A year ago, I told my partner that I wanted to tell everyone I know that they should anticipate seeing us together for a long time. I said, “When people invite me to something, they should know you’ll be there, too. But they should probably meet you first. Perhaps all at once.” That’s how my partner and I ended up throwing a big party.
Now that all the planning and partying is done, I can look back at how wonderfully love-filled the event was. And that was really the point: to celebrate all the love between family and friends. We wanted to bring together all the people who made us who we are, to cherish those relationships, and for everyone to meet as we all create a future together.
I feel some reluctance in posting this because it seems self-indulgent, but in the spirit of celebration, I’ll share some highlights.
We stated our commitment to each other in the temple that I grew up going to. My family helped it grow from a small house into a ceremonious, capacious temple. This is where my grandmother taught me how to make delicate rose-shaped dumplings for hundreds of people in the congregation. This is where we’d see family friends — people my parents met while they were in refugee camps. This is where I laid on cool tiles during Santa Ana winds. I go here to see the photo of my grandmother on the altar, and think of all the prayers and philosophies she taught me.
This is where my partner and I promised to support each other for the rest of our lives.
It’s remarkable to look at a crowd of faces and know every one. To have memories and really your whole life before your eyes. To see Andrea and think of biking through sequoias and diving in waterfalls. To see Uyen and Hanh and remember our Vietnamese dance troupe. To remember all the joys and sorrows you’ve shared that make you, you. And that after all those experiences, two people from different places and histories can come together to find a kindred spirit.
If it’s too much to think about, the reception comes along just in time. Our friends did a stellar job of making a wonderful evening. I’m saving all the thank yous for the cards I still need to write, but I’ll name a few. David Kaisel of Capay Mills made 20 pie crusts out of his Chiddam Blanc and Edison wheat — grown and milled. My friend Rachel experimented with sweet potato and blackberry fillings for months and ended up flying out with filling she made in New York and transferring them to the pie crusts in California. They were the best pies I’ve ever eaten. I wish I still had some. Mark Stambler of Pagnol Boulanger made 20 loaves of bread with my wheat and everyone was in love with it. My friend’s 7-month-old ate it, and it was the first bread she’d ever eaten. I nearly melted when I heard this!
Food food food. How about drinks? Despite good advice, I wanted to provide home-made sodas because I couldn’t live with the idea of serving high fructose corn syrup. Especially when some family members have diabetes — I’d be such a jerk! I came up with some cocktails, and one included the fermented ume juice from the Cal Specialty Produce Cooperative that I work with. Shameless plug for the co-op and its delicious ume juice!
After food and drink, I announced that anyone could come up to sing and kick off the dancing. As I moved off the dance floor and my partner went towards the bathroom, I heard my dad clear his throat. He had cued the music and I instantly grabbed my partner’s hand. “Huh?” was the shocked facial expression of someone who doesn’t feel comfortable dancing and can see what’s coming. “My dad’s singing and we’re right here,” I said as I walked to the dance floor and my dad started to sing “Love Me With All of Your Heart.”
My dad is a tough act to follow. Only Elvis can try, and that’s what happened. We got a surprise visit from Elvis and experienced a spectacular performance. What isn’t captured in this photo is Elvis outstretching his palm to give this child a high five. There was a pregnant pause, hand open but no movement from the kid. And right as the chorus ends and on the final beat: high-five contact. We all cheered and carried on dancing, laughing, and enjoying the company of people from across seas, across continents, across life’s diversity of experiences. I felt humbled, grateful, and in awe of this richness of family and friendship. I am rich with love.