78 Hours in Minnesota: The Pros

My whirlwind of a weekend home is over and I already miss it. I mean, I don’t miss the utter exhaustion, my inability to tell which day of the week it was, or the distance from my husband (not the largest ocean, but a pretty big one none-the-less)…but on a whole, it was a pretty magical trip.

I’ve never traveled so far (24 hours there, 21 hours back) to be somewhere for such a short amount of time. So I guess I should explain why…

The real why goes back to July 3, 2016. My wedding day. And there, standing next to me (on the opposite side of my soon-to-be husband) was Nora. A woman who wrote out my invitations, shared a room with my sister and other bridesmaid, Erica (both strangers to her), and has been a source of comfort and conversation since we met in the early days of university.

She was my witness on our marriage license.

And on October 1, 2017, it was her turn to get married. Now, living halfway around the world, I couldn’t write out her invitations (and let’s be honest – she has better handwriting anyway), I couldn’t dye or tie her lovely keychains to mark the seating chart, and I couldn’t be with her to try on various wedding dresses (which she had done with me).

All I could do was be there. So I did.

And despite the travel hours logged, I am so happy that I did. Fun fact: I did not cry at my own wedding – I was not going to waste that professionally applied make-up! But I sobbed like a baby at Nora’s, my heart bursting with joy.

I finally got to meet Sumit, her now husband – the ocean between us preventing that from previously happening. And I got to steal small moments with her when she wasn’t taking a million photographs, greeting everyone that came to her wedding, and spending time with the man she will now be spending the rest of her life with.

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If that was all I got from my weekend home, it would have been enough.

But I got more.

After a three-hour delay in Amsterdam, turning my nine-hour flight into twelve hours, I finally got to see my parents and sister. Excepting my sister, they don’t get out much and so I hadn’t seen them in over a year. We immediately got into the swing of things: My father shouting at traffic, my sister getting exasperated by my mother, and me trying to Skype a medical appointment from the backseat. So little time.

I got to have dinner with the three of them, plus my grandparents and my first meal back in the states was a burrito (Chandler has trained me well). It was delicious, even if it was from the freezer section of Trader Joes.

The next day I got to visit with even more family as my grandparents opened up their home to anyone who could claim relation to me : ) A feast was laid before us and we spent the next six hours eating and catching up. Our time together was way too short, but I got all the most important updates: deaths, divorces, and new dogs. My family is a country song.

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Can I have my Sunday back: Why not everyone wants to attend baby showers

Ok, so I’m still on my All the Single Ladies kick from my last blog post. There was a chapter that I only vaguely connected to, in which an interviewee bemoaned that her 30s were spent attending weddings and baby showers and she didn’t understand why she had to shell out so much money for things that were never going to happen to her.

Well, at the age of 27, that doesn’t so much apply to me. The majority of my friends are unmarried and even fewer of them have children. Plus, living internationally, I’m not really expected to attend weddings, let alone baby showers.

And yet, having never attended a baby shower in the states, I’ve now attended two (to four) since arriving in Ghana. I say two to four because two were official “decorations, food, gift giving, and games” occasions, while the other two happened at school as mini-celebrations.

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I have to admit, the two big celebrations left me uncomfortable and confused. And I’ve decided: Single women and married women without an interest in children shouldn’t have to attend these events. Why is it that men are given a free pass? Because society assumes this doesn’t apply to them? Well guess what? They are 50% of the equation. I’m the real person this doesn’t apply to.

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We got hitched!

Ok, so it’s probably a little weird that my first blog from Ghana is about an event that happened four weeks ago in the U.S. But between the wedding, our post wedding excursion (ok, mini-moon), saying goodbye to family & friends, and packing up our lives for the second time this summer…there just wasn’t time to look through photos and write a blog post!

And I have to admit, I’m a little surprised this is happening even now. We start school in three days and I meet all of the second graders new to the school tomorrow. But if you don’t make time now, then when?

So, this is mostly a picture blog. For anyone wanting to see how the pictures turned out or to relive the day (all right, I’m probably the only one who does that! Haha), or for those who couldn’t make it…you know who you are : )

First, we got ready at the house, which was a historic home in St. Paul, so of course we took some photos there…

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But then the ladies got bored and we figured it was time to include everyone…

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Not quite a traditional Ethiopian wedding(s)

I have something new to cross of my list of unusual things most people won’t experience: attend two wedding ceremonies for the same couple. But this is Peace Corps, and if something’s not unusual, it’s probably not worth doing. That’s a motto I’ve developed here and it probably explains why most PCVs return a little odd, if we return at all : )

But back to the weddings…Fiorina was one of the first people I met when I moved to Hawassa six months ago. And over the months, we talked a lot about this wedding! She married Rich, an RPCV who had been stationed in Hawassa the previous three years, but had returned to America a few weeks before I arrived.

They are such a beautiful couple and I loved sharing their special days with them. The first ceremony took place in Debre Zeit, just south of Addis on one of the lakes. It was so serene and the couple couldn’t have looked happier.

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Despite a two-hour delay (this is Ethiopia, after all), the couple still managed to tie the knot : )

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And then it was off to the reception! I just need to include this next picture to prove that despite being Peace Corps Volunteers, we still clean up pretty well!

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We were able to stick around for dinner and a couple religious dances, but then had to head back to Hawassa before it got too late. But not before snatching a quick photo with the bride after an outfit change.

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Three days later and it was time for the festivities to continue. This time we stayed in Hawassa, and if it’s possible, even more people attended. The couple certainly turned heads with their colourful ensembles.

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