By Jane Heil Usyk
June is wedding month, and this month Eddie is getting married. That sounds odd, because Eddie was two years old in the video I just saw, the one I am giving him for his wedding. My cousin Stuart made the video in 1986, which, to me, doesn’t sound that long ago. But it is; I know because Eddie was two in it.
He is marrying Eugenia, who met Eddie in law school. My future friend Joan lived in Brighton Beach, but one day in the early 1980s, she went to Lucca’s on Bleecker Street near Father Demo Square, and happened to meet me, who hung out there. I loved Lucca’s. You looked out the front windows and saw Father Demo Square and all the people in it and didn’t feel quite so alone.
Joan was a beautiful young woman, an artist and sculptor, who had lived most of her adult life in Europe but was home for a while. I was also quite young; in the video it’s my birthday and we—the family, my parents, my aunt and uncle and cousins, plus Joan and Eddie—are gathered in a house on the shore in Connecticut to celebrate it. Of course, I thought I was old as the hills. But now I see I was young and beautiful, as are all my relatives, and Joan, and Eddie.
Nobody was distracted by a cell phone. No one brought a computer.
Joan went back and forth to Switzerland during the ‘80s, but eventually decided she’d had enough of her life there and came back to New York City with her newborn son. He was a ray of sunshine who delighted everyone he met. We made trips together: me and my boyfriend, Joan and Eddie.
My father died not six months after the video was made, and my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. A year later, I met my future husband at a mixer in the great, but soon-to-be-extinguished, Lion’s Head Bar in Sheridan Square.
Speaking of meetings and marriages, my own wedding, twenty years ago, was a kind of elopement: just me and Michael, and our friend Lois, in St. Petersburg, Florida. Lois knew us from the Village; she had lived on Jones Street before she moved to St. Petersburg. She knew we wanted to get married, but we couldn’t actually put it together, with family all over the East Coast, factions, plus the cost of a big fancy wedding. Lois said she was going to arrange for us to be married. I went into her backyard and picked some flowers; and we went to the Pinellas County Town Hall. There, a nice clerk married us, and we three went to the Vinoy next door, and had a drink. That was all we could afford there. Total cost for us to get married: $122, including drinks.
When we got back to New York, my cousin Alice had a big party for us, a wonderful, unforgettable party in her penthouse on Central Park West. All our friends came.
Oddly enough, that, more or less, is what happened when my parents got married, in 1936; they eloped in New York, and when my mother’s parents found out about it, they staged a big party honoring my newlywed parents, and everyone felt better about it after that.
Eddie’s path was rocky for a while; he didn’t decide to be a lawyer until his late teens. In law school he met the lovely, serious, and organized Eugenia, and after they went through law school together they graduated a few years ago. And this June they are getting married in what promises to be a joyous event, and we will be there. I think I will have a wonderful time. My husband will be with me, and Joan, now the mother of the groom, and all my memories, and my little video of a two-year-old Eddie, and I will remember the joy of a happy marriage, and hope for the best for them.
Jane Heil Usyk has written over a hundred magazine articles in magazines such as Vogue, Cosmo, Glamour, Family Circle, Playgirl and Fitness. She also wrote a book, “Silence, Storytelling, and Madness: Strategies of Resistance in Nuyorican and Other Latina Women’s Coming-of-Age Stories,” which was published in 2013. She was an editor of Fitness Magazine and an editorial assistant at Vogue.