I stand on the busy streets of this splendid city, beautiful buildings of ancient design, grand halls and theaters with a European flare. Bustling open air markets full of spices and delectable bites. We were there for a wedding, the colors were champaign and deep purple. The bouquets arranged with orange flowers and greenery. The ceremony was to be held in a massive theater for the Arts ,Michelangelo painted here.Design laid in to even the most minute of features, there wasn’t anywhere you could look that didn’t captivate your attention.
The couple to be married were royalty, the wedding party was a total of 14 people including the bride and groom. It was customary for the guests to be in attendance for the pictures. So there we were, all of us sitting in theater seats, silently watching and waiting for the pictures to be done.
I sit there observing the photographer ,a stark resemblance to Lisa Kudrow, It was apparent that she didn’t seem to know what she was doing. I thought to myself “I could help her, these things I would have figured out in advance, especially for such a prominent wedding” But as it was made crystal clear earlier I was “just a guest”, I was “no one important”, “just the wife” of one of the groomsmen. It was odd that I was singled out and made to wait with the others while everyone else’s significant others were behind the scenes, I didn’t think much of it though since I was seated with one of our closest friends. If he was out here with me then there must be a reason.
As we sat there we were scolded by the surrounding guests who apparently held the occasion at a much higher regard than us. We kept giggling and whispering and not giving the moment the respect it deserved. At the threat of being thrown out we remained silent so as not to cause disgrace to the bride and groom. I slouch in my chair, eyes wide, this is so boring! watching the photographer run back and forth, changing positions of the wedding party, smiling here and there, they didn’t even look like they were having fun. I kept falling asleep resting my head on our good friends shoulder. Suddenly a sharp pain jolts me awake as I am elbowed in the side by another guest whom I do not know. I felt as though I were 5 years old again being pinched by my mother to sit up and pay attention.
Finally it was the group family and close friends photo, I was included now, only for the fact that I had a legal document binding me as part of the family. So there I was in the very back, one of the shortest people in the crowd blocked by everyone else as if I didn’t exist.The first picture taken I was clearly visible but the photographer was at the very back of the theater and I knew she certainly didn’t bring a lens long enough to capture everyones faces from that distance. The next photo she was close enough but this time more people were added and I disappeared.
After that we headed back to our seats to wait and be silent again. Will this day ever.. just then we heard an unusually loud noise, the sound of jet engines on a tarmac… I knew the airport was close by but that was too loud. I looked at our friend and he thought the same but chalked it up to coincidence. Then we felt a small shake.. earthquake? we whisper to each other.. no one else seemed to pay attention. Then came the explosion, a bomb several blocks over. It shook the city and chaos ensued but that did’t stop the wedding.
Now through the events of the day I noticed a friend constantly running out and coming back with white boxes.I saw her take her leave yet again, so I chase after her to see what she is doing. Pastries she says slightly out of breath, his royal-ness can’t get enough of these pastries from the market. 4 dozen we’ve gone through already, its all he wants to eat. I asked if I could go with her, an excuse to get me out of the waiting and into the action. I need to see what has happened in the city.
As we walk, we pass articulate architecture, beautiful bridges and towers. You can hear the sirens in the distance, people running, expressions of wonder and panic across the faces of everyone we encounter. We turn the corner into a neighborhood where instinct makes you want to turn and run. We enter a small corner market, head to the back, and we are welcomed with warm smiles, and kind hearts. We get two dozen pastries, I ask the baker: what is so special about these? she says “its the filling, its a wonderful combination of chocolate, coffee, and cardamom in a flakey/crunchy pastry crust. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever had.” As we walk back to the theater I see that she has eaten at least 3 on the way, I hesitate to try one as these belong to the royals, but I can’t resist and thats when I take my first bite, I have nothing in the real world to compare this pastry to… at all… this was a completely new experience for me and it was delicious.
As we enter the theater we head down an underground hall way made of concrete and enter into the bride and grooms waiting room. Laid out on a large banquet table is a feast fit for a king, we add the pastries and the groom is talking to me as if I have been with them all along.He is excited about the pastries and how many have been added. As I head back to the auditorium my husband comes and says we have to leave, we feel another rumble and run to get changed. I don’t know the reasons why, but I know we have to head for the forest.
We get into our hiking gear with our backpacks and run. As we hike along the upper rim, deep ravines and cliffs follow us, there is a river below It runs a deep green turquoise, it twists and winds its way through the ravine. It’s a dense jungle, the trees and plants flourish here.We have to get down there but our path proves treacherous with no easy way to descend.We see others who have tried, they lay there dead, the jungle taking over their bodies as vines and roots wrap and twist their way around their bones.
We decide to go a bit further before we turn around to find another way when we meet a group of people who have just climbed back up. We inquire as to how they were able to get down, they take us to the path they took and explained how they were successful. We look down, it is steep, there is no way you could ever brace yourself for such a fall. We notice the stone is smooth like a slide so we sit and throw our bags down ahead of us. As we get ready to slide down, emerging from the brush is a giant, scraggily, vicious, black wolf. It jumps in front of me snarling, angry and fierce.
We are face to face, my heart is racing and I am looking straight into its deep dark orange/brown eyes. In this moment of terror, time slows down, the sound of our breath is all I can hear, they are deep, full and slow. I start to see that he is old, grey and white hairs speckle his eyes and nose. Someone has made a muzzle out of a leather strap and tied it around the wolfs head. Its made so the wolf can still drink and scavenge but it can’t open its mouth fully. I am grateful in this moment for that, but anger fills my heart, he is a wild animal. This was a cowardly act of fear and the result is fear. I cannot leave him like this, I would rather risk injury than let him go. I attempt to gain its trust, sitting there eye to eye with the animal knowing it wants to tear my flesh apart. I slowly raise myself higher than him while still maintaining eye contact and as the wolf goes to roll over in submission he slips and slides down the mountain. My heart sinks, he trusted me and he fell. We watch as he slips quickly down the slope and lands in the water. Struggling and flailing we quickly descend and reach in to grab him out, holding him in my arms I turn to set him down. I remove the leather strap and I don’t see a wolf any more I see my long lost dog of 17 years. It was good to see those eyes again. I wasn’t as startled as I should have been in that moment. We continue on, the wolf now part of our pack.We follow the river and help others who have been commissioned to meet us here for the next step of our journey.