Honeymoon with My Brother
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
The runaway bride has checked herself into an inpatient medical treatment program. A spokesman for her family's church says Jennifer Wilbanks is reportedly dealing with physical and mental issues.
The Atlanta woman who hopped on a bus to Las Vegas days before her wedding captured the country's attention. A few years ago, our commentator Franz Wisner found himself in his own runaway bride situation. He was all set to get married and then everything fell apart.
For starters, my fiancee dumped me the week before our wedding. With some guests already en route, I decided to have the wedding anyway, just without the whole `I do' part. Instead, 75 friends and family members gathered for a tear fest, confidence boost, red wine bender. My younger brother, Kurt, was the first to give me a hug. His wife had left him a year before.
After the runaway bride weekend, my luck continued to sour. I was demoted at my job as an executive for a large real estate firm; the two loves of my life gone. Then I did something that surprised a few people, including me: I went on my scheduled honeymoon to Costa Rica. I canceled the honeymoon suites and chilled champagne and asked Kurt to join me. He agreed, but only after I promised I wouldn't carry him over any thresholds.
Before then, we saw each other only a couple days a year, usually around Christmas. We weren't close. After two weeks of cautious brotherly bonding and exploring the country, I told Kurt we should extend the honeymoon. He thought I meant for another couple of days. `No,' I said, `let's keep going.' So we did, for two years and 53 countries. We quit our jobs, sold our homes, cashed out our stocks, tossed our cell phones into the garbage and headed out for the world. It's not as hard or as expensive as you think, especially if you stick to countries where rooms cost only a few dollars a night.
So there we were, two brothers who barely knew each other, both dumped, trying to make sense of it all while traveling the globe on an extended honeymoon. We didn't make much progress at first. We did what brothers often do. We hashed out trivial subjects, sat silent for hours and we fought. Then we did something we hadn't done for decades: We talked. The unlimited time on the road gave us the chance to dig into each other's current state of mind. On a hike to Machu Picchu, I learned how tough it was for him to come to terms with his divorce, and how disappointed he was that I wasn't there to help, so disappointed he made sure he was the first to arrive at my failed wedding.
That night, I didn't sleep. I thought about the many miles and countries ahead and the conversations we'd need to have. But I started to believe that being left at the altar might not have been such a bad thing after all.
SIEGEL: Franz Wisner is the author of the recent book "Honeymoon With My Brother." He lives in Los Angeles.
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