Archive for Thursday, September 23, 2004

Bits and Pieces

Cross-cultural weddings prove love all you need

September 23, 2004

The song, "Leaving on a Jet Plane" was running through my mind as my daughter and I took off last Thursday for Park City, Utah, to attend the wedding of hometown girl Kristi Durkin and Paco Lacle, who is from Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Having known Kristi since birth and having been her babysitter when she was a little girl, we have a special bond with both Kristi and her parents, Dave and Phillis Durkin.
Without intruding too much on the privacy of the wedding, I would like to mention some memorable things about our trip -- other than the wedding, which was a lovely affair, outdoors in the mountains which surround Park City.
Leaving on Thursday before the Saturday wedding, we had some free time to explore. Taking in the quaint downtown of Park City that evening, we entered into the tourist atmosphere of the area and entertained ourselves by visiting the unique shops and restaurants.
The best, however, was yet to come. The next morning we drove up to Sundance. The city was made famous by Robert Redford, who bought 6,000 acres there more than 20 years ago to save the beauty of the canyon as well as to promote an independent film festival conducted there and in Park City and Salt Lake City each year.
It's hard to describe the beauty of the mountains, which were covered with a canopy of lovely colors as the season changes. Driving up the canyon and riding on the ski lift to view this incredible display of nature, one feels the centering peace that only the quiet beauty of the outdoors can provide.
I must say the ride is well worth the queasy stomach and sweaty palms it created in me as we hung suspended high above the ground.
Not having been on a ski lift before, I felt extremely brave and proud to think I could overcome my fear of heights long enough to drink in this special gift. Had I remained the coward I usually am about heights -- even the Ferris Wheel makes me crazy -- I would have missed this extraordinary scene.
After a lunch of chicken salad sandwiches devoured on a bench hidden in the foliage around the lodge, we found ourselves wondering if the man himself might appear. He did not, but we have been told that he often wanders down to the lodge to create a stir among the tourists and is very approachable. Too bad we didn't get the chance to "approach."
The next day, Beth and Monica Durkin joined us to visit the scene of the 2002 Olympics, which is still used as a training ground for those athletes who participate in the winter Olympics.
Taking the tour of the ski jump, the luge and the bobsled runs, I looked down the mountain from a height equivalent to 50 stories as the guide related anecdotes of those who are brave or crazy enough to ski down the slope that covers the distance of a football field and takes only a few minutes to complete.
We also watched skiers -- some very young -- gliding down the high jump, which is now especially equipped for summer training. Most interesting was the fact that children as young as 7 or 8 train on the jump in an attempt to be among the next wave of athletes who keep the sport alive. In fact the guide related that an 11-year-old boy holds the record for the best jump ever on that slope. What about that, parents?
We also got details of the luge, which, like reality television, confirms my opinion that there are people in this world who will do anything to get attention. That is certainly true of anyone crazy enough to come down a mountain traveling at 80 miles per hour while laying on his back on a sled controlled by his or her feet.
The bobsled was a different story, and I was amazed at how small the sled is which accommodates four husky men. Even my daughter and I had a tight squeeze when we sat in it. Needless to say I have a new appreciation for those who compete in these events.
Before leaving this travelogue, I would like to mention what I thought was an especially memorable moment in the wedding. As we celebrated the union of these two young people, we also celebrated the coming together of people from various countries. There were guests from Amsterdam, Australia and Aruba mixing with those of us from the Midwest, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
I am a person who is often the observer rather than the participant at such events, especially the dancing (although I did get down for a song or two). I thought, what a sign of hope this event is in our world, which is now so fractured and broken.
Once again I realized that what is important to all of us everywhere as human beings is the same: love of family and friends. Although while pride of country is also important, we should never let it interfere with our relationship with others as we greet and celebrate the uniqueness and beauty of all peoples of other nationalities, races and cultures.
The groom's sister commented on the bravery and courage it takes to bridge these differences, and so we congratulate and send our best wishes to Kristi and Paco, who now embark upon a journey of love that will embrace and unite them as well as all of those who were privileged to attend their wedding.

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