Wednesday, May 1, 2013

If I were a bell.

May 1, 2004

"If I were a bell
baby, I would ring from the hilltops  
Ring from each and every mountainside
Yes, if I were a bell
baby, I would ring through every valley  
Tell the whole world 'bout 
these tears of joy I cry. . ."

~ Tina Marie

May 1, 2013

 "Ask me how do I feel
Ask me now that we're cozy and clinging
Well sir, all I can say, is if I were a bell I'd be ringing!

From the moment we kissed tonight
That's the way I've just gotta behave
Boy, if I were a lamp I'd light
And If I were a banner I'd wave!"

~ from the Broadway show "Guys and Dolls"

Yeah. That. What both of those versions of "If I were a bell" said. The Tina Marie late night slow jams version and the perky "Guys and Dolls" one. No, people. I am not a bell. But even though I'm not, can I please just ring for a minute? Don't mind if I do. . . .

It's our anniversary, y'all. Or as Isaiah calls it, "The day our family was born." Feeling kind of rambly and random. . .so forgive me in advance for wherever this is going because your guess is as good as mine. . . .

Oh. And here's a disclaimer for those new to this blog: I talk about all kinds of stuff. Patient care, medical education, clinical stuff, yes. But also I talk about my life outside of Grady Hospital because that part of me has everything to do with the person I am inside of Grady Hospital. And that always includes effusive shout outs to the BHE (the Best Husband EVAAAAH. That is, my BHE. Yours can be your BHE--I'm cool with that.)

Ahem. Let's start, shall we?

Nine years ago today, I had the great fortune of exchanging vows with The BHE in front of a room filled with many of our favorite people. We laughed and danced and . . .uhh. . .imbibed until the wee hours of the morning. And you know what? It was awesome. Just awesome, I tell you.

with my med school classmate and dear friend, Jada

First of all, the energy that day just felt . . .right. I mean, everyone was smiling and just walking on clouds. Everyone. Not just the two of us, but all of our friends and family, too. That added to the special. It truly did.

Just like the college days. . .

I remember that when I woke up on May 1, 2004, it was raining. Hard. My bridal attendants and I braved that weather to go to -- of course -- the hair salon (and yes, it was my dear, dear Sakinah back then, too.) Anyways. There is no point in telling you that other than to say that even though it was rainy and yucky, our spirits were like sparkling blue skies. Sakinah and Yandi (stylists in the salon) had brought us champagne and snacks -- and they even picked up those little plastic flutes so that we could make toasts under the dryer. And I recall that part making me very happy. Even if it was raining.

I trusted Sakinah with my hair on that day, too. And my veil.

The wedding was indoors, but our cocktail hour was scheduled to be in the outdoor garden. It was obvious that this wouldn't happen with the way the sky was pouring that morning. And, you know? I remember not even really being worried about it. I was just so damn happy to be marrying Mr. Harry Manning, that none of that even mattered. I mean it. It did not.

That reminds me.

I also recall the florist saying to me, "What are your colors?" And me saying, "I don't have any colors really." And he said back, "So what color flowers should I get?" And I said, "Pretty ones that make you feel happy inside when you see them." I sure did. Okay, I did say that I didn't necessarily want a pink and green combination, partly because I am a Delta girl (and pink-and-green-together is kind of the antithesis of that) but also because I kind of find that the whole Lily Pulitzer pinky-greeny combination makes me sort of throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Just a little bit.

Linesisters-turned-bridal attendants, Joy and Ebony

Oh. What else? I also picked this fabric that came in like a gabillion different dress styles for the bridal attendants. Then I told them to pick the one that made them feel the most beautiful. Which they did. And I felt good about not asking my beautifully fuller-figured attendants to wear an identical dress to the more petite of the group. Because that's just wrong, man.

It is. And the whole "everybody wear your hair up" or "everybody must wear amethysts" or whatever? Man, please. The theme was "happiness." Wear what you feel good in. If that's red lipstick, cool. If it's a green manicure, cool. I would've even accepted a pink-and-green-Lily-gaggy-Pulitzer manicure/pedicure combination if it made you feel beautiful.

Mmmm hmmm.

My sissy, Deanna, calmed me that day when I got jittery

So yeah. Everyone seemed like they felt beautiful and I recall looking at myself in the mirror and feeling that way about my reflection. I even said to me, "You look beautiful." Because I knew that I was marrying the love of my life and knowing you're blessed and being happy makes you beautiful.

At least, that's what I think.


These made me happy when I saw them.

