Vieques, Puerto Rico; Coralville, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; Chicago, Illinois; Peoria, Illinois
At first glance, as the old Sesame Street tune goes, “One of these things is not like the others.” The freak entry in my 2014 wedding travel log is a sunny paradise full of clear waters, scenic cliffs and exotic wild animals (in this Midwesterner’s defense, frogs and iguanas qualify as otherworldly in a landscape rife with pigeons, rats and squirrels). The other four stops are…flat and full of corn.
There’s a cute new television commercial airing courtesy of Southwest Airlines. In it, a perennial wedding guest is shown rocking a succession of attractive frocks, while throwing down some infectiously committed, if spastic, dance moves. In one scene, she is forced to adjust the overeager hands of a juvenile suitor. I am not saying this happened to me at the Iowa wedding, but if I did, would you be surprised? Basically, change the protagonist’s hair color to a deep red and put a few more years on her, and this advertisement tells my story.
When the invitations started rolling in around the New Year, I had a few concerns about my ability to rise to the occasions, above and beyond the ample financial and time investment required. A jam-packed wedding season is not normally the favored prospect of a two-time divorcee. Also, as regular readers of this blog know, I limped into 2014 fresh from the latest incapacitating romantic disappointment. I was emotionally bankrupt and attending up to six personal and group therapy sessions a month when the first invite was extended.
One must be comatose to find a summons to Eden unappealing, especially when it comes from a dear friend who’s become part of the family. And when that sister’s betrothed flatters a battered ego with a request to sing the wedding song, “Besame Mucho,” only a real fool rejects such an opportunity. I wrote about the experience earlier this year as a transformative one in many ways. It left me with the ability to envision myself, for the first time, as a contented retiree. Personal vistas expanded with time and freedom to celebrate life, committed love and a raw, achingly beautiful, undeveloped part of the world I rarely experience.
I kind of assumed Puerto Rico would be an anomaly. Upon a mid-April return, I tried to fortify myself for the coming onslaught of other people’s dreams coming true, and the bitterness I expected to wear as an accessory. The level of adoration I feel for these people would take priority over self-indulgent pouting of course, but no way could I just sail through a matrimony parade feeling fine, right?
As it turns out, once I got it right in my head that I have zero interest in a third husband, and am not totally sure there’s a commitment of any type in my future (at 36, the small talk associated with a first date feels like too much labor better invested elsewhere), I became a veritable reception MACHINE. I’ve clapped along because I felt like a room without a roof. I have done the Cupid Shuffle after drinking enough champagne to believe myself a channel for Eartha Kitt levels of sexiness. I have hit the buffet, asked for cake seconds and encouraged intoxicated men to do the Worm. Because why not?
One thing I have not done? Get in line to catch the bouquet. Let the other ladies take their superstitious turn. In my 20s, I caught myself a grand total of three castoff flower bunches and guess what? Didn’t up the odds of matrimonial success one whit.
So this weekend is wedding number 5. And I’m ready to Electric Side myself back onto the dance floor. Upon reflection, the coveted, raucous guest is where I always should have left it.