Dum Dum Da Dum (imagine traditional wedding march music). It is June and for reasons I don’t understand, it is wedding season. This gets lots of folks very excited and into a mood of festivity. It’s particularly true for wedding planners, florists, caterers ($) and I suppose some brides, grooms and their families.
I reluctantly admit that I do not enjoy weddings, never have, probably never will. They rate right up there with funerals. I attend both only when it is what needs to happen.
Hang on, don’t go jumping to conclusions that I am anti-marriage or even anti-love because that isn’t true. When I observe a couple that is clearly in love and you can see it in the way they look at each other and how they respect one another, it warms my heart. When the couple has been together for many years it’s even more endearing because it is rare and special.
I am a person that can keep a secret and I am not overly judgmental. I suppose that is why lots of friends confide in me regarding the true state of their union (marriage). In my best estimate, 45% are not even in love, another 45% love their spouse but are seldom happy with him/her. The remaining 10% includes the people that squelch their urge to share their less joyous marriage details and those that are married to someone that brings more happiness than heart-ache into their life. That is rather depressing, no wonder so many people like to use social media to imply that they have successfully landed in a Utopian life. You know the ones.
For no other reason than it is that season, here is my wedding story. If you find yourself wanting to giggle, don’t hold back. Seriously, go ahead and cackle if you like. Like many stories, it wasn’t funny at that time but looking back now it is more like recalling a wrecked up version of a sappy Julia Roberts movie than to think it is part of my history.
The year was 1985. I was 23 and he was 24 and we were silly enough to believe that we were smarter than some of our friends that had married before they were old enough to have a legal drink or in some cases vote. We thought we were mature. Ha!
We were first introduced by a mutual friend that wanted to fix us up (I forgive you Joe). I quickly decided the man was an ignorant redneck and he pegged me as a stuck-up bitch. I know this because we laughed about our first impressions of each other while on our honeymoon. Ten years later, while we sat on our front porch discussing property settlements and child support we found that we had come full circle and each of us had returned to our first impression of the other.
Two nights before the big day my soon to be husband was partying with his best buddies and getting so drunk that he didn’t make it to the church the next afternoon to help set things up. The process included moving some very heavy pieces of furniture. Without help from him or his friends, it was up to my father and me to do. I was furious, but my dad talked me down and convinced me to let it slide. Why, I will never know since they had not previously met.
The night before the ceremony, in my apartment with my two best friends we watched the movie, Against All Odds. The movie was only semi-romantic but the song by the same name was the one I had cried to during the past three three years since the break-up with the man that I thought I was supposed to be with. It was my way of trying to finally let him go. He had clearly moved on long time ago as evidenced by his marriage and move to another country. I know, I know, go ahead and shout, How crazy! I should have realized that thinking that much about some other man the night before my wedding was a darn good indicator that it shouldn’t happen.
The next day I stood at the back of the small church clutching my father’s arm as I watched my niece drop flower petals from a basket as she made her way up the aisle. She was soon followed by bridesmaids. The vestibule was tiny, my back pressed against the door to allow them enough room to go around and not step on my dress or train.
The world was moving in fast forward and they were all suddenly at the front of the church. Just Dad and I remained and I was consumed with panic. The pianist lifted her hands to the keyboard and played the chords that told everyone to stand. I wanted to bolt out of the door and run! I think the only thing that stopped me was the fact that I had no car keys tucked into my blue garter belt and it would be another twelve years before I became a serious runner. Maybe Dad would have helped me escape but I wasn’t sure. Thought about how everyone would react swirled in my head making me queasy. Wasted time, wasted money… People had traveled, another friend and a volunteer pianist had spent time preparing the music. I had given up the lease on my apartment and my belongings were sitting in boxes at the apartment rented in both our names. The two second pause that precedes the brides descent down the aisle is sufficient for a thousand doubts but far too fleeting for proper consideration
A little voice in my head told me it was too late and my feet started moving me down the aisle.
We can never know the consequences of the choices we didn’t claim. I can say that I don’t fully regret the marriage, after all, six years later I gave birth to my son and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
Somewhere along my journey I stopped beating myself up for mistakes and wrong choices. We do the best we can based on our experiences and knowledge. To those that tell me they envy my single independent life they should know that it has it’s down side. I am seldom included in get togethers for couples and often holidays are spent alone. At times the silence is deafening. On the other hand, given the chance to trade places I wouldn’t. Despite past mistakes, even some that were completely foolish, I think that I am exactly where I am supposed to be on this day in this moment and my hope is that you are too.
Thanks for reading and as always please feel free to leave comments on this post and suggestions for future topics.
Thanks to the following for the use of their photographs; Christian Bowen, Dan Meyers, Dylan Nolte and Brook Cagle.