I was startled by the sound of the descending wheels and awoke when the captain requested that the flight attendants prepare for landing. I was touching down in Texas where, ultimately, I would act as a witness to my friends' pledges of eternal love.
While laid over in Dallas, I managed to locate a postcard with a scantily clad cowgirl-unnaturally reclined (of course) on a haystack. I jotted a note on the back and sent it off to an unsuspecting San Franciscan friend. I did the same with a postcard detailing the events of JFK's assassination, all the while amused by the thought of how infrequently such things pass through the hands of Silicon Valley postmen.
Soon after, I was boarding for the second time that day, en route to my final destination. I dozed off during the half-hour flight while thinking about how I might not ever understand why my friends were getting married. They are, I thought, perfectly fine the way they are-single. Before I could concoct any theories, I was at the gate embracing the bride's brother who was responsible for transporting me to the home of his aunt and uncle-strangers who graciously offered to host me that weekend.
I arrived at their wedding-related-chaos-and-stress-filled home with a fake smile and five pounds of chocolate. The smile was for the bride to be-the chocolate for my hosts. Per the betrothed's request, I followed her into the bathroom to begin "catching up" despite her being due at the rehearsal dinner in less than an hour. During our conversation, we were interrupted no fewer than ten times. A bit frustrated, I politely offered to resume the conversation when it would be more convenient for her.
"Don't be silly," she said, as she painted away blemishes and artificially flushed her cheeks. On she went amidst and despite the commotion asking me all about the usual things-my work, social, and love lives. But there just wasn't time for responses; the limousine was waiting.
While preparing for the evening's affair, I reminded myself about my plan to enjoy, not analyze the events of the weekend. But I couldn't stop wondering how Hannah was holding herself (and, seemingly, everyone and everything else) together. Despite my best efforts to suppress them, the questions barreled into my conscious thoughts-why would anyone bring this upon herself? Why would anyone plan and execute this? It all made me want to execute myself.
The cocktail party was no less bewildering. Guests like myself (friends, not family) were connected only by those we came to watch wed, and we could hardly wait for them to arrive. When they finally did, I longed for the happy couple's attention-something I've never seen spread so thinly. While waiting for it, I reluctantly dipped in and out of polite conversations, awkward moments, the buffet, and bar. And when it was finally time to call it a night, I was relieved. I was exhausted from the long day spent travelling and worn out from my futile quest for answers, particularly to the question "how could anyone possibly enjoy this?" This was the last thought I had before falling asleep that evening, and it seemed like only an hour had passed when I was awakened by the sounds of a full house. I immediately dressed for the women-only brunch being hosted downstairs, put on my best happy face, and descended the stairs.
Still exhausted and slightly hungover, I made small talk with those I had met the night before. Seated between the maiden of honor and Hannah's future mother in law, I listened while Hannah toasted all of the women surrounding her. She recited short stories detailing why each woman in the room was dear to her, moving everyone but myself (even those who don't speak English) to tears. Make no mistake, I was thrilled for her, but I have just never been a tears-of-joy shedder.
To hide my dry face, I raised a glass of water to my lips, but before I could take a sip, it was confiscated by the mother of the bride-an action accompanied by an informative lecture on the importance of not having Disney cups appear in wedding-related-event photographs. Before I could miss it, in its place was thrust a mimosa-filled crystal champagne glass-one I was late raising for the final toast of the party.
I followed the last remaining guest out the door and embarked on a long run in search, perhaps, of lucidity. When I returned, however, my confusion only increased. The house was quiet! I soon realized this was because all of its inhabitants were paralyzed by the sight of Hannah. She, in her wedding gown, had the same effect on me, and I remember smiling while thinking that she was in just the state a woman should be in on her wedding day. It wasn't long, however, before we all noticed that she was actually few, if any, of the things a woman should be on her wedding day-agitated, irritable, and pretending to be happy (to name a few). I would have tried to lift her spirits had I time, but I was back only five minutes when her mother forcefully escorted her daughter out the front door and into the back of a limousine.
I shouted "Good luck" after her, showered and changed, and headed off to the wedding. When I arrived at the designated location, I exited the car and walked to ceremony site. There, I took a seat and looked around. My gaze fell upon the fingers and hands of the harpist as she strummed Pachabel's Cannon. I vividly recall the stillness and quietness that was about the place; even those who spoke did so only in a whisper.
The wedding party arrived, and when the groom, best man, and maiden of honor were in their places, The Wedding March was played. Hannah, giving herself away that day, glided toward the makeshift alter and joined her fiancÚ. I watched him intently. While approaching him, she was, I am certain, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen; she was, I am certain, the woman he once only dreamed he would spend the rest of his life with; and she was, I am certain, everything a woman should be on her wedding day.
When she arrived by his side, I looked around. Couples seemed to be standing a little closer together, and I imagined those holding hands squeezed a little tighter. During those moments, love seemed to be a tangible entity present among and flowing from all of us-even from me, in a form I previously felt incapable of expressing.
I concentrated again on Hannah and Patrick. The vows they spoke and the light rain that began to fall were merely in the background, as I was completely distracted by the notion that each was not only totally and completely confident in-lacked all doubt about-their love for the other but also in and about the love that the other had for them. Magical it was and how I will forever describe it, as this, I realized, was perhaps the single most special and amazing feeling a person might ever know. I wondered if I will ever be so fortunate.
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© Melt Magazine 2002