The Jennifer Chronicles - Volume III
March 28, 2010How To Attend Your Mother's Wedding - Part Three
My mother's wedding was beautiful in its own anti-climactic way. I found myself thinking: Helen Benjamin married Randall Prescott - and they lived happily ever after. That had a nice ring to it. I was a bridesmaid again. As I watched my mother say her vows I was struck by how much joy I felt for her and how sad I suddenly felt for myself.
At the reception I sat with Carrie and her monosyllabic husband, Scott. I often wondered if Scott had nothing left to say. Perhaps he had actually run out of material. Last year, I was a witness when he mustered enough vowels and consonants to say "I love you" and give Carrie a ring. I think that was enough talk for her.
Important social tip: at a wedding everyone knows when you don't have a husband, boyfriend, either, or both. It's not the staring and pointing that tells me this, it's a vibration, an aura. You can see people mentally holding up signs, wordlessly signaling your status to others. I wanted to hold up my own sign: Recently relocated to West Coast. Can you give me a break, please? It made me think of my last relationship, Steve, my fair-haired officer of the law.
"Should I ask about Steve?"
Carrie didn't look at me. "Let it go Joans. You've moved on."
What did that mean? Who said anything about moving on? Had Steve moved on?
"Give it to me straight," I finally said. I could take it. Maybe.
Carrie gave me a sideways glance. "He's dating. That's all I know."
I folded my arms across my chest. Dating. My ex-boyfriend is dating. Fine. Okay. Whatever. I ended the relationship. It was my choice. So, he's dating. I felt my lips pinch. I should've started dating before I came back. That way I could've said I was dating first.
"Are you done with your mental rant now?" Carrie asked.
"Yup." I was feeling sullen.
"Don't brood Joanie. You'll find someone."
I damn well better. What to do when everyone else's life is settled, for better or worse, except your own? I did the only thing I could do. I drank a lot of champagne and decided not to try and figure out my life now. I used to be a big fan of introspection; these days not so much. I didn't have the time.
"Is he enjoying himself?"
"All right." Can't a girl ask a question?
On the way to the ladies room I caught sight of Randall's great aunt, the silver haired terror, at table ten. It was a sit down dinner and her purse was nowhere in sight. Must have been sent out for cleaning.
The day after Christmas I was hustling through the airport, schlepping my bag on wheels to make my connection, a cellphone at my ear.
"Joanie, why are you so out of breath?" my mother asked, her voice ringing with alarm.
"Because I'm pulling forty pounds on wheels to make my flight." And because you overbought Christmas presents again, I added silently. This year's gifts were the "I'm worried about you living so far away, desolate, unmarried, and alone, and I want you to find someone" presents. I can't speak for anyone else but I'm pretty sure a bottle of J'adore, silk blouses, and a home spa bath collection with loofah can't bear all this responsibility.
"Joanie, I want you to have a safe flight," My mother said.
"And make sure you use hand sanitizer," my mother said.
"You should have let me make you a sandwich."
"Mommy, I can't bring a picnic basket on my flight."
"Well, don't pay those ridiculous prices they charge for food. Buy an apple and a sandwich in the terminal to tide you over."
"Yes, mom, because that's so much cheaper."
"Don't be fresh Joanie."
I smiled. "I love you mom." I said it more often, now that she was far away. I was beginning to know what it really meant.
"I love you too Joanie."
I arrived at the gate and settled into a seat to wait. I thought about the things my mother chatted about, what she had planned for the rest of the week, how Carrie would stop by just to say hello or have lunch. For some reason I hadn't thought about it before, how life at home was going on without me, how I wasn't there to be a part of it. I had never thought about it until I came home and had to leave again. My eyes began to fill up and I blinked fast. Time to put your big girl shoes on Joanie, get a grip.
A uniformed woman came to the gate and started her announcement for pre-boarding. Through the window I saw a guy driving the luggage tram up to the plane. Last leg of the flight. I was almost back. At least I had a suitcase full of clean clothes to take with me.
Next week: Auld Lang Syne - Part I