Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: A second wind
We have been waiting for this event since we heard the news that he popped the question — a big fat Greek wedding in Craig, where our ancestors first settled from their homeland villages.
While most of them were arranged marriages at the time, their love for the culture and the land continues to influence the Yampa Valley.
It started with them, but it is the Christmases, the countless New Year’s Eve parties and the weddings that have made our bond timeless. Whether we are all smashed into the basement of the Kourlis house, fighting over who was mouthing the words during Pictionary, or sledding in the crisp snow of the Charchalis sledding hill on New Year’s Day, fourth and fifth cousins have become first cousins and those with no blood ties at all have become family.
We all look forward to these moments when we all come together in Craig. Some relatives are local and some travel thousands of miles, but no matter what, we all end up in the same small area eating, drinking and dancing.
These are happy memories and moments. Without them, I know I could never get through the hardships. It is having these moments and people to look forward to that keep you progressing and smiling. It makes the bad days and little better and the good days more appreciated.
Because we come from different locations, it takes events or holidays to bring us together. It seems like lately we have been seeing a lot more of each other. Unfortunately, the events that have been bringing us together recently have not been so joyous.
We have lost some of the most influential and important people in our circle. And while the party continues to go on in their memory and our timeless bond, something seems off beat. Amongst the beautiful dresses and familiar faces, I still search for those lost ones in the commotion of an event hoping that they will join me on the dance floor, at the bar or for dinner.
I think I can speak for everyone in saying that we needed this wedding. We needed to see two people genuinely in love after a tough couple of years and a long resilient journey.
We needed to celebrate a new life together and those who have left us. It confirmed that, at the end of the day, these moments and relationships are truly the most important. The wedding weekend gave us all a second wind for the unknown obstacles that may lie ahead.
Now I am here, in my new home and off on my own solo journey.
As I pulled out of my driveway, I realized that my idea was finally a reality.
Before I left town, there was one stop I had left to make. I had to say “see you later” to the one who taught me to fly. I asked her questions like I always do when I visit her.
“Mom, will I be okay over there?” “Will they understand my small town upbringing?” And last, “Will you come with me?”
And she answered me like she always did, “Missy, take one thing at a time.” After an unforgettable weekend and a motivational Mom talk, I did one thing, and put the car in drive.