This is the part where we start getting married and enjoying proper cocktails

It's been a good week here in North Carolina. It happens to be summertime. In February. The high today is expected to reach 70. At first I was dismayed at our lack of a winter (especially because of the cute, blue coat I got for Christmas, which is overkill when it's, you know, 70 degrees) but now I'm ready for spring and then summer, two glorious seasons in the sweet-tea-drinking, flip-flops-are-ok-for-work! South. J and I celebrated the summer holiday of Valentine's Day Tuesday by giving each other little presents and making fondue. Oh, and did I mention that we also celebrated by cleaning up cat puke? Right. We also celebrated with me getting down on my hands and knees and scrubbing up a copious amount of cat puke. No more wet food for Teddy. Luckily, bread and wine-infused cheese, and also wine in a glass, helps quell the occasional stressful situation and we had a wonderful night making dinner and watching cable. Cable that we will never, ever turn off. Remember when I said getting cable wouldn't mean we watched more television? Sure.

Another reason this week has been exciting is our upcoming trip to New York City. My great friend Cate is getting married this weekend to wonderful Brady (who, by the way, has cowboy boots with owls on them and little does he know I'm going to steal the owl boots while he's distracted getting married).

Cate and I met in tenth grade at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes school ("where tradition, pride and honor rule.") She is one of the very amazing people who made my high school experience such a happy period in my life. While others like to sigh and shrug, complaining that high school was about as much fun as a root canal, we hoot and holler about the time we wrote silly poems on notebook paper, taped them up in my locker, and then tore them all down two minutes before the deadline for that month's issue of "Fire and Stones," our high school's literary magazine, and submitted them all. On notebook paper. With little scraps of tape attached.

Or about how our friend Jennifer started a safe sex education club and we hosted a concert in the cafeteria featuring the world famous rock group Ordervish and we gave out free condoms.

Or the time we were drinking at my house and decided we should make some - what else? Amaretto and milk. High schoolers are experts when it comes to mixing drinks! We took the entire gallon of milk from the refrigerator and when my mother asked what we were doing with it, we quickly (and brilliantly) explained that we needed the milk because Cate was lactose intolerant. Then - wait! That didn't make sense, we realized. "She's calcium deficient," we reasoned wisely.

All the times we went skinnydipping in the Rotondaro pool. The fact that we announced this to the entire graduating class and our parents during our senior year when the school put on a little get-together to make us all cry, or whatever. Parents and children wrote anonymous notes to one another and then these notes were read out loud to everyone in attendance. "I love you guys and will miss you and will make you so proud." "Thank you for making me the person I am today." "We swim naked."

Besides providing the pool, I was also able to impart a valuable skill upon my dear friends - the ability to drive stick shift. Since that's what my parents had to give me, that's what I learned on and decided it would be fun for everyone else to learn, too. Cate was a particularly apt student, venturing out on the real roads far before the others, exhibiting courage and dexterity. I remember driving up the one bumpy, historic and impractical road in Old Town, Alexandria and Cate wondering just how the hell she was going to parallel park on a hill, on a historically bumpy street. I remember being pulled over by the cops one night after Cate had peeled down a roadway when giving the car a little too much gas. Needless to say, they thought we were drunk. Of course, we weren't. We had our limits. We were just learning how to drive stick, we explained.

When our friend Martha got married several years ago, Cate caught the bouquet during the reception. Yeah, some of you are saying, why don't you tell more of that story. Why don't you explain how some people fell hard on their ass while trying to catch that bouquet? May I remind you that this post is not about me, it's about Cate.

Cate gave me the bouquet sometime after the wedding was over, after we'd all gotten over our white wine hangovers. She explained that since I was obviously the one who'd be getting married next she wanted me to have it. Things changed, of course, and I ended up with Justin (and actually did end up getting married next) but I kept the bouquet as it dried and aged - not for some stupid reason concerning boys or romance, but because Cate gave it to me.

Because I've been secretly in love with her for all these years.

I'm kidding. I may not be in love with Cate, but I do love her like I love all my friends from high school, some of whom I'll get to see this weekend. And that makes this week great. And Cate's getting married! She's getting married to a wonderful boy and I couldn't be any happier.

But just know, Swinburn, that when you're up there all gorgeous and I start to feel emotional, I can always recall that I've seen what's under that wedding dress. In a pool, while we were all young and carefree and drunk. On amaretto and milk.