Nov. 9, 2016

The Adventure Begins, Part 8 of 13

Summary of an Event Day

The sun rises and the grass glistens with dew. The rays dip into the valley below and just miss the front porch, creating a quiet nook of shade. I leave my room with my purse and computer, and lock my door. As I slip under the rope that blocks our hallway, the first two staff members ring the doorbell. We hug and walk into the kitchen where I immediately start assembling the french press, and pulling cups down.

We sip the first half of our addiction down in silence, each of us deep in thought about what must be accomplished in the long day that stands in front of us. We often laugh, saying that this is “the calm before the storm;” the few quiet minutes that this day will hold. After about 10 of these go by in peace, we hash over our own lives. Because though we’re colleagues, we’re lucky enough to be friends. And finally, like a child resisting to leave his bed, we make it to the business of the day; the plan, the list.

As we tip back the last bits of French coffee out of our still-warm cups, we’re up and moving. Another cup of coffee, yes, but on the go. We each head to our different tasks, we each continue to relish the last silence of the day.

A few hours later, all the prep is done and we change into our better clothes. Looking presentable, we refill our coffee and take our assigned positions. One by one the cars stream up the drive like little ants in a parade. 10, maybe 15 come in that first wave which is usually the bridal party. And then I’m directing the indoor traffic, explaining where things are, getting the initial items that were forgotten, and once again, after a rush, it’s quiet.
Finally I’ve reached the moment where there’s both time and energy to start thinking about lunch and dinner.

I sip my semi-warm cup and I’m left to my own thoughts for an hour or so, besides the random wanderer curiously walking through the house, or a bridesmaid running to grab the champagne she left in the greenhouse fridge. In the next wave it’s the groomsmen who arrive, walking through the house like they know where they’re going, but I redirect. They’re usually calm, quiet, and they usually stay put upstairs. Finally I’ve reached the moment where there’s both time and energy to start thinking about lunch and dinner.

I use this time as a creative outlet, while maintaining availability to the client. It results in a very slow cooking process. I only make one item at a time so that I can help when needed and keep the mess minimal. For lunch I decide on a chopped cobb salad. Frying food and using the oven are off limits until all clients are out of the house, but I’ve become resourceful. I start the water on the stove and pull the eggs out to start getting to room temperature before they boil.

When I’ve combined the greens, corn, bleu cheese, chicken, bacon (both meats cooked the night before) and the avocado-lime dressing, I call the employees in one at a time to get their portable bowls of lunch.  A few grab more coffee, convinced that the first three cups aren’t cutting it, and then they’re gone again.

Instead of doing the dishes then, I put them all in the laundry room; only washing the ones I’ll need for dinner. Tonight it’s pulled pork, roasted potatoes with onions and cherry tomatoes, garlic string beans, and chocolate mousse with raspberries.  The pork goes into the portable roasting oven that has been plugged in in the laundry room. The vegetables are chopped and put back into the fridge until it’s their turn to hit the oven once the clients have moved on to the tent for the reception. The mousse is easy; it’s creamed avocados, coconut milk, cocoa and honey. I dish it into small singular cups and let it set up in the fridge. The rest waits until later.
We try to stay out of their way and give them a moment together, but often we coo from the sides at their nervousness and last words as she still shares his last name.

I finish right as family photos begin, which is usually two hours prior to ceremony.  The families of the bride and groom have arrived and will be relaxing in all areas of the house including the kitchen. I wipe the last bits of spilled mousse from the counter and remove my apron right as the bride’s grandma walks in the door, followed by the rest of the family. And everything appears clean, calm, and natural.

The rush of pictures is followed by the arrival of guests as the bride hurriedly hides back upstairs. I make sure no guests enter the house and I gently guide any that slip past me to the ceremony site and gift table. That hour ticks by as family and the bridal party begin to congregate in the central part of the house. At this time I’m answering questions, calming nervous moms and dads, making sure the corsages are pinned and getting a cold water bottle for the bride.

As more and more of the bridal party exit to walk down the aisle, eventually I’m left with a few staff members, the bride and her father. These moments are precious. We try to stay out of their way and give them a moment together, but often we coo from the sides at their nervousness and last words as she still shares his last name. The moment comes, the song changes from the outside, we pull the double doors open, and out they go.

For the first time since the morning, the house is completely still. We use this time to clean up any trash, refresh the restrooms and I hurry to start the oven. The bridal party will be taking pictures immediately after the ceremony and the guests will head to the tent. In this time the house will remain mostly quiet besides the occasional photographer running through to grab a forgotten sash or to find the right angle from a balcony.

I put the vegetables in the oven and check on the pork. Staff members are cleaning upstairs, and I take a deep breath. A rumble of music can be heard as the DJ starts the party. I begin tossing green beans into a skillet, with peppery olive oil and turn the potatoes in the oven. Next, our staff stacks the ceremony stairs and my goal is to have dinner ready to be plated by the time they’re done.
As their taillights flow down the driveway, I’m already in pajamas, already missing them, already climbing into bed, already thinking of what to cook next week.

I serve everyone and we all exchange stories of our day, and laugh and laugh until all of a sudden 30 minutes has ticked by and someone has to go check how the trash is doing at the tent. Everyone disperses to their new positions outside and I’m left with one staff member to help me clean the inside of the house. We start with the dishes I’ve piled in the laundry room.

Once the downstairs is completely clean, all there is to do is wait. Someone has to stay inside until the client’s things are out of the house, so I sit and read. I’ve now been working for 12 hours, and sitting down is wonderful. This is the home stretch to the finish line.

Eventually the bridal party makes their way back inside to get their things and I facilitate any way I can. Once they’re all gone, I lock the back door and head to the tent where about 200 chairs covers and chairs await to be disassembled. We put the chair covers in bags, stack the chairs and tables, take the trash to the huge dumpster, check the bathrooms, turn off the tent lights, turn off the pool fountain, shut the gates, and we’re done.

Sometimes the parents of the bride leave a little cake with us, so the few staff that are left come inside and we hover around the hunk of sweetness. After our cake, there’s a little more laughing and then hugs and goodbyes are exchanged. We’re tired, but happy. As their taillights flow down the driveway, I’m already in pajamas, already missing them, already climbing into bed, already thinking of what to cook next week.

I fall asleep imagining the meal... “Chicken marsala! Oh, but Jen hates mushrooms. What about brussels sprouts? They’d probably turn their nose up at that, but it’d be delicious caramelized and then added to the sauce. Yes that’s it. And maybe spiced sweet potatoes, and some drop biscuits--if I can do them with almond meal. Can I? I wonder…”
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Posted in: Our Adventures

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