Saturday, June 03, 2006

Gown and flowers and cake and guests and ...

I love wedding shows. It’s a “21 Day Wedding Party” on the Style Network, and I couldn’t be more pleased. For some reason, watching people plan, cry and stress over extravagant affairs pleases me. All that money, time, effort for a single day – a large, special party to celebrate your joy in finding your partner. It’s neat, I think. Because despite all the tears and tantrums, people tend to wind up being happy. Amidst family and friends, feeling done with their search for that person to go home to and with. Love it.

On a personal level though? Not for me. I remember talking about weddings in my last relationship. I so desperately wanted it to work, though I knew it just wasn’t right, but it’s ever so tempting to just call it good and be done, isn’t it? Thinking about dating again, being alone, not having someone to call at the end of a bad day, nobody to laugh at my jokes that aren’t all that funny… It made me shudder even then. I was right, by the way. Being alone isn’t all that great. But that’s not really the point (of this post – we’ll get back it it soon, I’m sure).

Anyway, we were sitting on my couch, watching football one Sunday after I’d cooked dinner. Drinking water rather than wine – he didn’t enjoy alcohol and while I can’t say I’m at all a heavy drinker, I sighed over his complete lack of interest. He was just so good. He took my Sunday School teaching and raised me working and traveling with the youth group. And leading a Bible study, serving on boards, socializing with friends from his congregation. But he wasn’t condescending or sanctimonious – he just lived what he believed. And I’ll admit that my heart tugged a bit when Mom asked about him the other day. Damn it all.

I keep getting side tracked – that’s what I get for trying to write when I should be completing my presentation for work. Ryan and I – for some unknown reason – were discussing weddings. He asked how big I thought our ceremony would be, and I quickly told him it should be small and elegant.

“My cousin’s wedding was the first I remember attending.” I began my story and he shifted his shoulders more comfortably to settle in. He knew my stories tend to take some time, so he nodded and smiled. “I helped her get ready. She was so beautiful…”

“Oldest cousin?” He confirmed her name, and I rewarded him with a smile of my own.

“Yes. She walked down the aisle in this gorgeous church.” I pictured it in my mind – tall, narrow windows letting in the gray light of a rainy morning. Marble floors and altar, shiny wooden pews – a vast majority of them empty. A scattering of white flowers, a single attendant for the bride and groom - so young, happy and hopeful. They spoke softly, yet we all could hear them in the quiet sanctuary.

“I think we only filled 2 rows on each side,” I told Ryan. “Just family, maybe a couple of very close friends. After the ceremony ended, they stayed on the altar and invited us all up for photos.”

“The reception?” He asked.

“We went to a restaurant – a really nice place.” I frowned, trying to remember. “We ordered from the menu, and Oldest Cousin and her new husband worked their way around the room while we had drinks and appetizers, then we all talked throughout dinner and dessert. It was lovely. Intimate – if you were there, you knew they really valued your presence. Took pictures with you, talked to you. I felt special just being part of their day. I’d want people to feel like that at my wedding.” I dreamed, picturing such an event and trying to force my mind to accept Ryan at my side. I frowned when it didn’t feel right.

“How big do you want your wedding?” I asked him to distract myself.

“It depends on where we’d be.” He answered. “If we were out where my parents live, I’d have a ton of family nearby. So even if we restricted it to people who were related, it’d be big.”

I nodded. “That’s nice though – thinking about a big family wedding.”

“Probably around 150 people on my side.” He mused and I bit back a curse. I never swore in front of him. I went with "wow." instead.

“So from the look on your face, I can assume we won’t be getting married out west.” He smiled, patted my arm, and I laughed easily.

The problem, I decided as I got ready for bed that night, wasn’t that we saw the ideal wedding size differently. I wanted to be desperately in love – to think back on a romantic courtship, know that someone thought I was nothing short of exquisite. Wanted to smile over at him as the people we loved most watched lovingly. Wanted to feel sexy, I thought wistfully. But safe, I added, considering what I currently had in my relationship. I shook my head, finished brushing my teeth and went to bed, cuddling into nobody except my dog, and was grateful I had time to figure this stuff out.

Ryan and I didn’t work, obviously. I miss him sometimes – the easy friendship, good conversation, the comfort of knowing someone pretty well. I wonder if I passed on something – someone – pretty amazing in hopes that I could do just a bit better. It comforts me as I watch these couples plan and execute lavish weddings on television to think of Ryan finding someone who wanted to show him off to 150 of her relatives. Thinking of them celebrating with a crowd of people, both of them grateful that I moved on so they could find each other - it makes me smile.

As for me? I’m despairing over having another date lately, let alone planning a wedding. For whatever reason though, I find watching other people plan their big days is an excellent method of procrastination. The only downside - other than feeling lonely, of course - is that I'm now craving cake.


JustMe said...

i'm glad you didn't settle for ryan, b/c i think you're right. it should be a desperately in love situation...

and i understand your watching the wedding shows, i do to! though maybe in a different way ;o) i think about how i don't want my wedding gigantic and i inevitably end up craving a relationship instead of cake

post-doc said...

I'm all about the cake. I so wish I had a piece of wedding cake right now...

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