I don’t really have regrets, but I wish I’d seen more of the world. I can’t complain, life has been good to me, but there are so many places I wish to go, so many things that I wish to see. So when my cousin invited me to his wedding in Mexico, how could I say no?
Well, initially I did. I had a little money in the bank that I had been looking to save for a rainy day. Thing is, I’m a spender, not a saver. Always have been. I’m by no means extravagant in my spending but money for me is a means to an end, and that end tends to be good food, good books and good times. And probably too much Red Bull. I’ve even used a bit of money to smarten myself up in the last few years.
I’m tired of rainy days, both in the literal sense of living in the North of England, and in the metaphorical sense of, well, of what I’ve spent the last two years writing about! So here I am, in beautiful Tulum, Mexico. Making memories with my U.S. family, celebrating the marriage of my cousin Wes, to Ashley.Upon my arrival, as I departed the airport at Cancun with warnings from back home of Mexico’s crime rate still ringing in my ears, it was a little disconcerting to enter a taxi whose radio station made me feel that I was in a Grand Theft Auto game. Fortunately, the similarities ended there.
And so, looking smart in my ‘beach formal’ attire – not the easiest thing to buy in Middlesbrough in January – to the wedding. The happiest day of Wes and Ashley’s lives, and one that will live long in the memories of those of us in attendance (or at least for those of us that somehow managed to retain our memories, despite the free cocktails that kept us suitably lubricated throughout the celebrations).What can I say about Wes and Ash? They’re a cool couple. James Wesley Taylor (James to friends, Wes to family) is my American cousin, son of my mam’s sister. From being a kid, having family in the US always seemed pretty cool, especially when it came to Christmas and the exciting presents that we would be sent. Over the years I’ve developed a relationship with my cousin around each of our visits across the Atlantic, a relationship based in part around a shared love of music.
I said he and Ash are cool right? Well, they work at First Avenue in Minneapolis, one of the world’s most famous live music venues, immortalised by the much missed icon, Prince, in the live performances from Purple Rain. Yeah, pretty cool. And whenever I see photos of Wes and Ash together they always remind me of stills from a lo-fi, U.S. indie film.
Having thusly set the scene, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that this wedding had the coolest music of any wedding I’ve ever been to. Okay, wedding music has a really low benchmark, so here’s what I’m talking about: a Radiohead album track (Weird Fishes/Arpeggi) and Janet Jacskon’s Rhythm Nation, before the bride had even made her appearance. Hell yeah.
And the food. Oh yes, the food. We were informed that the meal was to be a buffet. It wasn’t. I didn’t see one sausage with a piece of cheese on a cocktail stick. Not. A. Single. One. No pork pies, no Ross’s pickled onions, no cheesy Wotsits. But it’s no good missing what you don’t have, the way to be happy is to appreciate what you do have. And I had tentacles. Great, big, chewy tentacles, along with plenty of other spicy deliciousness. All washed down with free cocktail, after free cocktail, after free cocktail. The meal alone was worth the 10 hour trip across the Atlantic.But that wasn’t why I crossed the Atlantic. I came to Mexico to share a very special day with my family, my cousin’s special day. And I don’t mind admitting that at times during the ceremony I had a lump in my throat, after all, the time for worrying about whether my writing will lead to me being seen as a right soft knacker has loooong since passed.
Weddings are naturally occasions on which we will reflect on our own closest relationships, on the loves that we have found and, for some of us, have lost. When I was seeing my counsellor last year, she told me that all any of us need is one person that really sees us. That’s one person among billions to whom we are not disposable, someone to whom we are all they ever wanted, someone that will be there for us no matter what, and who will never let us go.Many times during the last few years my life has felt poorer for not having that person in my life. And on the handful of occasions that I have thought that maybe I might, just might, have found her, I have swiftly been disabused of any such notion.
Sitting here now, I don’t feel that my life is any the poorer. Because seeing how Wes & Ashley looked at each other, hearing them speak the vows that each of them had written, showed me that what I hope to find one day is out there, and that I have the opportunity to find it. And when the promised destination is forever – and that’s a mighty long time (see what I did there?) – then that’s got to be worth waiting for.
As the night drew to a close I went for a walk on the beach, alone. I sat on the hull of an overturned boat with the sand beneath my feet, a cool breeze brushing my skin, and I listened to the waves crashing across the shore. In those solitary moments I felt as happy as I have for a long, long time.As Wes and Ash wake for the first time as husband and wife, forever begins today.
It always does.
Purple Rain – Prince