Just over a week ago the absolutely incredible Karen and Carl got married. I’m not sure if there’s anything better than witnessing two of your best friends getting married. To be part of the festivities, I flew back to the States a little over a week before the wedding. Probably, actually undoubtedly, one of the best weeks of my life. Everything from the bachelor party (and “I Used to Work in Chicago”) to the Greyhound ride back to ND to learning to beatbox (aka saying boots cats minus the vowels) to discovering the glory that is “Call Me Maybe.” It was all so perfect. I realize this blog is supposed to be about Europe, but who doesn’t have time for a little bit of love? Yeah, that’s real corny.
June 2nd, 2012 starts like dream. I wake up to a shirtless Carl (if you’ve ever seen the man’s Herculean body, you’d understand). While eating breakfast, we find out that according to the Star Tribune comics section (which says Sunday, June 3rd, 2012 on the cover), we’ve either traveled forward in time or completely missed the wedding. Seeing as we’re still alive (as in, Karen hasn’t killed us), I assume we haven’t missed the wedding, and that the Hampton Inn just has sick connections with the Star Trib (as well as the space-time continuum). After eating, we do what any former MIAC owning decathlete would do. We round up some good fellows and go lift (in stark contrast to my brother’s wedding where we just ate lots and lots of food). I pretend like I know what I’m doing in the weight room for about an hour until we head to a place that makes a bit more sense to me, Target. We grab some snacks for our time at the church and make our way back to the hotel. Seeing as we lack the necessity to do hair and makeup, I just hang out sin pants for a while until it’s time to shower up. Once that’s all taken care of, the crew assembles in Carl’s room. In the meantime, their sweet photographer, Eli, comes to hang out with us (don’t worry, his wife, and the head of their photography outfit, is with ladies taking all those glamorous “getting ready” shots). His first photograph is, of course, of Carl’s dino socks that he’s rocking under his suit (just another reason why the man’s awesome). Eventually, we make our way over to the Maus ladies’ house where the girls are all getting ready. Carl unfortunately is relegated to standing near the road since he isn’t allowed to see Kare yet. We mingle with all of the fantastic folks there until the bride saunters out. Carl and Karen then stop traffic as they’re doing the “first look.” The passersby can’t seem to get enough (but it may have just been that they were trying to snag a quick glimpse of KP in a dress; that’s rarer than a successful Kardashian marriage). It’s then picture time at the church, so interestingly (and awesomely), we have an outdoor photo-shoot that includes being randomly strewn in a field with long grass and scurrying creatures down below. Then, it’s the waiting game til the wedding actually starts (there should probably be a paragraph break at some point, so I’ll just do that now).
The wedding party and Carl successfully roll on up the aisle (kept the elbow down, walked straight at a leisurely pace thanks to my partner Lindsay’s steady coaching, and refrained from tripping on the steps) and are now awaiting Kare’s entrance. The harp strokes up some beautiful song, and Kare walks in looking absolutely stunning flanked by her mother and father. Knowing myself, I’m armed with a healthy wad of Kleenex, but somehow the waterworks are held in check. The ceremony is beautiful (even little 2 year old Maxwell makes it down the aisle holding his pillow; we’ll gloss over the necessity of leaving successfully). After this, Karen and Carl get hugged upwards of 3000 times (to Karen’s delight) during the receiving line. Once this round of hugs is extinguished, we jump in the RV and make our way to the reception. First though, a few more pictures. We stop at a park where people ogle at the beautiful bride and bridesmaids. This is also the point where Karen is crowned the world’s fastest bride. Between her shiny silver Toms and 5K winning fitness, not a real shocker. Don’t worry though, Carl and Kare didn’t feel the need to prove their athletic prowess by taking a lap around the lake. Eventually, we head to the reception which is being held at the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Gail Maus’ home (that morning I was wondering where Kare and Abbs had hid their triplet all their life). A massive tent is set up in the back decorated with God knows how many fluffy balls we slaved over the week prior. It looks fantastic especially when filled with so many people who mean so much to Kare and Carl. Almost immediately, we start eating (which I am happy about). When it’s dessert time, I can’t stop salivating as I scarf down some delectable Oreo truffles. Speeches then start shortly afterward. Carl’s bro, Luke, tells us a few farm stories where he managed to nearly kill Carl (luckily, he failed), and then Abbey throws down the best Maid of Honor speech EVER. It is so hilarious/touching/perfect. My hat goes off to you Abbs. Then, the dance floor is cleared off and on come Karen and Carl for the first dance. Steve Moakler croons as they sway back and forth. So wonderful. Next comes the parents. I have to admit, Dan and Anne (Carl’s parents) really surprise me with their ability to cut loose on the dance floor. Then comes the wedding party, and oh do we rock out to “Bust a Move.” There are moves being busted out left and right. And this is only the start to the epic five hour dance party that’s about to ensue. So sick.
