I’m off on a much-needed vacation. First stop, Texas, to see my best male friend – the perpetual bachelor – get married. Second stop, Virginia, to visit some family. I’ll still try to write every day.
Needless to say, going to a wedding, and one that looks like it’s going to be an event (like mine was) has me thinking about weddings and marriage in general. In order to give myself a little more time to gather up those thoughts, and because I need to leave for the airport in an hour, for now I’m just going to excerpt from the post I wrote about my own wedding three years ago. It makes me sad to read some of these things, knowing how that story ended, but in an effort to stop running from those feelings and face my experiences head-on, here are some of my memories, as I recorded them just over a month after the event:
* Just after 6 a.m., I was in the shower in my parents’ room at the Biltmore. The water pressure was far from stellar, and I very consciously thought, “[Ex-husband] is going to hate this when he gets up in a few hours.” That, for me, was the defining moment, the reassurance that I was doing the right thing, because if I know him that well… For the rest of the morning, when people commented on how calm I seemed, I told that story. Upon hearing it, [ex-husband]’s sister got really happy and gave me a hug.
* My cousin Mark, who works the graveyard shift at Stop & Shop, had gotten seven white balloons and tied them to the mailbox of his parents’ house, to let people know that someone who lived there (oh, close enough) was getting married that day. He’d actually told me about this plan when he’d first picked us up from the airport ten days before, and when I asked about the tradition, since I’d never heard of it before, he’d said, “I dunno, that’s what they did for my wedding. I’m just trying to be nice.”
* Six-year-old Elena found Auntie Sandy’s house slippers (hot pink flip-flops with big fake flowers on them) and paraded around the house in them.
* Somewhere in the midst of all this, I ended up with a full set of hot rollers in my hair. When the rollers first came out, the girls all followed me around the house hooting that I looked like a country music star.
* We were 20 minutes late to the church, but did a quick huddle and cheered “10:30!” (the time on the day’s schedule when [ex-husband] and I were finally going to have sex for the first time) before going in. Monica grabbed my arm and attention long enough to say, “I love you, Marie.” I didn’t say it back because I would’ve cried.
* I felt like a starlet walking down the aisle, with familiar faces blending into paparazzi behind their cameras. I couldn’t see [ex-husband], who’d been instructed to stand off to the side, until I was almost at the altar.
* [Great Love #3] winked at me as [ex-husband] and I were on our way up the aisle. I mouthed “hi” and gave him one of my best smiles. He would then spend the rest of the day quietly out of the way, so as not to upset anyone. I approached him at the end of the night to thank him for coming and give him a hug, and I found out later he’d approached and congratulated [ex-husband] at some point when I wasn’t around.
* We took a horse-taxi from the church to the Biltmore, and on the way, everyone we passed called out “Congratulations!”, except for some hippies sitting on the side of the road, who instead yelled, “Free the horses! Animal abuse!”
* Scott and Steven, the two fabulous gays in charge of catering at the Biltmore, met us with champagne at the door to the hotel. We then went up to our private cocktail reception, where I immediately grabbed a glass of the sangria I’d requested. All the girls started freaking out about red-wine-white-dress, but I didn’t care as I double-fisted my delicious sangria and my champagne while they bustled my dress. It was the only real drinking I would do all night.
* Our first dance went perfectly. And by perfectly, I mean that I caught my train on my heel early on, thus undoing the entire bustle, so that I spent the first half of the dance trying not to trip, then gave up and picked up the train, and we danced through all of it, never missing a step. I was so frickin’ pleased. My dad later admitted to my friend Evan, whose parents had been our dance instructors in LA, that the only time he cried all day was during that dance; and Beth, the one-time biggest critic of having a “choreographed number”, asked if we could teach it to her for her upcoming wedding in October.
* I blew two-handed kisses at everyone who gave a speech, and thought this was very cute and bride-like of me.
* Carrie and Ava, my two maids of honor, came to the bathroom with me and held my skirt so I could pee.
* We enlisted [the friend who’s getting married tomorrow] to be our bouncer so we could eat something – people had been approaching us during the first two courses, and we wanted to actually eat our main dish. There was a little too much pepper on my vegetarian selection (we’d never tried it). [Ex-husband] made me pause and look around at the 110 people, all of whom seemed to be having a genuinely good time, and marvel that they were all there for us.
* I finally almost cried while I was dancing with my dad.
* Just after 10:30 (we’d been running late all day), there was this great medieval-style send-off, with everyone following us to the elevators. Carrie snapped a picture just as the elevator door was closing. I hope it came out well.
* Sex was awkward and, of course, painful. But we adopted that good old mantra, the Christians’ answer to people’s protests about no sex before marriage: “If it doesn’t work the first time, we’ll do it again!” (Now, six weeks later, we’re still working on perfecting it, but there have been some good moments, mostly on the honeymoon, since I’ll admit we’ve been way too busy since then to be having a lot of sex.)
There were more “snapshots” than that in the original post, but I think these capture the essence. I felt like I was performing on my wedding day, like it wasn’t really me up there, but some fakey-bride-person, and I’m still not sure how much of it I even enjoyed. At the time I thought that was just how weddings are – and I still think that’s true to some extent, from what I’ve heard from friends who’ve gotten married and stayed that way – but I also feel like I should have known that this was a metaphor for my entire relationship with my ex: the performance feeling, the fact that other people (Great Love #3, Monica, my dad) were having a bigger impact on me emotionally than my own husband was. Oh, and the bad sex.
Sigh. Lesson’s learned, hopefully, and now I’m off to see what promises to be a similar spectacle from the other side.