the dogs parked in LT outside in the shade on that nice cool day. I find I am happy, even given that a long-time love of mine is marrying his sweetheart on this same day and that Jolyon is far off in Las Vegas at his son’s marriage and that my brother has recently married a woman who scorns family and keeps us apart… it all floats with an outpouring of wisdom that I’ve discovered here in Phoenix. I also discovered how much I enjoy being a part of things.

I accepted Lindsey’s invitation to stay in their home. It is much nicer than the La Quinta. I might have stayed longer but both my dogs became increasingly agitated by one of their birds, a keen African Gray (sorry I forget your name) with a repertoire of wine cork popping sounds, dog barking, whistling and a stunningly loud (and scary) bang. Yes, my dogs were afraid of a bird. Mason, would crowd the door attempting to run to his safe LT. The day before I left I had to carry him into the house. He’d frozen on the lawn and would not budge after a day out sightseeing. Even Sam, the elderly Corgi mystified Mason. Mase would bark away at Sam refusing to make friends, I could see his disbelief in the ravages of old age. Olympia on the other hand showed none of her typical jealousy, instead she she’d toss her tennis ball to Sam who, of course, did not respond, but she kept trying. As it was both dogs insisted on being in my lap or never more than ½ inch from my feet. I tried lifting the dogs up so they could see that it was a friendly bird causing the noise, nothing to worry about. Very cool birds in the house. The African Gray gave the dogs a piercing curious stare that only furthered my dogs suspicious. Ultimately I missed Lindsey and Bruce (off on their honeymoon) and the gaiety of family and friends. As well, every time I went out thinking the nice cool would hold so I could explore a museum the sun would appear heating the van fiercely…too hot for the dogs, so it was time to go.

I did agree though, the dogs and I need a Corvette! And friends and family to sing with. I will be back to visit.

The LT seems to purr these days. The wind barley bothers me. I have to fight to keep her speed down; she swallows gasoline like crystal wine. I’d intended to extend my travels to Flagstaff or maybe Tucson but wound up heading back to Santa Barbara only stopping for an hour or so in Quartzsite. January seems the time for Quartzsite. I was tired. It was a good trip. I missed checking on my storage and seeing folks in Cathedral City…  so another trip will be soon….hope to hear from all the happy new married couples as well.