IMR: 1997: November: 19 -- Wednesday, 11:56 a.m.
Our Apartment, Waikiki, Hawai`i

Jen's asleep. She took a paid holiday Tuesday, the day after the wedding, and went back to work today... only to come down with a bug of some kind. She lost her lunch and was promptly sent home.

I picked her up at 7 p.m. and she was in bed by 8:45 p.m. (shortly after the new Thanksgiving episode of South Park).

Tired as I am, I want to record what I can of the last 48 hours; a couple of days that in no uncertain terms will undoubtedly change my life.

We actually left on time on Monday, picking up Micheal and William -- both in their Sunday best -- at UH and heading downtown. A short stop was made at the bank to secure the $50 fee the Honorable Ms. Hayashi asked for her services.

The courthouse sits on the corner of Alakea and King, a part of downtown known for its bizzare maze of one-way streets. After circling several blocks a few times, each time missing our target by an infuriating few address digits, we ended up parking at the municipal lot across St. Andrew's Cathedral. Then we walked the three or so blocks down Alakea, fortunately not looking too overdressed for downtown at 3:30 p.m.

The drive down, however, had left the back of my shirt stained dark with sweat. William pointed it out with glee, and while even now I'm certain it was simply the hot afternoon my the less-than-comfy car seat, Jen suspected it was nervousness.

I admitted I was a tad nervous.

We got to the courthouse, and took a seat on some of the benches in the cavernous, tiled courtyard. In no time at all, Gayle appeared with grandma Ozawa, and started taking pictures. Dad followed, then mom, who had simply walked from her office. Again, more pictures.

Mom was amazing. She bought a haku lei for Jen and a ti leaf lei for me. What's more, she bought a formal bouquet for Jen. All this, I admit, I might have expected. But she also gave Jen earrings and two bracelets (one pearl, the other a charm bracelet she's had since her college days). After decorating Jen with the unexpected items, she counted off.

"Something old, something new..."

She thought of everything. I wouldn't have thought to honor even so basic a tradition in a wedding that, two weeks ago, we expected to be as bare-bones as a cardboard box.

Just as mom was about to throw a fit over their tardiness, Todd walked up with grandma Henderson. As 4:20 p.m. rolled around, Jen's friend Gracie and her ex-boyfriend Nick arrived. I scanned the streets looking for Kim and Donica, who'd said they'd be there.

"Well, Ryan, at least you know you have two real friends," Micheal said.

"More like one and a half," William replied.

"Hey," Micheal said. "I count as one and a half all by myself."

Fortunately, at 4:30 p.m. sharp, Kim and Donica arrived. "We made it!" they cheered, and conferred unto us gifts. Totally unexpected. Hugs all around.

In mid-hug (and subsequent picture taking), a robed woman emerged from the building. She smiled and introduced herself as Leslie, with all the grace and charm befitting a judge. Jen and I were both surprised to find she wasn't Japanese. Instead, Judge Hayashi was a regal, seasoned Caucasian, seemingly straight off a bench in Law & Order.

Without delay, she led our party (numbering fourteen in all) into an elevator and up to a vacant office of sorts on one of the higher floors in the building. It had a generous view of the city and part of the Capitol district.

Jen and I opted to handle the paperwork first. My name wasn't to change any, so I only had to struggle to sign my full name (including both middle names -- not even their initials appear in my standard signature). I realized as I put the pen to paper that I still had my bike-chain bracelet on, an artifact of my wilder days that both my father and Jen have long pressured me to remove.

I actually agreed to take it off, and had planned to that morning in the midst of the other errands Micheal and I ran. It slipped my mind. I couldn't say I was too upset that I still had it, though. It's never come off since it was riveted on in 1993, and frankly it's a pretty good ice breaker.

Jen's paperwork was a little more complicated, as she was taking my name and turning her maiden name into a middle name. After some confusion, however, she neatly signed, "Jennifer Ann Eno Ozawa."

