It was November 2004. Jason and I were flying out of the Savannah/Hilton Head Airport to Washington, D.C. for my uncle’s wedding. It was Jason’s first time on a plane, so he kept the mini bottles coming.
The trip was a whirlwind of activity until we sat down for the rehearsal dinner. Being from a small Southern town, my clothing consisted mainly of jeans, t-shirts and flip flops. Jason always dressed better than me, and for him it seemed completely effortless.
I was wearing the best dress outfit I had, but I was still feeling out of place among big city finery. My parents were at the next table, and I wondered if they would notice if I sneaked some wine.
Jason suddenly grabbed the edge of my chair and pulled me closer. He put his arm around my shoulders and whispered in my ear, “You are the most beautiful woman in this room.”
My heart fluttered. How did he know that I needed to hear that? At that moment?
We were chatting with another young couple at our table about business and careers. I had no plans. I had no idea what I would do when I finished college, but Jason moved the conversation like a pro.
He said proudly, “Bonnie will be a famous author one day.” Our companions were instantly intrigued, and soon the questions were flowing. “Who is your favorite author?” was answered with “Hemingway” and a discussion of his book, A Moveable Feast.
After most of the guests left the party, Jason was showing signs of taking advantage of the open bar too many times. He announced that he was ready to go, but “We are not walking back to the hotel!” he said loudly (he and my parents had gotten lost on the way over). I blushed and tried to shush him.
We went outside for a taxi, and he immediately put his coat around my shoulders because I was, as usual, not prepared for the cold.
After getting the hotel room key, he gamely resolved to try each door in the hallway until he found the right one. My dad guided him to the right room, and I worried for the rest of the night.
What would my parents think? Would Jason be anxious about drinking too much at my uncle’s rehearsal dinner? Would he be mad that I brought him here?
Not so. My parents were understanding, and my plus one brought his signature class and style to the wedding the next day.
I found him in the crowd when I walked down the aisle as a bridesmaid. My nervousness vanished, and I returned his smile.
We laughed together about his antics when we got home. My haphazard life is like a movie, I thought. It’s like a comedy.
After Jason died, I made a note in my private journal: “Drunk at my uncle’s wedding.” The note was written as a personal reminder of the event, and I planned to write more about it later.
Now that I am finally reflecting on the story, I can see the whole picture. That night was more than a romantic comedy:
Throughout the evening, we were working as a team. Jason kept the conversation flowing and built me up when he sensed that I was feeling shy.
All that time, he was feeling the same way.
When he drank too much, I steered him away from the crowd. And when he saw me shivering on that windy night, in a city where I was completely out of my element, he gave up his coat—he was like the chivalrous hero of an old black and white movie.