My friends and I have recently discovered the most bittersweet element of growing up. It is a truth universally acknowledged that boys and girls grow into men and women. A few of those men and women fall in love.
And they get married.
It’s nice enough to watch two people grow together as a couple in a movie. Or if, as they were when we were children, they were people much older than us. They were strangers. Their romance was a distant, untouchable thing that did not really affect you. In movies, we watch 30-second clips of weddings on a screen. In real life, the most we sacrifice is an hour or two of our time as we sit and watch the couple exchange vows.
But then we grow up. Suddenly, the sixth grade class clown is engaged. The captain of the cheerleading squad is married. You’re halfway through college, and people you’ve known for the better part of your life are engaged, married, expecting…
It’s bizarre. It’s bizarre, though none of us could put into word just why it is so bizzare.
What really brings this disconcerting feeling close to home is when one of your closest and dearest friends is about to walk down the aisle herself. And you’re one of her attendants.
(Let’s pause for a moment. Before we go any further, allow me to make something perfectly clear. I am making the following disclaimer because I have had to do so in many conversations on this topic in the past, so it seems apt that I explain myself in print as well.
The feeling of disconcertion that arises from seeing one of my best friends get married is not one of jealousy. It is not a wistful feeling. I do not envy her position as a (rather jittery) bride-to-be. No. A thousand times, no. In short, my inner monologue is saying nothing to the effect of:
“Shucks. I wish that was me. When will my day come? Boo hoo hoo…” [At this point this Anti-Risabella would drag out a box of tissues, a box of Russell Stover, and a copy of Sleepless in Seattle and proceed to host a pity party for the next three hours.]
No. That simply isn’t how I roll.)
Rather, there is a mingled joy and sadness that comes from prepping for a best friend’s wedding. All five of us ladies must reconcile ourselves with the fact that all of us have, at last, grown up. There is no going back. As we all flurry around her like moths about a flame—making her comfortable, settling her nerves, keeping her calm, helping her prepare—occasionally we look at each other and silently acknowledge this poignant truth.
We all remember the first days of our friendship. The hours of laughing at nothing; the annual Christmas get-togethers; the inside jokes; the road trips; the shared joys; the shared tears. We’ve been together through absolutely everything: messy break-ups, exams, illnesses, first and final crushes, high school graduations, first days at college, driver’s license tests, birthdays, and family deaths. And now, in the midst of this long, long journey we’ve been taking together—the oldest of our members is leaving us.
I know that sounds extreme. We will still see her. It’s not as though all fellowship with her will end. The remaining four of us all know that she’s going to be the same person. Nothing about her personality or her soul will change. All that’s really happening is that she’s going from being a “Miss” to being a “Mrs.” Then why does it feel like so much more is changing?
We’ll figure it out when we get there. Meanwhile, there are rehearsals to attend, manicures to be obtained, and a host of other extraneous functions to be dealt with before those two can say “I do.” It seems my biggest task will be not to analyze the affair too deeply.