Synchronized Swimming With a Team of One and a Wedding

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Susan Dromey Heeter photo

I loved your wedding but never got your names outside Newburyport City Hall.


When I  visit my friend, Anne in Newbury, Massachusetts, I like to keep things simple: no great fanfare, no complicated plans, no agenda that requires reservations or a parking slip.  And today I muse joyfully on a day of simplicity, on my favorite wedding ever, on popcorn, on synchronized swimming with a team of one.

First things first, I like to arrive with a bag of freshly popped popcorn. I use my trademark Market Basket bag, when I present  it to Anne, it’s still warm.  My recipe is simple: white popcorn, vegetable oil, fine sea salt. That’s it. And Anne delights in her “gift” – knowing there is no container to wash out, to return, to wonder when we’ll meet up for that special piece of tupperware or pyrex that will practically live in her kitchen until it’s becomes so long, it’s just time to throw it out.  A paper bag is the epitome of simple.

During our visit, we walked into Newburyport, bought some coffee and scones and muffins and ate outside on a bench underneath a beautiful canopy of trees. We watched a group of children play, they looked to be from a daycare, each wearing little blue vests so they could reflect their group.  They looked like little workers with their uniforms, their utilitarian vests – and, indeed, play is their work, and they were performing their tasks of laughing, running around, chasing each other.   It was all so simple: shade, coffee, entertainment, a beautiful August day.

Susan Dromey Heeter takes a dip.

And as we sat on our bench, three people emerged from Newburyport’s City Hall, the young woman was wearing a white dress and carrying flowers. We asked, “Is this a wedding?” and learned the couple, indeed, was getting married right in front of our little bench. And Anne and I were tickled, delighted and asked if we could stay and witness the matrimony.  We were invited and Anne suggested we record this special moment.  The gentleman handed me his phone, and, just like that, I was the videographer.  The ceremony took less than three minutes, the couple pronounced married by the justice of the peace.  

It was the best wedding I’d ever been to: less than three minutes, no need to bring a gift, simple vows, no chicken dance. 

The couple wanted to get married on 6 August as next year they will have a big family event. They simply wanted the legality there, the formal part out of the way. They kept it simple, beautiful. The bride wore a casual white dress, she carried fresh flowers, the groom wore a blue suit jacket.  And Anne and I delighted in the moment: basking in the glory of a wedding coming to us on an August day, in a small square in Newburyport where we chatted, drank coffee, ate scones and muffins.  

Life can be wonderful.

Finally, as we walked back to Anne’s house in Newbury, we stopped so I could swim by the boat launch, near the bay. Summers, for me, mean never getting out of my bathing suit, so I might jump in the ocean, a lake, a pond while the air is warm. No towel necessary, no need for anything but water. 

And as the water felt so lovely, the air so light, I performed my synchronized swimming routine- a leg in the air, a splash, a tribute to the olympics. Perfect. I thank my coaches, my health, my special August day.

And I muse joyfully you’ll have a day of unexpected joy, of swimming, of popcorn, of witnessing a young couple so in love they decide to get married.  I muse joyfully you’ll look around, taste lovely scones and muffins beneath a canopy of trees, laugh with a friend.  And if you’re playing in your blue vest, play on, my friend, play on.

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