lways a bridesmaid, never a bride.
Not just cruel words that older relatives and married friends love to throw around at functions where you are in some pastel monster called a bridesmaid's dress and a friend, sister, cousin, etc., is in something magnificent and white. These are painfully true words that I believe drove me over the edge.
Thirty is not that old ... it's a perfectly acceptable age to still be single. It's a good time for a woman to focus on finding herself and building her career. Unfortunately, no matter how many times I told myself that, I still didn't buy it.
When I was in high school, I truly believed that by the time I was thirty I would be married, the owner of my own home, and the mother of a couple of children. Instead, after three decades of pursuing this life, I was still a single, childless renter, while everyone around me was living my dream. So I decided to take matters into my own hands, and that's how I ended up where I am today.
Today is my wedding day ... it should be the happiest day of my life. It should be the day that at long last all my dreams are realized and I embark on the love boat to the island of happiness and bliss that everyone else has already been living on. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Instead, this day is worse than I ever imagined it could be. I'm standing in a suite at The Plaza hotel ... no expense has been spared in pursuit of matrimonial perfection. I am wearing my dreamâa white (at last!)âVera Wang strapless wedding gown. My fantasy wedding is minutes away and I'm finally realizing what I have done.
Okay, so I mentioned that I was driven over the edge ... let me take you back and explain the whole thing.
One Year Earlier
'm sitting alone on the subway ... it's Sunday, so there are hardly any other people. The few people in my carâa woman who looks like she may live there, an athletic couple in workout clothes, and a man with a cranky little girlâare staring at me. I close my eyes and lean my head back ... why wouldn't they be staring at me? I must look like I came from
The Night of the Living Dead
I'm wearing one of the ugliest bridesmaid's dresses I've ever worn ... and that's saying a lot, because I've worn a lot. It's lavender and chiffon and huge. I think my friend, Maggie, was going for some sort of
Gone With the Wind
theme ... for her bridesmaids; of course, her own gown was sleek and sophisticated and amazing.
I've been in the thing since 2:00 P.M. yesterday when we began the marathon three-hour photo session. My makeup is no longer where it started ... it's all streaked down my cheeks. My fancy hairdo that I thought had enough spray to go through a wind tunnel looks like some squirrels took up residence and then had a domestic disturbance. And one of my adorable lavender Hype sandals, the only thing about my ensemble that didn't nauseate me, is missing a heel. I can only imagine what a sight I am.
I'm sure you're wondering why someone who looks as bad as I currently do would opt for the public humiliation of the subway and not take a private, less shameful taxicab? Well, I had some problems ... let me explain. I guess all the problems can be traced back to one big problemânamely, alcohol. I had too much of it. Then, at 11:00 P.M., the open bar ran out and switched to a no-host bar ... meaning: buy your own booze. At that point I'd already had too much alcohol to accurately judge that a) I didn't need any more drinks, or b) spending my cab money on rum and Cokes was a really dumb idea. The second problem, and the reason I'm on the subway during daylight hours with other human beings and not in the dead of night, is Kevin (I think it's Kevin), the extremely handsome (I think extremely handsome) groomsman.
Too much rum and not enough Coke allowed me to think for a brief, blurry moment that perhaps Kevin was “the one” (a common problem for single girls ... every human with a Y-chromosome could be “the one”), and so I joined him in his hotel room for a high-school-caliber make-out session that would have gone farther had another groomsman not been kind enough to pass out in the same room (I am a strong believer that after college it's wrong to have sex when other people are asleepâor awake, for that matterâin the same room). I ended up passing out in the room as well and didn't wake up until the pounding in my head got too loud at the crack of dawn this morning when I crept out (without disturbing Kevin, the other groomsman, or the third guy who I didn't even know had come in) to do the walk of shame.
Thankfully, we arrive at my stop just as I feel the chunks of last night's “wedding chicken” start to rise in my throat. You know what I'm talking about, right? The standard hotel chicken, in sickening sauce with smaller-than-usual vegetables to make them fancy and creamier-than-usual potatoes to ensure stomach problems, particularly for anyone in a hoopskirt. I get out of the station as quickly as a girl with a missing heel can and take a deep breath of fresh air. Well, as fresh as Manhattan air gets in July.
As I arrive at my apartmentâan apartment I've lived in since I graduated from collegeâI feel enormous relief. It's only 8:45 A.M., but I think I've sweated one or two pints in the three-block walk. I climb up the three flights of stairs and I am living proof of Dorothy's wise words, “There's no place like home!”
I absolutely love my apartment, and although it might not be as fancy as some with elevators or doormen, it really is a Manhattan gem. It was my grandmother's for as long as I can remember. She passed away shortly before I graduated from college and left the unit to my dad. He and my mom agreed that a two-bedroom in a great Upper East Side location was the perfect place for my sister, Jamie, and me to live upon graduation. The plan was that I would live alone until Jamie graduated three years later; then she would move in with me. Only Jamie graduated from college madly in love and got engaged and then married and never moved in. Thankfully, I was able to keep the place all for myself.
The apartment wasn't the only thing left behind by my beloved grandmother when she died. She left me an extremely generous “wedding fund,” which has been cruelly burning a hole in my pocket. Nana and I had an extremely close relationship, and we both shared a passion for weddings. Nana really started it all. She was a hopeless romantic, married to her high-school sweetheart from the day after their graduation until the day he died. Up until the very end, she still put her wedding dress on every year on her anniversary. According to her, this was so she could relive the happiest day of her life. When questioned by my father why his birth wasn't the happiest day of her life, all she could do was shrug. She loved weddings. Nana could describe all eight of Elizabeth Taylor's weddings (and wedding dresses) in detail. She was up at the crack of dawn to watch every second of coverage of Princess Diana's marriage to Charles, she kept me up late to watch Joanie Cunningham marry Chachi Arcola, and she talked my mother into letting me stay home from school when Luke and Laura were wed.
Ever since the day she presented me with my first Barbie bride doll clad in a miniature white lace gown, she and I had been planning my special day. With Nana, no wish was too indulgent. Together, we planned for five-foot trains and six-foot cakes. All through my adolescence, I believed that these plans could and would come true. I was certain that, like Nana, I would marry my high-school sweetheart. It didn't turn out that way ... instead I found him having sex with my best friend in the girls' bathroom at our prom. As I entered my twenties, still alone, I started to have my doubts, but Nana never did.
He's out there, Molly, so you'd better think about these plans now so that you're ready when you find him,
I believed her, and kept planning. As my friends started to marry off, at first it gave me hope. I saw how it was happening to people around meâdreams were coming trueâso my day in the sun must be just around the corner. The block kept getting longer and longer, though, and the corner was still nowhere in sight. When my grandmother passed away, a significant portion of my devastation was that she would not be around to share the day that she and I had planned for so many years.
Then my father informed me that Nana had specifically left me an inheritance to be spent on my dream wedding. While I knew the day would never be the same without her physically there, her gift made me feel like whenever Mr. Right came along, my wonderful grandmother would still play an important part in what she promised would be the happiest day of my life. My father was kind enough to help me invest my wedding fund until the day came when I was ready to use it. Thanks to him, what was an extremely generous gift to begin with had grown into what I was quite sure would afford me my dream-fantasy wedding. The only thing missing, of course, was that dream-fantasy guy ...