The right decisions can be the hardest to make, especially with the backdrop of a global pandemic.
When Lance and I were first engaged in December 2019, naive to the chaos that would soon be bestown upon us, we chose June 2021 for our wedding date. A year and a half to get ready sounded great.
Then 2020 yelled “psyche!” at the top of its lungs – a sentiment that continues to echo well into 2021.
Lance and I are both native Pennsylvanians. His hometown is my college town. After I graduated, I hung around Lock Haven for a few years and turned an internship into an associate editor position at the local daily newspaper. I wasn’t treading water per se; I was just quietly, internally nagged by a feeling of non-permanence. I was just riding out the feeling until it started to make sense.
My college newspaper pal, Lyndsey, worked at the sister newspaper to mine in Williamsport. Restless like me, she stopped by my apartment on a Wednesday afternoon and we looked online for a local music gig that night to kill some time.
Formerly a hotel, the South Avis Inn was a creaky old, dim-lit building with a gruff bartender and a sticky wrap-around bar, located at the end of a dusty dead-end street next to a lumber mill.
All character. No luster. It was great.
Few ventured there outside of its neighborhood barflies and local biker groups, but would sometimes incur more customers with stunts like open mic nights and pickle shot specials.
That night, Lyndsey and I were there for both.
It wasn’t long before Lyndsey recognized a friend from high school playing pool and went over to reunite with him. Not long after that, I was whooping him at pool (not really) and catching some flirty eyes (most definitely) from Lyndsey’s curly-haired friend on the other side of the 8-ball. This was his first time at the bar; he was there to watch his cousin perform at the open mic night.
Sometimes it’s about who ya know.
It’s been me and Lance ever since that Wednesday night at a crusty bar in the middle of central Pennsylvania. It’ll be six years together in June, in what would’ve been our wedding year.
Despite the virus, by mid-2020 we began ramping up wedding plans, figuring we’ve got a full year to ride out the pandemic, and certainly things would be back to normal by 2021.
This year's save-the-date, now canceled.
We concocted a multi-day wedding celebration so that it would feel more like a vacation than a one-day affair. A chunk of our guest list would be flying in from Pennsylvania, and for most, this would be their first time in Oregon. Perfect timing for an outdoor camping extravaganza, especially after being cooped up for the better part of 2020.
Four days of fun in cabins on the McKenzie River with all our family and friends in June – the perfect Oregon month due to little rain, comfortable temps, sunny days, late-arriving sunsets and clear night skies.
It was going to be awesome.
Wedding venue - Loloma Lodge in McKenzie Bridge
With so much uncertainty, I came to learn that it was stressful to plan a wedding during a pandemic, but I didn’t want my apprehension to get ahead of itself. Changes were afoot. The vaccine was coming. I remained optimistic for as long as I could, keen on 2021 and a return to normalcy.
I think we all were.
But as it turns out, that timeline didn’t work for the virus.
We are fortunate in Oregon to be among the best in the nation for keeping virus numbers low, and more so to see that reflected in Lane County data.
Things could really be so, so much worse.
Still, we’re two months into the new year, and it’s still a pretty bleak scene. Not enough vaccines coming down the chutes fast enough. New variants of the virus have been introduced. Everything is in flux.
Dr. Ann Cooley at PeaceHealth in Cottage Grove wrote last week in The Chronicle that she’s fired back up her sewing machine for a second round of robust mask-making – an acknowledgement of the hard truth that we are not done with this virus yet.
While we were bummed at the idea of not being able to see everyone for another year and officially tying the knot, the thought of our wedding being a potential super-spreader event is unconscionable, and last week, we officially pushed our wedding to June 2022.
We’re not alone. Lyndsey is also in the same boat. She lives in Portland now with her fiance, Rob, and is still a fellow newspaperwoman herself – a news coordinator at The Columbian. She’s postponed her May wedding to September, and is banking on some semblance of better days by then.
It took a few weeks of mentally wrestling with a postponement, despite it now being the obvious answer. When I took the emotion out of it all, all that remained was the science, the truth, and the individual responsibility to do my part to help squash this thing.
Sometimes the right decisions can be the hardest to make.
Erin Tierney is executive editor of The Chronicle.