That day was raining cats and dogs, yes, but still awesome. Nobody was gonna rain on my parade. Not even Mother Nature herself. And damn if those flowers didn't make me happy when I saw them and you better believe that I told Adam, the florist, that he got it exactly right. Because he did. He totally did.

I took my daddy's arm and he walked me straight down that aisle to promise God and promise Harry that I would be down with him like four flat tires for the long haul. And nobody had to twist my arm to do it. No they did not.

Then we jumped that broom (literally) and skipped out of that room and straight out toward the doors leading to that garden. And, I kid you not, it was as if God himself told every last cloud and every last raindrop to go on break. That sky was bluer than Frank Sinatra's and Paul Newman's eyes put together and there was not a cloud in sight. In sight! So my husband and I strolled around that garden holding hands and making all sorts of plans and that part was really, really great, too. Damn, it was.

We took a few pictures and returned inside where our friends were both in high spirits and drinking a few spirits to boot. Yes. That bar was wide open, which was the single thing Harry suggested when we planned our wedding. And no, the BHE is not a big drinker, but he said very plainly, "Grown folks like to have a few drinks when they celebrate."

So there you go.

 Maaaan, celebrate? Did we celebrate? Maaaaan, whatchoo talkin' bout, Willis?

We shook a tail feather and our groove thangs. The DJ pumped old school R&B/soul groups like Shalimar and DeBarge mixed with some Luther, Rick James and Tina Marie--WHAT? Yes. DeBarge. As in "Ooooh, and I like it" which y'all pre-Thriller babies probably don't know NOTHIN' about. Mmmm hmmm. And the best part was that everybody knew every word to those songs. They sure did. That whole party included a whoooole bunch of synchronous sing-a-longs.

Like this one, which I promise you, no less than 200 people sang in crazy partially-inebriated campfire-karaoke style:

Bananas, man. Y'all pre-Thriller chil'ren don't know NOTHIN' 'bout this here! That's back when you pushed record on your tape deck to get your favorite jam off of the top eight at eight. Seriously? Seriously, people.

If you are snapping very loudly and know the words to this song, you are:

a.) African-American and born in the 70's or before
b.) Old
c.) a and b
d.) Married to, related to, or raised with a and b.

Mmmm hmmm.

We did Soul Train lines and Harry and his Omega fraternity brothers even "set out a hop." Which, if you don't know what that is, involved a bunch of grown men jumping, chanting, and stomping in unison -- and in black tie. For me, that was cool because what it mostly meant was that nobody was taking themselves too seriously. And I like that in a wedding.

Maaan, look. I know it was our wedding, but I kid you not--it was one of the best parties EVER. (Please, one of you guys who was there cosign for me.)

Someone told me to take a moment to look around the room that day. To pay attention and feel the love of all of those people because the likelihood of the two of us ever having that many of our favorite people together at the same time in one room for a celebration and not a funeral in our lifetimes would be pretty much zero. And I took that advice and will always, always be glad that I did.

There are so many people who were there that day that are since gone. Like my sweet sissy, Deanna, who stood right by me as a bridesmaid. Like my daddy's baby sissy, Auntie Liz, who went home to be with the Lord last year. Even baby C.J. was there--he was but a tiny peanut in my sisterfriend Davina's womb-- but he was there. You know what? That florist who picked those flowers that made me happy when I saw them? He passed away shortly after our wedding. So when I look at his cheerful arrangements and also room decor on pictures, that brings him to life and makes me smile. Yeah. There was also Cousin Pete who, along with his wife Anne, won the anniversary dance. Yep. I paid attention to it all and can see it in high definition so I remember.

Sure can.

Anniversary dance, you ask? Oh. That. It always mortified me when I was single at weddings and in a pack of rabid women trying to catch a bouquet. Once I hit thirty, I vowed that, should God ever be so kind as to hook me up with a husband, I would never-no-not-ever make my single friends go through that. It's cute at twenty. Not so cute at thirty five. So, yeah. Instead I did the anniversary dance that, I think, I'd read about in a magazine somewhere. Essentially all of the married and damn-near-married folks get on the dance floor and they get eliminated based upon how long they've been together. The last couple on the floor (which by the rules of the dance are the ones with the longest romance) wins and gets the garter and bouquet.

No bouquet toss. No creepy garter-grab to Marvin Gaye's "Let's get it on" in front of everyone and their grandmama, either. And no, I am not as icked out by the garter thing but it just wasn't for us. So we didn't do it. Nope. 

What else? Oh. I gave my "real" bouquet to my grandmother and my "tossing" bouquet to the anniversary dance winners. And can I tell you that I had no idea that there was a such thing as a "tossing bouquet" until then? Who knew? Not me. But dear Adam-the-florist (who I told to get flowers that made him happy) did know. So there you go.

