shacktown

 

The story, as told by Chris, is that when I came into Tastee Freeze for the first time when he was working with my little sister, he knew then and there that I was a nerd. He claims I was wearing glasses and was reading a book. The glasses part is true; I had definitely "failed" an eye examine so that I could get a pair, and thus make myself seem more intellectual. As for the book, I don't quite believe him because, although I wouldn't put it past fifteen-year-old Rachel to carry around a tattered copy of East of Eden, I've always taken my ice cream eating pretty seriously. I feel I would have focused on the task at hand rather than get too distracted with prose or poetry.

Chris was working with my sister Molly; he flipped burgers, she made milkshakes, and they became unlikely friends. And their friendship grew to envelop my sister Claire. For seventeen years he was held fast in their lives, and mine too. For Molly's fifteenth birthday, Chris and I surprised her with tickets to go see Outkast and Ludacris, with special guest Slimm Calhoun. He was a bridesman in my sister Claire's wedding. When Tom first moved to Chesapeake Beach and needed a roommate, Chris moved in with him, and six months later, after Tom and I got married, I moved in too. For a short time the four of us (Chris, Tom, Sena, and I) lived together in that little cottage on the bay, occasionally get yelled at by the neighbor for playing beer pong too late into the night.

A few years ago Chris started dating Brittney. I know that every speech at every wedding claims that people knew that this relationship was different, that this was the real deal. And so I'm hesitant to make that claim. But it's true. It was clearly different. Brittney had twin babies, and Chris had clearly fallen for them as he fell for her. 

We always used to tease Chris because he would show up wearing ridiculous coordinating outfits; like a bright orange tracksuit with matching shoes and a visor. And he would proudly declare he had gotten the whole thing for 26.50 from Wal-Mart. He's always liked a good deal. 

Chris knew a good deal when he saw one: beautiful, loving wife plus a son and daughter in one fell swoop? He signed up. In a few weeks, they're getting married and making the whole thing official.

They've made a solid life with each other already. They are raising those kids wild and free, but with a healthy dose of manners. Instead of doing typical engagement pictures, they decide for an engagement/ family hybrid in a little spot on the bay I had never before explored, which is arguably my favorite spot I've ever photographed. It's a cluster of summer cottages rented by the year to people who come every weekend to revel by the shore. It's brackish magic.