Some of my personal reception dance highlights: my dad trying to talk his way out of getting on the dance floor until the bride comes over and asks for/commands a dance (great play Kare). Dan dancing on Mike’s shoulders as he sails through the dance floor five feet above everybody else (and Carl’s face as he attempts to be a spotter in case something goes amiss; luckily, Mike’s solid as a rock so danger is averted). Snatching the garter from underneath Lowell’s outstretched hand with some slick footwork (speaking of the Engles; is there a family that can dance better? Samaraweeras excluded, of course). Kare and Abbs’ little cousin being a stud and throwing out break dancing moves. Johnny, Lee, and Brett encircling Kare during the dollar dance and doing some kind of fairy hop around her (a well spent three dollars). The always calm and collected Jeff Jeremiason dancing up a storm and needing to be physically dragged off the dance floor by Maria to get home to the children. And so many more, but I’m starting to realize this write-up is getting a bit out of hand.
After many a goodbye, we make our way back to the hotel to spend the night. Sadly for me, night means very little seeing as I need to leave for the airport at 5am… oh well, never done anything more worth it in my life.
And to think, that was my attempt at a short recap of the wedding day. Now onto what this blog is supposed to be about. Europe. Returning to Berlin is genuinely difficult. Obviously there’s the fact that jet lag is still ravaging me, but more so, it’s tough to leave family and friends (or more accurately, friends that are family) after such a wonderful, wonderful time. There’s also one small school assignment I haven’t spent as much time on as I should’ve while in the States. Just a 25 minute presentation (luckily including discussion) on universal access to sexual and reproductive health in Botswana. The one good thing about not being able to sleep is that it gives you a lot of extra time to read. In the end, I think the presentation actually goes quite well, and I am able to defend myself pretty decently during the discussion (the word bloodbath comes to mind when I think of my profs questions/responses to some people’s presentations; she’s terrifying, but in truth, wicked good).
Anyway, enough of the serious stuff. Onto the football. Euro 2012 starts this week. For those of you who don’t know, this is the European soccer championships where 16 teams duke it out to be crowned the champion of Europe. It’s essentially the World Cup minus Brazil and Argentina. The tourney is being held in Poland and Ukraine which actually are not that far away from me being on the eastern side of Germany. My only realistic chance of going there though would be this weekend, and after so much travel, it just seems impractical (not to mention the threat of monkey chants or worse that seem to still pervade soccer in Eastern Europe). Instead, we watched the first round of games at a friend’s house. It all kicks off with the opening ceremonies where tons of people are dancing in crazy costumes and some famous Pole plays the piano. Out of nowhere though, some guy in the most horrendously ugly, shiny, gold, leopard printish frock (I don’t know what a frock is but it seems to flow) comes out and starts DJing out of the back of this piano (see pic). Huh? It makes little to no sense as far as I’m concerned. In the end, Poland, Greece, Russia, and the Czech Republic play that night. Even though the games aren’t particularly enthralling, we still have a good time.
Saturday though is the big game. Deutschland versus Cristiano and Co. (Portugal). Seeing as a good friend of mine is Portuguese, we agree to watch the game in a Portuguese bar. As I’m walking to the bar something hilarious happens. With Berlin being a very multicultural city, you hear plenty of languages all the time, and you’ll even run into the odd American every once in a while. Well, I’m walking through a famous bar-laden street which currently has TVs outside of every restaurant for people to watch the games, and cutting through the noises of the world comes an American accent. The only line I hear from this girl is (said in a pseudo-valley girl accent), “There were like soooo many hot guys on that street. Bone structure OVERLOAD.” At this point, I burst out laughing, because you can’t make up something that fantastic. I then get a couple evil glares, but I think they’re just jealous of my bone structure. Anyway, I get to the bar, and I’m the first to arrive. I maybe should’ve thought to arrive with someone else, because I am now sitting alone at a table wearing a Germany jersey in a bar full of Portuguese. Hawkward. Eventually, the crew arrives and we’re split pretty evenly between Portuguese and German supporters. We eat all kinds of Portuguese tapas which are wonderful. I think my favorite part is that they like to just randomly wrap things in bacon (grilled pork wrapped in bacon; you’re right, there wasn’t enough meat in that one). It is a lot of fun watching the game, and it gets even better when Mario Gomez headers home in the 72nd minute to seal the victory for ze Germans. No doubt Deutschland didn’t play their best game, but they pulled out the W either way. From there, we go to another bar to celebrate with the rest of Germany. There is one reason why I will forever remember this bar. It has the highest urinal I’ve ever seen. I know I’m not a tall man, but I’ve never been required to be on my tippy toes to tinkle (you know you like the alliteration). Ridiculous. To cap off the night, we go to a burger joint known as the Burgeramt. This is a play on the German word Bürgeramt which is the public office where you register where you’re living, file for welfare, etc. These places are similar to an American DMV. There are crazy long lines and the workers seem as though your concern couldn’t be farther from something they care about. And just like the real Bürgeramt, we have to wait longer than expected for our “fast food.” The burger is quite tasty though, so I can’t complain too much.
Seeing as I got a bit overzealous with the whole wedding recap, I’ll wrap this blog up shortly. Before I do though, there’s a question I get fairly often that I’d like to answer. What makes Gustavus such a great place? Although there are a million legitimate answers to this question, one stands above the rest. The people. This year has really shown me that no matter what, whether I’m in Minneapolis or across the pond, the friendships forged at Gustavus will not only continue but become stronger with every passing day. That’s what Gustavus gave me that I will truly cherish forever. The friends you want surrounding you during the special moments in your life.
Hugs and hand pounds,