Tomorrow, March 8th, would have been my wedding day.
I say my because that’s what our One Day Wedding was — the event we asked family and friends to “save the date” for wasn’t our wedding, it was my chance to have that elusive happy ending I’d been searching for long before I met Roberto. It was my moment of public affirmation that I was worthy of love and partnership. My chance to prove to that nebulous cloud of They that I was a good person leading a good life with a good man in a good place.
I think the way I imagined things going down, we’d all be running through the Chiapanecan highlands Sound of Music style, laughing and singing Do Re Mi while wearing matching outfits. For months, I fell asleep to a fantasy slide show of snapshots from our reception — heads thrown back in laughter, huddled up on the dance floor, hugging and whispering our I Love Yous.
The problem was, I wasn’t imagining my groom.
In my dissonant Sound of Music wedding fantasy, I don’t marry Roberto — I marry Them. I didn’t want the wedding as much as I wanted all the stuff that we’re told comes with it — those tender Father of the Bride/Love Actually/Mamma Mia! moments where “everyone” is there and loving each other and having funny hijinx that end in long awaited reconciliation. Then, at the end, Roberto and I sail off on a little boat into a sea of bliss with “everyone” waving hankerchiefs at us as fireworks erupt in the background. Something like that.
As our One Day Wedding drew nearer, that fantasy began to distort — like a fun house mirror — and I panicked. I kept waiting for those tender moments to happen, waiting to find myself standing in a room of my aunts and sisters and miscellaneous other giggling extras wearing a white dress and wiping our tears. Waiting to feel those bridal butterflies they tell us about, to look at Roberto with doe eyes and see the most perfect man in the whole wide world, to blush and coo and shriek that my day was coming.
But that’s not what happened. Because that’s not real. That’s not a wedding, that’s a Rachel McAdams movie.
Behind the scenes, the pain I thought my wedding would fix can’t be resolved in 90 minutes. Or one day. Or maybe at all. I wanted to believe that as soon as I put on that white dress, all the darkness of my past would be lifted and They would see me as a beautiful, blushing bride, not the reckless “prodigal daughter” who ran away to Mexico and marred the family name. I thought if I had a big wedding that followed all he rules, maybe They would see me like Roberto does. All the while I wasn’t even looking at him.
I’d like to say that The One Year Wedding was born out of Roberto’s and my sheer creativity and lovesick joy. But, in the unedited not-for-TV version, it was the unexpected twist in a story that was almost not worth reading. I got my long awaited reconciliation, alright — with the one person I had left out of the fun house fantasy, my partner. Before I awoke from my fever dream, I wasn’t looking at Roberto with doe eyes — or any eyes at all — in my wedding, there was hardly any room for him. It was as though I was waiting for “everyone else” to show up before I could see him clearly. And now I am looking at him head on, not with doe eyes, but with eyes focused on our life together, regardless of whether or not They approve.
The One Year Wedding was a chance to get the we back.
In the unedited not-for-TV ending of this story, there is no ending. No rolling credits or boats to bliss. Tomorrow, on what would have been my wedding day, Roberto and I will marry each other instead — for the 63rd time. The we is back, baby. And we are writing this story together. Page by page. Day by day.
Do I still wish They were here to see it? Yes. But I know now that — wedding or no wedding — no one is going to give me a certificate of approval stating that I am a good person leading a good life with a good man in a good place.
It’s up to me to be that good person, create that good life, love and support that good man, and enjoy each good place along the way.
I don’t need a cast of thousands to affirm that I am worthy of love and partnership. The affirmation is in the act of love. It exists in the doing.
A wedding is about a lifetime commitment to the doing of love, even though we’re not promised that happy ending.