Friday, July 5, 2013

One Week Left

*I feel like this one deserves a disclaimer.  If you don't like self indulgent introspection and emotional vulnerability, this little ditty might make you really bored or really uncomfortable.  I love/hate this stuff, so here goes.

There is so much right now.  I stopped keeping journals many years ago because I always felt I had to catch the journal up on events before diving into what inspired me to sit down to write in the first place.  By the time I arrived to the present, I was too changed from documenting all the things that had happened before (in chronological order, no less, which is not how I naturally process life), I usually never made it into the juicy "what's happening now" stuff.

I (or we) got married a week and a half ago.  It is a story.  It ended up being oddly perfect, though if I were to re-do it, I don't know if I would choose to repeat all the choices we made.  But thankfully I don't have that choice and in the case of our wedding, hindsight allows me to see how the pieces fit together to create something unexpectedly perfect, and I am grateful for the choices we made because they led up to a profound and lovely wedding we could never repeat under friendlier circumstances.  So there's that.

Our reception is in a week and a day.

In very social-worky terms, I'm feeling mixed emotions.

I am a naturally logistics-minded, preparation-oriented person.  One of my deeply held creeds is most logistical emergencies can be predicted and prevented with good planning.  Our wedding day both supports this (if it says 50% chance of heavy rain and you choose to have an outdoor ceremony, there is a 50% chance you will be rained on) and undermines this (if we had chosen the safe route--marrying in my parents' backyard instead of driving into the Sierra Mountains as we did, we would have lost a great deal of the richness and connection and "be here now"-ness of driving around Plumas County at 7:30 at night looking for a dry place to hold the ceremony before we lost all trace of light).  Still, despite knowing it is the unplanned spaces that are most often beautiful, my gut always tells me planning is better.  I find great comfort in planning, in the to-do lists, in over-communicating and reading others' "what can go wrong" experiences to (in some imaginary world) ensure those same things don't go wrong for us.  And I am at a crux now, one week out, of realizing I cannot plan away everything that might go wrong but still wanting desperately to cling to that most comforting of habits.

I've noticed in myself increasing anxiety over the past six weeks or so that someone in my critical circle (family, H, close friends) will experience some kind of life-derailing emergency.  It crept up on me--feeling a little more skittish riding my bicycle to work, being hyper-vigilant when anybody vocalizes feeling less-than-great or a small ache, waking up in the middle of the night imagining somebody will lose a job or some natural disaster is going to strike.  The funny thing about this anxiety is it's subtle--I  notice it in tightened muscles, a caught breath, a quick flash, and then it passes, or at least seems to (though my shoulders tell a different story).

It hit me hard last night when one of these critical people confessed to a persisting toothache that had morphed into a headache.  This on day one of a four day weekend, meaning the soonest any dentist office will be accepting appointments is probably Tuesday.  Meaning if this particular toothache requires a second visit to actually address the problem, this person will likely be out of commission with pain (toothache is gut-wrenchingly awful, isn't it?) at least all week, if we're lucky.  If we're not lucky, this most critical of critical people will be out of commission during the reception, too, likely still soldiering on with a pain-wrenched face, which sounds almost worse than just not being there.  And since my little planning self somehow finds comfort in assuming the worst (which kind of makes sense if you're a "plan for the worst, hope for the best" person but not so much if you remember planning for the worst is hellishly exhausting), I went from "oh you have a toothache?  Let me get you some ibuprofen." to "Oh my god this wedding celebration isn't going to happen and the last year of work was for naught." in less than a minute.  Wedding planning really does bring out my best self.  Because, you know, the exact thing you want to hear when you've dealt with a painful tooth and head all day is, "WHO IS GOING TO HELP ME HANG THE LIGHTS NOW?"

