Looking on, I wanted to be part of the little group standing outside the pharmacy at Florence Central Station, but I floated above them, invisible, watching. I watched them all arrive at different times, a little before 3PM. A group of them arrived by train from Rome and some of them trickled into the entrance after having spent a couple of days in Florence exploring the city. What you must really know about this little group I was dying to be a part of had flown in from Malawi, Zambia, the USA, London and Australia. I wanted to be a part of them simply because of the smiles, laughter, hugs, capturing of the moment with pictures. There was pure joy in seeing each other after a long time. Love lived there!
As they enjoyed each others company in all the excitment, two men approached them holding up the signs, Cathal and Vinjeru. Their shuttle buses to Greve in Chianti had arrived. The excitement of seeing each other spilled into the cars as they caught up on each others lives. Now listen, this group of people had been doing the absolute most with the little amount of time they had in Italy. They had done a lot of exploring in Rome and Florence (Highlights: The Vatican, Leonardo da Vinci Museum, Wine Tours). Hugh and Wali, had just flown in from the USA, they could only keep up with that excitement for so long until their bodies gave up! Which they did! They well asleep and some of them simply watched the rolling hills of Chianti, letting in the peace that the hills freely gave. They all agreed on one thing as they went up the hill leading to Villa la Veronica, ‘it feels like home.’ Home being Livingstonia in Malawi. “You can take the girl out of the mountains but you can’t take the mountains out of the girl.”
For those of you who have not been to the historic town of Livingstonia in Malawi, it looks a lot like this, minus the vineyards of course. What you will see instead is coffee and as you head towards the Manchewe Waterfalls, more of a mushroom farm (if you know, you know). Arriving at the Villa, they gathered at the reception, checking in amidst conversations of how beautiful the place was. “Hello” It was Cathal and Vinjeru in unison, a flurry of hi’s and hugs and nice to meet you’s followed. The poor receptionist did not know what to do with herself. The little group was assigned their rooms and as they stood there two cars arrived, ushering in more relatives, and more laughter and good to see you’s. If you thought it was not possible for the receptionist to get more overwhelmed, you would be wrong. She visibly did not know what to do with herself in the middle of all that excitement. It was probably the most excitement they had witnessed at the villa.
The shuttle bus rolled down the hills with the back drop of dark clouds and by the time they got to Greve it was raining. This little party could not be deterred, the excitement carried as they descended down the spiral staircase into the winery. Glasses of wine welcomed them about the bottom of the steps and that marked the beginning of the wedding festivities. As the night carried on, different groups from the different villa’s housing the guests for the wedding arrived. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews re-united. The wine flowed, the food disappearing from the serving stations, the conversations ranged from school, work, relationships, culture, think it and I heard it all from above them. The two families were introduced by family representatives. As much as the wine flowed, they all behaved themselves, pacing themselves, they were going to have a big day the next day.
I watched them walk up the driveway, stop and take pictures, create a walk up video like the football players do underneath a canopy of green created by the pine trees lining the drive way. It opened up at the entrance of the castle. On the right side of the castle, white tiffany chairs sat in neat rolls, patiently waiting for the guests that would sit in them as Cathal and Vinjeru got married at the alter made up of vines and flowers and a bed of red roses above the little rocks on the ground. Garden chairs and tables had also been set up around the pond, further away from where Cathal and Vin would say their vows for the cocktail hour.
I watched as Cathal stood at the end of the aisle waiting for Vin, as her dad walked her down the aisle, in a champagne tulle and flare dress with a cathedral veil. The officiant called my name and I walked up to the alter and I read Song of Songs “My Beloved lifts up his voice, he says to me “come then, my love; my lovely one, come.” I was a part of this little group. As I sat there watching my cousin exchange vows with the love of her life, I remembered a conversation we had last year, she said to me, “the moment I realized I was worthy of nothing but the best and acted as such, this amazing man walked into my life. It’s like my awareness of self worth drew him to me!” Incredible is it not! We spend so much time, placing value in what others think of us, thinking our worth comes from their validation. The truth is, we have to love ourselves first before anyone can love us.
The beautiful thing about this conversation was that we had both come to that realization. I have gone through a process of learning to love myself, my body, my personality. By the time I was sitting in that Tiffany chair at Vin’s wedding, I can run you over, really, I can knock you off your feet with how much I love myself.
I was so happy for her, we all were and so we celebrated our Vin the best way we knew how. Indulging in the Italian wine, we sang, we danced and we signed off the night at the castle with Black Eyed Peas – Time of Our Lives.
I was JADED about marriage. I did not just arrive at jaded, I was on the fence about marriage and then I took a deep dive into JADED and lived there for a while based on the relationships I have observed over the years. Watched my Vin walk down the aisle, in that moment I realized I want to spend the rest of my life with someone who loves me. Which is evident in the fact that Rihanna’s song ‘We All Want Love’ is stuck in my head thanks to a road trip to Monkey Bay.
‘We all wanna be somebody’s one and only…..yeah we all want love.’
We continued to celebrate love with a BBQ the next day with more Chianti wine and dancing.
A toast to everyone in loving marriages; a toast to everyone looking for love; a toast to all of us who can run you over with how much we love ourselves; a toast to everyone learning to love themselves and finally A TOAST TO LOVE!
‘That Malawian Girl’