"A forecast for the wedding day is impossible to pin down, though no fewer than a dozen of us are trying to do so at any given moment."
PORT ARANSAS, TX: We are here on this island for my brother’s wedding. Not even two months have passed since Harvey blew through—signs are missing their letters, walls and roofs have sloughed off their shingles, and whole palm trees are beaten back so that they appear to grow up out of the earth sideways. The fronds of the fallen trees lay stacked in heaps along the cleared stretches of the grounds, like the rolled bails of hay along a farmer’s fields. Back on the mainland, about half the restaurants and hotels are closed. We are still technically within the hurricane season, though we have reached its final days, days that feel eerie and quiet. The skies change every hour from mood to mood, from sun to clouds to rain. A forecast for the wedding day is impossible to pin down, though no fewer than a dozen of us are trying to do so at any given moment, using at least a dozen arguing devices and weather apps.
The day of the wedding dawns miraculously hot and sunny. I tail my brother, the groom, from a safe distance as he runs his final errands with wide, serious eyes. I crack jokes, asking him if he’d like a fifty-cent corn dog at the gas station where we use the ATM, then point to the lone port-a-potty on the side of the road to read out what’s printed on it: TEXAS THRONE. My brother laughs with gentle ease and a big grin, just like he did when we were kids—when I was always saying something stupid and he was always there to laugh with me. Kurt Vonnegut wrote that it’s the youngest child who ends up the humorist because cracking a joke is “the only way he can enter an adult conversation.” But sometimes it’s just what she has to offer. Today I want only to calm his nerves about the crowd that will gather to watch him recite his vows in a few hours. He has never liked crowds, or being the center of any kind of attention.
The clouds have returned to take over the sky by the time my brother asks to borrow a pen and a piece of paper. He knows what he is going to say, but he heads off down to the beach to jot down some notes, alone, before the photographer arrives. I don’t know if he used the paper, but he returns the pen and gives his vows as though he did not need either. The rain holds off, and the night is warm like summer.