We got a ridiculous room rate at the Westin (where we married) and LIT-TRALLY, like our whoooole guest list got rooms. Seriously. We are glad they did because right after we came in from the cocktail hour, it was a monsoon outside. Also since most of them were a wee bit over the limit to drive anywhere other than up the elevator shaft to a room. Mmmmm hmmm. That reminds me -- Harry made one other planning suggestion: No "end time" on the reception. Yeah. So it was kind of like a rave party. But, you know, without all those illicit substances and stuff.

Mmm hmmm.

So my point? Look, there isn't one really. I loved my wedding day immensely. I did. And right now I am sitting in my kitchen typing this on my anniversary. No. We aren't at some upscale restaurant tonight and no, we aren't surprising each other with diamonds. (Although I'd never reject any should something change.) Tonight we are just doing the things ordinary and happy families do. Like homework and dishes and putting drops into itchy eyes after school. And all of that is great to me because I can still recall a time where I would have given anything in the whole world for an ordinary, happy family of my own with a husband and kids and a boring kitchen table full of half done homework.


Sure, we'll celebrate properly at some point, but if we don't, it's cool. It is. Because nine years to the day after marrying my husband, I love him exponentially more than I did then. For different reasons and on a different level. I find him more attractive now than I did then and I would have married that dude on the back porch with pollen and carpenter bees as our witnesses. I sure would have.

You know? He's just an effing prince of a man. And yes, I debated not putting that near f-bomb there but I just can't find a more emphatic adjective for it. I love that man. I love him in ways that I didn't know it was possible to love someone. He makes me better. He makes me happy. He makes me laugh. He makes me want to shout from the roof tops. He makes me want to ring like a bell, man. 

And let's just be clear. I am NOT a bell. But, dammit, if I was? I'd be ringing like a mo-fo. Do you hear me? Ringing. Ringing like a clock striking twelve or one of those old school rotary telephones. Ringing like somebody's ears at a gun range, man. Ringing like the cash register at Toys R Us on Christmas eve. RINGING. But I'm not a bell, so tonight, this is as close as I can get to it.

I am a married woman who is in love with her husband. And he loves me back. It might sound simple but it's not a given and I know it isn't. So I pay attention and let myself feel acutely glad for every second of it.

I am at ease and myself and at my best in his presence. I am. I don't wish to be someone else or feel conflicted about where we stand--I don't.  I am so, so thankful for these 3,285 days we've had as husband and wife. Mostly, it's been easy. I'm grateful for that, too.

Yeah, man. I know. I'm rambling. But I have to ramble because I'm not a bell. And I've been married for nine years, y'all. That's something to ramble about.

Yeah, it is!

So shout out to Team Manning on the day our family was born. Shout out to husbands who get it and wives who get it, too. Shout out to real friends who stand by you and take a vow to keep your marriage strong right along with you. Shout out to grandparents who keep grandkids so that mommies and daddies can keep the flame hot with date nights. Shout out to the whole village and to every single person who has ever looked at either of us lovingly because that got us ready for each other. Sure did. Yeah. But especially, shout out to LOVE. Real, true, bona fide ordinary-on-a-Wednesday-night LOVE.

 Naaaah, man. I'm NOT a bell. But if I was? Right this second I'd go ding-dong-ding-dong-ding.

That's right. I said it.

Happy May Day. 9 to the good, baby!

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . many versions of "If I were a bell."

First, Tina Marie SANGS THE HECK out of this song, do you hear me? SANGS not sings. There is a difference. That's the soul-filled version of "If I were a bell." Totally original lyrics but the same point as the original Broadway one. I implore you to listen to it. Tina is singing LIVE. LIVE on old school BET Video Soul. And she KILLS it. RIP, Lady T! (Y'all youngsters don't know nothin' bout Lady T!)

Second, the tried and true version--you know. . . .the "Guys and Dolls" rendition. I listened to this song no less than twelve trillion times today; I love the jazz greats' takes on this bubbly song. Love it. But the problem is that my absolute FAVORITE version of this is by the incomparable Dinah Washington-- and I can't find it anywhere on YouTube. Bummer. So here is the next best thing, Ella Fitzgerald--who I also love. That said, unfortunately, this version just makes me badly wish you all could hear Dinah sing it. (Sorry, Ella.) Don't you hate when that happens? Kind of how I feel when I watch Glee. Ha ha ha.