I've put off processing almost all of this wedding stuff pretty much since it began.  Sure, I've attempted to remain aware of that delicate balance between awareness of what we really want and wedding-industry-crazy-you-must-buy-all-the-things.  Beyond that, I've avoided the emotional component and the emotional awareness--checking in with myself just seems like one extra thing I'll deal with after the wedding.  Probably I'm also a little afraid of what I'll find, because in the imaginary wedding "how-to" manual, I'm supposed to feel excited, grateful, giddy, happy, you get the picture.  And while I am feeling all those things at times, I'm also feeling a lot more, and because our society doesn't usually talk about the un-pretty stuff, I have no guidelines for the "lot more," nobody saying, "Oh, that's totally normal, you're right on track."  And while I won't ask you to tread with me through all of that (at least in this moment.  I have a suspicion those waters run deep, not helped much by finally graduating school with no idea of what I want to do with my life), I think the exhaustion I woke up with this morning and the less-than-loving approach I took toward this person in pain deserves a second look, because in my heart I know my response is not about anything other than me--my insecurities, my fears, my need for approval, my need to control things that cannot be controlled.  In other words, all those qualities I typically leave off of resumes.  And while I know I'll probably spend the rest of my life getting cozy with those tendencies, it's not fair for me to ask others to deal with them, especially when they're all already dealing with so much.

Weddings are a big deal, and while you might often hear that statement followed by something like, "Duh! Because you're committing your life to another person's!" that's only part of it, if we're being honest.  There is an image to maintain, after all.  Even indie weddings, simple weddings, traditional weddings, hipster weddings, on-a-surfboard weddings, "I don't care what anybody thinks" weddings are trying to maintain an image.  It's what we do as humans.  It is healthy for us to be concerned with how we present ourselves to the world and it's only natural to sometimes tweak that portrayal a bit to highlight certain parts of our personalities and hide others.  To be honest, my "I'm not going to become a bridezilla" approach to this is at least 50% image, because you know and I know that bitchy, self-centered, demanding person is in me.  It came out last night.  And as much as I felt like a jerk for dumping all my fears on somebody who was trying to manage pain, I also felt ashamed for losing my shit (in front of guests, no less.  Lovely).  Shame is a social emotion; without other people present, there is no shame.  How I acted didn't jibe with how I want people to see me.  But how I acted was a manifestation of (part of) who I am.  As much as I wish those tendencies would go the way of my workouts and restful sleep, which apparently have taken a hike until after the wedding, I don't think I'll be so lucky.  They're in it for the long haul, it would seem.

I believe underlying this little incident is the painful recognition that I cannot plan for everything, and even the things I do plan for will at some point be partially (or mostly) beyond my control.  But rather than a private conversation and conciliatory text messages to patch things up, the inevitable "things that go wrong" at the wedding are going to happen in full view of the 110 people coming to celebrate with us.  This process has been so personal, the product such a manifestation of me, of us, of our family, of our precious community, it feels incredibly vulnerable to release it to the world with nothing to ensure its success other than crossed fingers (and a lot of love).  It feels overwhelming, bowling me over alternately with excitement and anxiety and a whole bundle of other emotions I haven't yet invited to the surface.  And the tricky part is there are so many other things happening internally, in my relationships, in life, both big and small, I feel this is only one strand of a horribly (and perhaps beautifully) tangled ball of yarn I'm just beginning to untangle.  I'm still not quite at the root of this complicated experience, but it's a start.

I suppose the lesson is  to accept the anxiety as the companion of the excitement, just as our wedding day would not have brought such serenity had it not been preceded by hours spent teetering on the edge of profound disappointment.  Life is made richer, better, by the contrasts.  While the to-do lists, the timelines, the months of preparation may contribute to certain pieces of the day going smoothly, I must acknowledge at the bottom of those lists is an attempt to create something that doesn't exist.  That frankly, I don't want to exist; there are no good stories in perfect.  I'm pretty sure our friends don't live there, either, and this wedding will be kind of boring if nobody shows up.

Caring about things is so hard, isn't it?  Rather, acknowledging we care about things is so hard.  Still, so much better than the alternative, somehow.


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