My Friends Are Getting Married & My Parents Are Getting Divorced (Essay)
Words by Lauren Bieker.
The wedding was set for July 23, and I managed, to everyone’s surprise, to find a wedding date. He’s a beautiful man. He’s very funny and a great dancer, and despite what you may think, these are not the reasons I asked him to be my date. I asked him because like so many people in my life right now, he is going through a terrible, messy divorce. Somehow this sad qualifying factor made him more appealing than his toned arm muscles covered in an Armani suit jacket, or his ability to swing me around the dance floor.
Although I’m not getting divorced, my parents are. They have been for the last four years. Dad has already moved on to a new girlfriend, and I suspect a new family. Mom’s still my rock, although as the divorce progresses, I can see how easily a person, like stone, can be eroded.
Booking my flight for the wedding was tough. Not because of the insane cost of the flight, the gift, the hotel room, and the food and drinks while there, etc. And, not because I don’t believe that their love is real. It’s that…I truly don’t understand the point of marriage.
After sharing this sentiment, people tell me a number of sickening things that may or may not be true:
“It’s an open expression of love. They want to invite people in, and share their love with everybody.”
“You’ll understand when you meet the right man.”
“Do you think that maybe, you’re a bit jealous?”
“You’ve just never felt a love like theirs before.”
I will not get into which of these I think are true or false, because it’s not the point. The point is to ask someone, why is it such an affront for me to not give a shit?
My wedding date was a comedian from Los Angeles. (He’s hilarious.) Of course, as soon as the wedding party found out, they demanded he perform some sort of impromptu set. At first, I thought this was a great idea; he’s great on the fly. And, he’s the most beautiful man I’ve been with. I was prepared to flaunt him as much as possible. He nodded along, half serious as they moved on to a different subject, something about flowers or napkins, or who’s going to look after the best man when he imbibes to his level of “blacked out and trying to remove his dress shirt.”
“Wait…Are you seriously thinking about doing stand up tonight? I’m sure they’d love it, but you really don’t have to,” I assured him.
“Honestly, I would…” He paused. “Except, all of my material is about divorce.”
We agreed that a wedding wasn’t the best venue for his set, but he also agreed to casually whisper jokes in my ear during the ceremony. Who needs sweet nothings when you have a comedy routine?
Cynicism tabled for a minute, the wedding was really beautiful. I watched one of my dear friends recite vows of love and commitment to her beau, and I watched him recite them right back. I only caught myself looking for hesitation in their voices once. My date spent a lot of time under his hat and avoiding to look up, which I think had more to do with the sun being in his eyes than the vision in front of him, but how should I know for sure?
When everyone moved on to the reception and took their seat, the DJ took the opportunity to introduce the married couple. It was then time for the toasts. The DJ had barely announced the first speaker when my date promptly left for the bathroom.
Some of the toasts were good. One even brought me to tears, which is when I realized that he was still not sitting next to me. He didn’t come back to the table until all the speeches were done, and although he said it was out of respect for those speaking, I suspected that it was simply just too hard for him to witness.
When he got back to the table, he looked at me. “I don’t really know where these tears are coming from,” I admitted.
“I was planning to come back and joke with you about how unprepared the best man was for his toast, but then I saw you crying,” he admitted.
We didn’t quite know what to say to each other for a few minutes. I didn’t know why I was crying. The tears weren’t of joy or of sadness. But he knew why I was crying, and he also knew that both of us would not be willing or able to talk about it.
We had finally gotten food in our bellies and wine in our glasses. I was still attempting to get the swelling down in my eyes and that’s when he said it, “for someone that doesn’t care about marriage. You seem to care an awful lot.”
I wanted to argue with him. I care, but I don’t believe. I think there’s a difference:
I care about caring.
I care about support.
I care about my parents.
I care about their divorce
I believe in love.
I believe in commitment.
I believe in family.
I also care about lying.
I also care about deception.
I also care about abandonment.
Still, I don’t believe in marriage.
I’m going to another wedding next month. This time by myself. I’m going to be a bridesmaid in one next year. From there, I’m sure my list of friends who have made the choice to get married will increase. I will show up, dance, and enjoy each celebration.
I am happy for my friends. I am sad for my family. Is it possible to be both?