Okay, okay. And just to make myself feel better, I must play the diva Dinah Washington herself--the very best jazz voice of all time--singing "What a difference a day makes." Because she does this song justice like no other. Even Nat King Cole. Yeah, I said it. Every time I listen to her on my real iPod, I constantly yell out, "YOU BETTA SING THAT SONG, DINAH!" Ha ha ha. . .not. even. kidding. Because Dinah was a BEAST, do you hear me? A complete BEAST with a microphone, man.


*(Picture me driving on I-20 while hollering that out repeatedly today for full effect. I also yelled the same thing about Tina Marie. Hee hee.)


  1. sooo lovely! can't write more because my eyes are all wet

    1. Awww! Thanks, Meredith! Those tears sound sweet. :)

  2. This is so beautiful. You are truly blessed! Your blog posts always bring a smile and sometimes a tear or two to my eyes. Happy Anniversary.

  3. Happy anniversary young loves - ring on!

  4. Jessie did the same thing you did with colors and flowers. Her bridesmaids did wear the same dress pattern but it was one they all liked and it was on major sale and they all wore different colors and glowed like jewels.
    Why have "colors" at all? Why have two colors when you can have ALL the colors?
    Your wedding looked joyful and your marriage is a testimony. Nine years- good beginning, sweetie, and in the blink of an eye, you'll remember being married nine years and realize you were still a newlywed.
    I am here to tell you.
    Anyway, congratulations and keep on doing it right. Keep on being appreciative of all the marvelous, mundane joys of the life y'all have made, the family you created. And thank you for sharing this part of your life. I mean it. I feel it. That joy.

    1. I so loved Jessie's wedding. You do realize that we were there, don't you? I was so inspired by the pictures of it that I dug out some of mine. And yes, I did peep those dresses and how relaxed it all was. I loved every second of those pictures. But I've told you that already.

      Yes, I know this 9 years is a blink on the radar. I hope we always feel like newlyweds. Thank you to you and Mr. Moon for setting a beautiful example of life well lived and love well loved as a married people. Thank you for sharing your life with me, too.

  5. Happy belated anniversary!!!!

  6. Happy Anniversary to a couple that believes in love and lives out that love in everything that they do. Even though I am divorced, I related to so many things that you said about your wedding day. And even divorced I am not bitter, my marriage was for a season, it served its purpose and now we are in love with being the best parents that we can be to our two beautiful kiddos. I hope you have a hot date night planned this weekend.

    1. Hey Jill! You never, ever seem bitter to me! Not ever! Thank you for always reading.

      BTdubs, I have a question for you. Shoot me an email if you get a second. Thanks! :)

  7. Tears to my eyes, girl. Everyone should have the kind of love that you and Harry (and me and my BHE!) have found. We are some lucky ladies! Happy anniversary <3

    1. We are sho nuff lucky, aren't we? I hope that sweet baby is doing well and that you and your BHE are taking time as hubby and wife. Hugs to you.

  8. Kim, I have my own BHE. We've been together for 30+ years, married for 26+ years, high school sweethearts. I'm very blessed (as are you) and during the last year throughout a lot of health issues and a cancer diagnosis for me, he's been my Best Husband Ever and my Best Friend in the Whole World. It always makes me smile to read about you and Harry, God Blessed you both.

    1. 26 years? Now THAT'S what I'm talking about. BHE and BFFs, too? Love. That. You're blessed, too. Thanks for this testimony, Nora. I'm feelin' it.

  9. Happy Anniversary Kimberly and the BHE! Blessings for many more! I'll be celebrating my 4th Anniversary on the 22nd!

    1. What's up, girlfriend? OMG, I was thinking of you when I was talking about pink and green! LOL! I said to myself, "I hope Kurly doesn't bust me out for saying 'Lily-gaggy-Pulitzer-pink-and-green'." LOLOL!

      Happy almost 4th anniversary. You and Harry know what's up -- Tuskegee spouses RULE. YAYUUUUUHHH!!!

    2. Oh Kimberly, I got so caught up in the Lovefest, I forgot how you clowned the Pink and Green! 'Lily-gaggy-Ulitzer-pink-and-green' was funny though lol.

  10. How beautiful! I felt like I was there celebrating with you! I was married 13 years ago and that's about all I remember. Although, I have been told it was one of the "best celebrations ever" I felt like someone was continuously spinning me around, I couldn't really take it all in and enjoy the moment. The advice you were given to "take the moment and look around the room" was priceless! Happy Anniversary Soror! ~Millicent

    1. What's up, Soror Mill! Girl, you know what else they told me to do? To quietly sit with Harry and eat my food before things go crazy. And we did. I was advised to sit and taste and enjoy that whole menu I agonized over and to also have my cake and EAT IT, too. I did all of that.

