wonderfully wonderfully wonderfully wonderfully pretty


In the middle of April in 1987, my mom and 14-year-old sister came to pick me up at Carolina en route to a beach house they’d rented in South Carolina for Easter weekend. My 16-year-old brother Sean had already been on campus for a few days, doing some underage drinking and hooking up with a chick in Cobb Dorm, which I thought was pretty impressive.

Mom and Michelle walked the four flights of stairs up to 407 Grimes, where they saw my roommates Chip and Jon, all of us in a room that defined being nineteen years old in 1987: Cure posters, Springfest t-shirts on the floor, blue cups, sugar cereals and a map of America where someone in the dorm had drawn an arrow above Maryland saying “girls above this line fuck”.


later that day in a field near Dillon, SC: Michelle, their friend Jessica, and Sean

It was there my sister first saw Jon Vaden, and I doubt either thought much of it; Michelle was middle-angst, post-parents-divorce with half her head shaved, and Jon had RTVMP homework (usually defined by Chip as “having to watch ‘Three’s Company'”). It was a brief encounter, but whatever seedling was planted took twenty-one years to germinate, and I should know – a few months later and a few blocks away, I met my own wife, and it took us thirteen years to get our act together.

Jon feels an incredible amount of pressure, most of it self-inspired, to behave honorably, and in many cases it came at the expense of his own happiness. He has always stuck with situations long past his sense of self-preservation, because he knew it to be the right thing to do. We used to give him nicknames like “Needles” and “Will You Stop Touching Me” because we thought he was emotionally halted – the truth was, he was feeling things far too much.

My sister, for her part, wandered the Land of Dudes, where she temporarily sacrificed the absurd, intense delightfulness of her pre-teen psyche to the numbing mediocrity of guys who had no business keeping up with her. Finally, she packed it in, moved to Napa Valley and resurrected its Arts Council before being whisked away to Santa Cruz to oversee a million-dollar budget in one of the best metropolitan arts communities in the country.

They have always seen each other at various farm get-togethers and Jartaculars, as my close friends and family have wonderfully blurry lines, but they began their courtship over a feature not directly intended for marriage: the “chat” function on Facebook’s old Scrabbleâ„¢ application. You know, the one that was good.


on Saturday, with Sean officiating

If there were ever two needs met, two souls actualized by one event, Jon and Michelle getting together defines not just love, but the efficiency of love. In one act, my sister finally finds the man she has been looking for, no longer having to slow herself down so that the stragglers can keep up… and one of my best, oldest friends in the world can finally be content, be sated, be blissful, and relax.

Not that he will relax, nor she, because Michelle and Jon are inherent doers of stuff, accomplishers of things, and wranglers of interest. But tomorrow, we’ll drive them to the San Jose airport, where they will board a plane for Hawaii, and for a few days, may the gentle swells of a warm ocean tell them both their wait is over.


(photos by the amazing Lars Lucier)

0 thoughts on “wonderfully wonderfully wonderfully wonderfully pretty

  1. CM

    God, what you wrote is beautiful. And both of them LOOK beautiful. Congratulations to them both, and congratulations to you all for adding another great family member.

  2. LFMD

    I loved this post. Land of Dudes! Hee hee. RTVMP = watching Three’s Company. Hee hee! And the description of Jon and Michelle . . . lovely lovely lovely.
    The kiss photo is particularly Swoon-Worthy! So happy for them!

  3. jif

    gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous – the bride, the couple, the officiant, the setting, that dress, the little tear on her cheek (!), congratulations to the happy couple – and to you ian and tessa on your new brother-in-law!x

  4. Josie

    Beautiful! Congratulations All!
    This is haunting: “we thought he was emotionally halted – the truth was, he was feeling things far too much” and probably true of many.

  5. GFWD

    She launched into that kiss. Outstanding. Today is my 7th year anniversary, so this is a well-timed post. Congrats Michelle and Jon. The time will fly . . . enjoy it!

  6. kjf

    This gave me goosebumps! These are 2 more people I have never met but feel like I have known for years. Congrats to the newlyweds and enjoy Hawaii!! ( Beautiful bride by the way!!)

  7. chip

    What a delight to be in Santa Cruz this weekend. Mazel tov and decades of joy to Jon and Michelle.

  8. Kelly

    awesome; best wishes Michelle & Jon! hope you post some more photos from the day Ian, bet Lucy had a mighty sweet party dress and a mighty sweet smile to go with it.

  9. jje

    Lovely, lovely! After following Michelle’s blog for quite some time, I’m delighted to see her finally get her “Happily Ever After.”
    Congratulations to all!
    (Am I the only one wishing for more than just two pictures? LOL!)

  10. Lisa on Maui

    Such a great story with a wonderfully happy ending…
    Are they coming to Maui?
    I’d be happy to show them around (if they leave their hotel room).

  11. Lisa

    I’ve come back to this post three times today. So lovely! Regardless of my circumstances, I’m a hopeless romantic. Best of luck to all!

  12. jason savage

    last two paragraphs are just exquisite. amen to it all. reminds me of Roger Angell writing about the utter joy of believing in something larger than yourself (he was writing about fervent baseball fans, but none the less): “this is why we come”.


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