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Ten years ago today, I was getting married in a beautiful garden at a fancy resort. Probably at the very moment you’re reading this, I was either saying “I do” or hoping the mockingbird would pipe down or wishing my new step-son would look up or regretting that I’d forgotten about that glass-crushing part in my hurry to hustle down the aisle with my new husband so the party could begin. I mean, it wasn’t me who was Jewish, and the glass was wrapped up in cloth so I couldn’t see it. I don’t blame myself for that part.
I try to think of funny things that happened that day. I remember that my hair was dirty because my hairdresser had told me to show up with manageable and workable hair. The only way I could get it that way was to leave it unwashed, so I figured the more unwashed, the better. My hair was very shiny on my wedding day because it was greasy. The truth comes out…
Embarrassing can be funny, so I go with that thought. Apparently my dress had not been altered correctly, or perhaps we’d been eating too much spaghetti in the months before, because a spaghetti strap broke on my dress and my twins joined the reception. They were a welcome addition since my maid of honor had slunk away, back to her room, disinterested and uncompelled. Maid-of-honorless, I retreated to a back room with my resort-appointed servant who stitched up my strap and sent me back into the fray with a new glass of wine. As if I needed that…
We had worked hard to make sure that our family and friends were comfortable and honored and drunkity drunk drunk drunk. Some took more advantage of the open bar than others; if this rings a bell, honk. But beyond that, I regret missing the Hokey Pokey dance because of my broken strap—I hear it was the best part up to then. When I came back, I found my mother standing outside this beautiful venue, these beautiful buildings and gardens, smoking in the parking lot.
“Mom!” I howled. “You’re missing the longest married couples dance! You should be in there dancing with Dad!”
We walked back in together to find my oldest sister dancing with Dad, in place of my mom. We blanched and turned our stony faces into smiley ones. Such good Midwesterners…
There was one of my best girlfriends sucking on a chocolate-covered strawberry for the camera. There was my orange father-in-law, oddly colored by the sun in Florida. There was one of my loosey-goosey sisters, changed out of her bridesmaid dress into go-go boots and a fringed black top. Thanks a lot. Now everyone will think I’m a redneck too, my secret revealed.
Everyone would agree that the really best part of our wedding was the best man, my new husband’s twelve-year-old son. He stuck to his dad’s side like glue, doing the hokey-pokey with his grandma in a big circle (which I missed because I was fiddling with my dress strap). He read his own tribute to our new marriage, written out by his mom on a recipe card. I was there for that, and while it was touching and promising and made everyone cry, it wasn’t funny.
It was heartbreaking.
The most fun I had on my wedding day was when I danced with my father. He likes to push a willing woman across a dance floor, spinning her and dipping her, working up a sweat. My dad can waltz, two-step and give lessons in both all during one song, one spin around the dance floor. “I’m leading!” he would shout, picking me up and landing me on my feet somewhere else. “You’re following,” he would say. Give my dad a little alcohol and some Willie Nelson and he is on the road again, taking you with him.
When the night was over—my parents safe in their hotel room, my sisters safe in theirs—I walked back to my luxury casita alone. I slipped out of the dress and into the big fresh bed, such heavy covers for a mild night in March, but still, just right. My new husband lay cuddled with his son on a cot in the family area of our room. That’s how my wedding day ended, and I didn’t think I minded.
Today—ten years later—I filled my time with regular chores and errands. I made some phone calls so I would get some back. So much loneliness happens after you have to give up. You need to work your way back.
I wouldn’t have imagined, ten years ago, that I would be writing this. I thought I would be ensconced in true love, safe love, and that would be the end of the story.
But I’m more human now than I was back then. As I sit here, I wear the healing bracelet that I had given to an old friend, a memento her family gave back to me when she died. That’s not funny… Earlier in the day, I had a heartening conversation with the girls at the Oreck store, where I had gone to redeem a coupon. We spoke of Botox and other ways to keep pretty. Not really funny if you end up bruised… Because another pipe burst in my back yard this morning, I also had to call Noah, of Noah’s Ark Landscaping. He’s the world’s caretaker, if you didn’t know.
This man, a sunny outdoorsy guy--obviously not any kind of husband I was familiar with--decided to trim one of my trees for free.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because it needs it. The tree will grow better. It’s called rejuvenation cutting,” he said. “Watch.”
I watched as Noah hacked down the old growth to let the new but tiny growth shine through, all green and young. I tried to furrow my Botoxed brow.
“No worries!” said Noah. “It’ll grow back stronger.” Then he barked out, “I’d like to take you out for the biggest margarita they make!”
I imagined the biggest margarita ever and only saw trouble. I accepted on the spot.
A friend wrote to me the other day with news of family duress; I asked what I could do. “More funny!” she said. I wracked my brain for funny; this is all I could come up with. Pearls returned, diamonds in the drawer, relationships severed, this is what I offer for a perk-up.
Good old dependable me.