The younger sister of Antonio, my then-housemate, married her fiancé in a good-sized ceremony on the lower southern slopes of Mt. Hood. I drove Antonio there that morning (another sunny morning; we'd had a week of sunshine in Portland, kind of like this week). Much of Hwy. 26 eastbound gives you a view of the mountain. It was grayer than normal; there had been a lot of snowmelt, more than usual, and Mt. Hood looked almost ugly. Not as striking as normal. Still plenty striking, though; Mt. Hood's an, I think, arresting mountain. I've sometimes said that Portland makes up for its lack of quantity of nearby mountains with the quality of nearby mountains.
Some in the wedding party had been in the air, crossing the country, when the planes hit. A few of them were among the last people to get to their destinations that Tuesday, before planes started landing wherever they could land. Two members of the party had not yet launched from Colorado when the air fleet was grounded; they got to their car, loaded it and drove non-stop, switching off driving duties until they'd reached Mt. Hood.
It had been, of course, a dramatic week for everyone (here's one of my rambling accounts of part of it). I remember a couple of days earlier, looking at the sky above King City where my dad's parents lived at the time, and thinking the skies haven't been this empty since, I dunno, the Forties. Maybe the Thirties. The enormity of the attack hit me another way when I'd realized that. The couple had considered postponing the wedding, but had decided to go through with it. It meant that some people couldn't make it -- no planes, no back-up plan for getting there -- but the turnout was still strong.
People needed a positive event like this.
The wedding party filled up a rented house above Government Camp, Oregon. We ate from a large mobile barbecue, large enough to be pulled like a trailer. We had cloudcover by the time of the ceremony, but no rain. I took pictures, as my wedding gift. The other highlights of a wedding happened: dancing, partying, visiting, laughing.
"You could almost become a wedding junkie," I said that night.
Antonio and I left early Sunday morning, earlier than anyone else. We both had work, him earlier than me at the Cash 'n' Carry in Gresham. I had my call center work in downtown Portland. I drove us back, the canny choice of music being the score to The Last of the Mohicans: driving enough to keep me awake, soothing enough to let Antonio rest after a late night. McDonald's sold us breakfast; I dropped him off at his job; I went home and prepared for my job.
And back where we'd been, the celebrating continued.