This story requires some background. In fact, I'd say this story is probably a good 95% background. This is the kind of story I would submit to my creative writing professor in college and get back with the words YES, AND....???? scrawled after the ending because the denouement was basically me running out of time at library that morning and then pretending that the unsatisfying, abrupt ending was ON PURPOSE, like even the WHOLE POINT, god, nobody GETS ME, it was DEEP and SOCIALLY-COMMENTATING-Y.
Anyway! It is true, I was very misunderstood. Now let's all move on and pretend that this is a vaguely accurate rendering of the great state of Pennsylvania:
Basically, if you picture New Jersey as the head and shoulders of some old dude in profile (AND I BET YOU DO NOW), I grew up tucked directly under his chin. Jason also spent a good chunk of his adolescence in the same area, only in the town where M. Night Shyamalan filmed Signs instead of the my neighborhood's claim to fame, which was the largest used car dealership in the state. Neither of these accomplishments have held up very well in recent years, what with the economy and The Happening.
Point is, we like to think we know our way around that area pretty well.
So when my dear long-time friend Temerity Jane sent us an invitation to her PA-based wedding -- complete with assurances that it was SO OKAY if we didn't feel like making the trek -- I waved off her protests and insisted that it was no big thang at all. I love weddings! And this wedding was like, 30 minutes from our parents' homes, because everything is 30 minutes from our parents' homes. Philly. The neck-hole parts of New Jersey. Malls. Amish people.
I thought the wedding was 30 minutes away because the invitation said: South Abington. Abington! I know Abington! I had friends who lived in Abington. The high school was in Jason's tennis league; they'd played them all the time. 30 or 45 minutes away, tops.
Well, technically the invitation said South Abington Township. But Pennsylvania is literally crawling with random areas that like to declare themselves townships, much like Pennsylvania is not technically a state so much as a commonwealth and I STILL don't understand what that's all about, even after having to take a Pennsylvania history course in high school. And the south part, well, sure. Abington must have a...south...type...part. Right? So we'll give ourselves the full 45 minutes, then.
See. EASY. We just had to go...down and to the left a little.
Oh, ho ho ho. And a ha ha ha.
The day of the wedding started off badly for us. I forgot the invitation on our fridge, thus leaving behind the actual address, thus having to be the complete asshole who sends desperate Twitter DMs to a BRIDE on her WEDDING DAY, mere HOURS before the CEREMONY.
(Jason suggested we just drive to Abington and see if any church or hotel names sounded familiar, because you know, how many weddings could there be?)
Luckily, I managed to get the address before we arrived at Jason's parents house, where we quickly ditched the kids and changed our clothes and hopped back into the car. Abington, ho! We had exactly an hour before the ceremony would begin. We were good. As was my hair, for a brief few seconds in time.
I entered the address into our GPS and...
"Why is this thing saying Abington is 120 miles away?"
"Uh. That's not right."
"Two hours? What the?"
Suddenly, it all became perfectly, horribly clear. Abington and South Abington Township had absolutely nothing to do with each other, besides some really fucking uncreative place-naming at some point.
Now, don't get me wrong. That part of Pennsylvania is absolutely, breathtakingly gorgeous. The views from the mountains roads -- especially this time of year -- are like stepping into every picture-perfect postcard of idealized autumn colors you have ever seen. It's a perfect spot for a wedding or weekend away.
But unfortunately, once you realize that you are suddenly TWO HOURS AWAY from a wedding ceremony that is due to begin in ONE HOUR, and that nothing -- short of rocket-jet-packs or some sort of PA Turnpike Wormhole -- is going to help you make that wedding on time...well, the beautiful fall scenery can go fuck itself, you know?
Particularly if, on your way to the PA Turnpike, you hit every single construction detour or accident along the way. (One major road was closed completely because someone hit a deer, and the only way around the mess involved a ONE-LANE DIRT ROAD.) By the time we hit the seventeenth or fortieth detour because one quaint little town was having a craft fair on the ONLY ACTUAL THROUGH STREET THERE WAS, I was pretty much ready to kill the entire wiggly jagged side of Pennsylvania with my bare hands.
The GPS told us it would be a two-hour drive. It took us two-and-a-half. We did indeed miss the ceremony by a good 50 miles, and by the time we finally arrived 1) my hair looked like total ass, and 2) I was completely and utterly paranoid that we would inadvertently walk into the reception at the PRECISE MOMENT the DJ or whoever was doing the whole, "And now, presenting for the very first time! Mr. and Mrs....wait, who the hell are those assholes?"
We crept in, literally peeking timidly around corners before stepping out, and did successfully manage to join the other guests with a minimum of OH HI WE'RE INSANELY LATE AND DUMB fanfare.
I completely owned up to our dumbassity, though, rather than bullshit my way through conversations like, "The ceremony was beautiful! I especially liked the part where you...uh, walked in! And then said I do!" I understood why our attendance had taken several other guests by surprise, you know, being willing to drive ALL THAT WAY AND STUFF. Because...yeah. Okay. I see what you're saying now.
The reception was awesome and there were all-you-can-eat mashed potatoes with cheese and crumbled bacon toppings. I ate a lot of mashed potatoes and two pieces of cake. I even got Jason out on the dance floor for a slow dance and TJ had ever-so-helpfully stocked the ladies' room with a basket of toiletry essentials, including a package of bobby pins that allowed me to salvage at least a little dignity out of my hair.
And then we got in the car. And drove back. And everybody learned something very important about maps, but nothing about finishing up stories with any sort of actual point.