By this point, I was a little more than a tad nervous.

Judge Hayashi called for two witnesses. One, as was always planned, was William, who was quite pleased to set his name on a document that would define our lives. The other was Gracie, who -- I realized at that moment -- was the only guest present specifically for Jen.

In the fleeting moment between folding up all the papers and standing to hear the judge's pronouncements, I was suddenly struck with the thought of how much more momentous this day must be for Jen.

She was changing her name and joining my family, which has always surrounded and supported us. Yet, her friends here are few, and her family will always be nearly 5,000 miles away.

I was very nervous. I was getting married.

The judge's words of love and friendship and forever were beautiful... but for the life of me I can't remember a single sentence. Still, it felt as if every word was striking deep in my heart and resonating through my body. I wasn't sure if I was going to sing, cry or faint. I had to struggle to hold my smile. Not because I was suddenly unhappy, but because my entire brain was suddenly being pureed.

She stopped talking. My cue.

"I do," I said.

Not a moment later, Jen answered. "I do."

William stepped forward with the rings. The judge spoke of symbolism and bonds and wonderful things, and again I don't remember a single word.

But I succeeded, if not clumsily, in putting the ring on Jen's hand, after some confusion as to which hand I was dealing with. Then Jen lifted my hand and slid my ring on.

And on my honor, this is exactly what went through my mind: "Oh my god, are my hands really that hairy? And my fingers... they're short and stubby!"

The next thing I knew, we were pronounced man and wife. I managed a fumbling kiss, and was simply thankful I didn't kiss William by mistake.

More pictures were taken, including one with the excellent Judge Hayashi. We filed back into the elevator and out into the courtyard, and Gracie and Nick were on their way.

As we were saying goodbye to Kim and Donica, however, my dad proposed that everyone stay together and eat dinner at Yong Sing, a prominent Chinese restaurant down the street. After confirming with mom that dad was handling the tab and that all remaining guests were welcome, everyone stuck around to eat.

The restaurant was completely empty, a fact noted out loud by my mother when the hostess asked if we, a party of twelve, had reservations.

Given the importance of the occasion, it was clear my mother wasn't going to settle for anything less than exactly everything we wanted. After we had two tables set for us, she asked once, then twice, if they could be pushed together. Both times the staff answered yes, but continued with their business.

"Can you push the tables together?" she asked a third time.

"Yes, sure," the woman answered.

"We're waiting," mom said, with the unmistakable hint of wrath she's famous for when it comes to demanding service from the service industry.

Our servers were, understandably rather gruff that night, but the food was excellent. There had to have been six, seven courses (at a final price William estimated in excess of $260), "including Jen's trademark oyster sauce chicken with cake noodle" and my "random meat with little bun."

The chatter didn't stop at our table, as everyone caught up on gossip. Star-Bulletin, Ka Leo, old friends escaped to the Mainland... It was good to hear the real-world professionals had the same awareness and evaluation of the new Ka Leo regime.

Eventually we were all stuffed silly, and the leftovers made for a four-foot stack of Chinese take-out boxes. We said our goodbyes and filed out onto the street, and William, Micheal, Jen and I headed back to the car.

"Why is everybody staring?" Jen asked.

"Because the four of us are all dressed up, I'm wearing a lei and you've got a haku on your head," I said.

"So, Mrs. Ozawa..." William began.

We were, in every sense of the otherwise simple word, giddy.

When we got home, Jen said, "Left single, came back married." She forgave me for not carrying her across the threshold.

I called dad then mom to say thanks as Jen opened our cards and gifts. Of course there were checks, $250 in all. Doni had gotten us a beautiful frame, Kim a gift certificate from Hard Rock Cafe, Gracie a Christmas ornament. We put all the cards up on the bookshelf and were asleep by 9:30 p.m.

One of the biggest days of our life, and we were out earlier than we'd ever been all year.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 19 November 1997 · Last Modified: 4 December 1997