I had a brief conversation the other day with a girlfriend. Just chatting about nothing much really and out of the blue she asked me... "so when are you getting married?"
Luckily we were chatting online so she couldn't see the puzzled look I surely had. I laughed a little and said that I had not received a marriage proposal but I would be sure to tell her when or if I ever did. We laughed a bit more and ended our chat but her words rattled in my head for quite some time.
...so when are you getting married?
I have asked myself that question many times. I have listened to people make snide remarks about my single status for many years. To be honest, it stings. Not always, but sometimes it does.
I've been engaged before. A very long time ago. He was a really nice young man. My family loved him. But I found myself losing my identity as I struggled with the boundaries between being Nicole -- and exploring what that meant -- and pleasing my boyfriend. Eventually, I ended the relationship and the engagement. In hindsight, I wish I was more mature and better able to articulate my feelings and concerns. My fear was that I would not be a good wife to him. I did not believe then that I was able to promise to care for anyone for a lifetime.
Fast forward 20 years... and now I'm in a great relationship with a really good guy and it seems that there are many people around us who do think that we're destined to be wed. My thoughts? I don't think we're there yet. At least that is what I say to myself. But, I think that the deep down truth is that... I'm always the bridesmaid. Even when I turn down the opportunity to actually be a bridesmaid, that's the role I have.
Yes. I know that it doesn't make sense... but when do I make sense? (laughs)
So, after thinking about it for a couple of days, I did the unthinkable. In my desire to conform to my twisted sense of "always a bridesmaid"... I actually tried on one of the bridesmaid dresses that I have hanging in the back of my closet.
*somewhere someone just howled with laughter -- I heard that!*
One of my dearest friends married his bride 19 years ago. That dress hangs in my closet and is a reminder of one of the most beautiful weddings I'd ever attended. Yes... nineteen years ago. And today, I actually pulled that dress down and tried it on.
Well... that didn't work out at all. Granted, I've been through some things in the 20 years since I was fitted for that dress. And I've gained a pound or two. Okay... maybe 40 or so. Don't judge me! (laughs)
But lawd... that was a mess!!
I tried to squeeze my fat arms into the little sleeves and well, that didn't work at all. I had to give up on the lymphedema arm -- because that was doomed from the start. Once I figured out which way the little elastic thingy went and slid my other arm in and around it... I reached around to grab the zipper.
Ha! Oh. My. Gawd.
So, here's the picture... I'm standing in my bedroom, gaping in the full-length mirror at a woman in her mid 40's... with a dress that is 7 or 8 inches too short, hitched up too high on her butt, with a lump in the back where the zipper should be flat. I could only zip the dress about a quarter of an inch before it was stuck, with one arm in a sleeve and another arm outside of the dress... and I looked in the mirror at this sad frumpy lady...
... and I chuckled.
When did I get old? And why, lawd why... did I think that I could fit anything that I wore at 25? Later on though, I went out to eat with my guy and suddenly everything we normally do just was NOT good enough. I was oddly dissatisfied with our regular stuff and I wanted something different. I yammered on and on for about 15 minutes -- it was meaningless babble about eating more salad and not eating fried everything -- and eventually we landed in the parking lot at a random Thai restaurant a short drive away. Finally in utter frustration, I blurted out... "I'M FAT!" and a tear formed in the corner of my eye.
He laughed at me for a minute until he realized that I was serious about this angst. I told him the story about the bridesmaid dress I had tried on earlier. Between deep chuckles and hearty guffaws, he asked me why I even still had the dress, let alone why I thought that I could still fit it. I couldn't answer. But eventually it hit me... because that is who I've always thought of myself as. Always the bridesmaid. Never the bride.
Never the bride.
That sweet man of mine, pinched my butt (which made me laugh because he's not that kind of guy) and told me that he loved all of me. We talked for a bit. He reminded me of all the things that went on 20 years ago and we both laughed. I remember a mention of Michael Jordan before his retirements and Arsenio Hall. Then he reminded me that when it is my turn to be the bride, I will have a dress perfectly fitted for me. All of me, fat butt, lymphedema arm and all... I won't be relegated to wearing a 20 year old bridesmaid dress. Because it will be MY day. Then he told me that I'd be a beautiful bride.
I smiled all through dinner.