The first wedding of the summer was in June. I was a bridesmaid for a 20-year-old friend. I wore a green dress. Not a usual color of green, a blend between light and dark shades. I suppose the color reflected the mixed emotions inside my heart. I stood toward the edge of the church stage watching a life-changing event. Despite physically being in the wedding, I felt disconnected. More than just that, I felt angry.
The second wedding was in August. I was the maid of honor to my childhood best friend. My dress was a sea glass blue. If only that color was reflecting clarity of mind. It wasn’t. The woman I watched walk down that aisle was the same person I had spent over half of my life with. I remember days before she could reach car pedals or apply makeup; now she was becoming someone’s wife. Before the wedding ceremony began, her mom looked at me and asked if I was ready to give away my best friend. At that moment, I did not know how to respond.
Once again I felt distant, confused.
You could say that I am somewhat of a professional marriage witness.
Not really, but I quite literally was a witness signer for two weddings. Both of the ceremonies occurred the summer before my sophomore year of college.
In the time leading up to the weddings, and even afterward, people of all ages questioned me as to why kids as young as myself were getting married. My typical response involved shrugged shoulders and an acknowledgment that I, too, was a bit bewildered by all of it.
Most people said my friends had not experienced enough of life to settle down. I found that this “experience” usually meant living freely, traveling and enjoying their twenties without being tied down to another person.
While I understood the concern felt by others about the weddings, my own frustration came from a different place. I felt as though I was missing some piece of my life puzzle. Here I was with friends who had attended community college, achieved well-paying jobs and met the person that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with. Meanwhile, what had I been doing? Attending a university as a freshman college student with no job, no desire for marriage, and still purposely wearing mismatched socks like a ten-year-old.
When had I fallen so behind on life… or had I?
None of those emotions were directed at my friends, nor did I blame my friends for how I was feeling.
Just as there were folks who had been telling me that my friends should not be married so young, people started asking me about the condition of my love life. At both weddings I received sly comments that I am next in line to be married- as if marriage is a disease that spreads by association. I’m not sure which side of extreme opinions disturbs me more. Perhaps it is simply the fact that so many people think they can apply one life plan to everyone’s path.
None of those comments helped. In fact, they hindered. They enraged me more.
Stop telling me I am next for anything. Stop implying that I am a failure for not looking for marriage. Stop making me doubt myself.
Should I feel guilty for my shades of emotions at the weddings? Perhaps.
It was one of the happiest days of my friends’ lives and I couldn’t stop brooding.
Do not think that I was not happy for my friends. I experienced inexplicable joy when I watched my friends float down those aisles. But I also experienced deep pain.
Watching my friends walk into a new season of their lives made me feel left behind. These were people I had grown up knowing. Life had changed so much in the years I had known them. We are all different people from who we used to be. Watching those weddings felt similar to watching a funeral of my past.
After achieving distance from the summer of weddings, I realized some things. My feelings of confusion stemmed from a rather important lesson. Life changes. Nothing tangible will stay the same forever. These friends tie me to my adolescence. Who I was before, she only exists in the past. I am in a new season of life as well. I am an adult. My season of life looks different from the lives of my friends, and that’s okay.
As time moves forward, fewer strands seem to connect me from behind. It’s painful. Unfortunately, everyone is forced to encounter it at some point or another. Life moves with, or without us. Fortunately, the fact that this is a universal experience is encouraging.