My dream wedding didn’t happen, which feels like old news almost a year later. Tincture of time, my friends. Right after the not-wedding, I began accounting for all the losses and inventoried my wounds. I’d catch myself fixed on the literal waste of it all—hundreds of dollars spent and hours of making things that would never see the light of day. Like the fancy make-up that I practiced putting on in the store, or the grey wellies from eBay that I planned to wear around my stepdad’s barnyard during the reception.
I shuddered to think of the boxes in my mother’s house that I was too emotionally crippled to move. Tears welled at the mental slideshow of what it all would have looked like that day, if only we could have held it all together. All the special, pretty little things arranged under a white tent in a bright green field on a sunny day. The waste hung and clung and ached sometimes worse than the feeling of waking up alone each morning. I avoided it like produce rotting in the refrigerator that I knew I’d have to throw away eventually but couldn’t bear to see ruined.
About a month later, it started raining for a week straight. I had tickets to see Edward Sharpe at an outdoor venue with some girlfriends. We knew the place would be flooded like Woodstock. I needed rubber boots… tall ones…
The grey wellies were pristine in their box, still wrapped in tissue. I paused over them for a moment before I put them, and my friend nodded that it was time. Once their spell was broken, I let myself experience the first taste of pure joy I’d had in a long time. Rain drenched, with one hand in the air and the other around my friend’s shoulder, we swayed. The droplets fell, tears streamed down my face, and “let it all wash out in the rain” cut through the dark and lifted my tender heart.
I showed up at my niece’s birthday party the next weekend with fifty pairs of sunglasses, the “perfect” wedding favor. Also, apparently, a hit with three-year-olds at a beach party. Over the summer, I started randomly handing out sunglasses at get-togethers with friends. The more I gave, the more I’d shrug my shoulders and say “meh” when I considered their intended use. Now I keep them in my car and stick them in random drawers around my house.
On the Fourth of July, my Pinterest bar made from pallets wound up under the awning at my parents’ barbecue. There’s a part of me that wanted to heft it onto the bonfire just looking at it, but I had to smile knowing it was put to good use.
For a while, getting ready for work most days felt like preparing to head back into the boxing ring with my sadness. At some point, I started salving the bags under my cry-myself-to-sleep-eyes with the expensive concealer I’d kept in a plastic tub marked “bridal suite.” Eventually, I said, “Fuck it,” and threw on some “bridal” blush and pale pink gloss, too.
With time, I’ve seen that much of the stuff I bought and things I made miraculously came in handy these past few months. As much as I might have believed I knew exactly how that day would look—I could almost touch the beautiful sum of all the parts—the reality is always a little different now, i’n-it? I didn’t know back then what I was actually preparing for, but somehow I had exactly what I needed to make it through. Of course, don’t let the wedding junk fool you—it’s your friends and family (and Edward Sharpe) and stuff from your insides that you didn’t know you had that will pull you through your wedding, even if your wedding never happens at all. The wedding junk just makes good window dressing. It turns out that it’s what you do with what you’ve got that matters.
Okay. Almost. Not all of it makes good window dressing either. The rest of it I’m scheduled to burn in a therapeutic bonfire this summer. Fair thee well, monogram cake topper and custom handkerchief for the not-mother-in-law. Burn on.