      I recommend all of that. The couple eats first, and they can talk about what just happened and the food. Yes! Then taking a moment to make a mental snapshot. Soooo key. I am so happy I did. I can still see Deanna sandwiching my hands between hers and telling me not to be jittery or nervous and that it was already perfect. :)

  11. Happy Anniversay, Kimberly and Harry! Here's wishing you many, many more happy years. We all partied like Rock Stars that night. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!❤

    1. Tounces, you're sooooo cute on these wedding pics. Loved your dress. :)

  12. Hi Team Manning! This was truly a beautiful post and it was filled with laughter, love, family, friends and so much more. To be honest it really gave me a glimmer of HOPE! Many Blessings!!!!


  13. This makes me so happy and excited to marry my BFE in a few short weeks! Thank you for reminding me to savor every moment of the day and to enjoy all that marriage brings.

    1. That's what's up, Tamarra!!! Make sure you also savor your FOOD, too--and your cake. And don't drink too much. I mean that. Save a little energy up for later so that you can seal the deal if you know what I mean. Hee hee. Just sayin'.

  14. Happy anniversary! What a great post -- thanks for sharing it. Parts of it were like a jazz riff, just rippling on out there. Family weddings with songs everyone knows are *so* fun. 9 years ago I was just about to have my daughter, who I can't *believe* is going to be nine next week.

    1. Awesome! Happy birthday to your sweet daughter, Laura! My Isaiah turns 8 on Monday. BANANAS.

  15. Happy Anniversary! You had me at Teena Marie! I've been a fan since wayyy back! Beautiful wedding, beautiful love, beautiful life. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to pull up my Best of Midnight Star on the IPOD now (and maybe I'll play TM's "Out on Limb" for the heck of it. I'm feeling a throwback coming on... Enjoy your day!

    1. Girrrrrl, what? Not "Out on a Limb!" Tina should have just dropped the mike and walked away after that song. For good. For ever. Because she ANNIHILATES that song. So about to listen to it TO-NIGHT.

      I, too, feel a major throwback coming on. I'm thinking I'll listen to some old school SWITCH. What you know about, "But I'm a man now, baby, a growwwwn man. . . " Bwah ha ha ha ha!

  16. Sigh. I love love! It was so amazing watching people so happy to share in our love on our day. I love that you guys look like you're having the BEST time! I love frat hops at weddings, too :) Ditto on the pink and green & not b/c I'm an SGRho lol. But the only color I didn't want at my wedding: ORANGE! Yikes! I also like that your husband has terrible handwriting because it reminds me of my own husband's scrawl and how I love seeing that handwriting addressed to me. :D Most of all, I love that you guys are still so so in love and show it to the world.

    1. Le sigh.

      That south paw sanskrit of his is a hot mess. Ha ha! But I love seeing it addressed to me, too! :)

      Hope you and anonymous gender peanut are doing well! :)

  17. hey kim!
    i miss you in a real and deep way. it seems like for-ever. i know you are here but it feels far- sorry for my part in that.
    so finally after 2 years, i'm coming home to visit this summer! i can't wait to sit and drink wine with you at murphys and hang on your porch b/c i don't have one anymore there.
    i love you!

  18. I look forward to this post in your blog every year. Happy Anniversary! This is exactly what I want in a marriage, if I ever get married that is. I can't find a BHE. I can't decide if I'm high maintenance or low tolerance. :)

    And yes, Teena Marie was awesome! R.I.P. Teena.

  19. Happy Anniversary Team Manning ! You give me hope during a particular personal rough patch. May GOD continue to bless and keep you.

    Maria, fellow Meharrian

  20. Glorius post!! Happy Anniversary to Team Manning. The Gates Team is going on 41 years!! woo hoo!!...

  21. Happy Anniversary! This was beautiful and it gives me hope that I'll one day find my BHE. Hope you celebrated this weekend. And great to see your son is also a Taurus. #taurusrules. ;-)

  22. From the deck of the poop,

    I loved the post and loved the memories. A happy happy day for the ole PoopDeck !!!

  23. Happy anniversary to one amazing couple. It is a wonderful thing indeed to be married to the man who inspires a post like THIS. Joy!

  24. Deanna always told me how y'all partied, and now I can see it in the pics!! Happy 9 years to you and your BHE! Lovely!

  25. The best time ever!!! We sang DeBarge until they heard us in California. I have never had this much FUN at a wedding! What a joy! Blessings to Team Manning as you guys grow in grace and grow older together!


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