In one month from today, I’ll be married.
In one month, I’ll have a new to do list; one that requires informing the government that I exist in New York, that I’ve been seeing this guy for a while and that we like each other enough to have our accountant link our tax returns together. My name will change and I’ll get that sweet, sweet health insurance; both are equally weird and exciting.
If all goes according to plan, I never have — and never will — have properly dated in New York City. For a writer who lives in Manhattan and really likes shoes, this conclusive end to Carrie Bradshaw comparisons is more luxurious than any combination of seaweed spa treatments on earth.
In a month from today, I'll be in that dress. The one that cost twice what we planned for, the one I liked enough to put back on for a second time, the one we discovered was sewn irregularly and had to be completely reconstructed last weekend, which the Romanian designers assure us they’re sorry, so sorry for.
I'm on a powdered food diet. I haven’t been telling anyone, but let’s just call it what it is. The exercise plan did not take as well as the midnight dessert habit did. It's been hard, very hard, but not impossibly so. I find, for the first time, that I don’t despise exercise — I only dread it. Lately, if something isn’t sore, it doesn’t feel right.
I've barely cried. I haven't lost my mind, but I'm still sorry for all the things I said when I was hungry.
I miss going out to dinner and coming home full and drunk and loopy and passing out covered in mascara. I'm no longer allowed to experience both at the same time, not until this dress fits.
My brain routinely shuts off at 4:15pm. I can't concentrate between my nutritionally designed soup and my nightly dinner of protein and vegetables.
I'm finally in shape, or closing in on it. If there was a time to do so, it's now; still, the closet housing my too-tight clothing remains outside the bedroom. It’s all still too-tight. I’m on my way, but not done. I nearly backhand a girl on the N train because she smushes four where three belong, sitting too closely to me in this zonked-out state. Oh right, it’s after 4pm. I need a snack; I have none left except for the chalky soup that I can’t bother to eat. I’ll have to break today’s diet, again, just like I have done 29 out of the past 30 days. I eat a yogurt. Fuck.
The plan sounds more excessive than it is. I wish I could be more excessive, actually. I wish I cared more, I wish I could lose my mind so much in the wedding vortex that the diet became a problem that people whispered and friends secretly group texted about, but I just don’t care enough. I really don’t. I haven’t lost the extra weight since fourteen years ago, when I vowed this will be the year! while clomping up that C Building staircase. I can’t help it, my brain is hardwired for soft cheeses and hourly snacks and red Skittles and grains of salt floating atop shiny, butter-swatted carbohydrates. You can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t yada yada.
I chew Jelly Bellys for the flavor and spit them out when Ben’s not looking. I am ashamed of this.
I'm mostly tired and always hungry. I have a splitting headache that pulsates each time I leave the house. I think it’s allergy related, or sugar-related, but whatever, I’ll go when I get that good insurance in four week’s time.
All the vain things on my life long To Do list now have expiration dates -- teeth whitening. Contacts. Hair coloring. Hair glosses. Eyebrow shaping. My mom jokes that my wedding night will be spent stripping off all the false things attached to my body, only it's not a joke because it’s actually a list of all the things I need to remember to do before going to sleep.
I purchase a bag of clip-in hair. It “lasts forever”, or so I’m told. Tina Fey shops there, according to the faded celebrity photos lining the walls. It costs one-fifth of my total checking account.
The sheer definition of spending has hit a paradigm shift. Everything goes on the share card. I kid about changing my resume to say I was an event designer from 2014-2015, only it’s not a joke. I may have to do it, if only to explain the time gap.
My full-time job is being a bride, my hobby is writing. This is the only thing that has driven me to tears. Not the dress being sewn off-kilter or worrying about makeup maybe being too glittery or the fact that our hotel room is, in every literal sense of the word, not yet built. It’s this, which sinks inside me like accidentally swallowing a small fish bone, scraping the whole way down, passing just underneath the heart.
I remind myself you can rush deliver anything, even though I’m not sure that’s true. I wasn’t exaggerating, I really do not know where I'm staying the night of the wedding. And it’s scaring me how I’m not scared by any of it. None of it, really. “How is this going to work?" "It’s all going to be fine” goes every conversation, while I actively wonder in the background if my extended family needs typed-out directions on how to get to Manhattan from JFK if they're arriving during rush hour on that Thursday.
My brain is a cyclone of thoughts like these. “Oh fuck, I need lingerie now” and “What do they even wear in Japan?” and “How do I put my dress on when my makeup is done, is it over the top or do I step into it?” and “Am I going to be able to see my family Friday morning or will I be busy?” and “I hope the pearls don’t fall off in that one spot” and “What’s my something old?” and “If I’m getting gel nails, what can I do that's bridal but also me but also respectable but also crazy-fun?”. It never slows down.
We've planned a black tie-optional wedding. We're trying to make it us. These two things are nearly impossible to coincide; we spend eleven straight months fitting square pegs into circle holes and pushing and pushing until something fits. Each time it does, my brain explodes into small celebration of happy fireworks and relief. I don’t know how, but we’ve merged a gala event, a child’s 2nd birthday party, an art instillation and a state fair into one event. It’s a feat I cannot wait to see.
I'm so hungry. I'm totally going to have to eat a second salad today. Fuck.
We reach a crossroads, upon which we decide if we care about this party or don’t. We do. This choice informs every hour of every day of every month that follows it.
I tell myself a wedding is not a marriage is not a wedding, but there’s overlap, obviously. There are to be no vows, no speeches. We love each other and that's already gross enough; we don't need to luxuriate in it like pigs twisting through mud on a hot July morning. We know it, we know it well, and that should be enough. We seem to be alone in this way of thinking.
The party will be spectacular, I’m confident. Everyone thinks I’m not excited; it’s just the word choice. Excitement is the up, disappointment is the down; I will not waver towards either of the spectrums. I refuse to feel any sadness or stress on that day, to care more about the details of a party or the shape of a white dress than the weight of a lifelong promise to someone I’ve publically admitted I like more than everyone else I know. My priorities are in check. The food will be great, the party will be fun, the band should be cool, and the after party will be glorious.
Any excitement is buried down, down, down. After all, there’s still so much to do.
Everyone says I’ll remember nothing. It’s a whirlwind! or It’s a blur! or It’s totally normal to forget everything about your wedding day!, like some weird amnesia that cost thousands and thousands of dollars to contract. I think about how when they’re back home, our parents’ friends will reference the wedding they just went to and the dress the bride wore and a picture of me will appear, a blurry picture of my body on their iPhone 6, and suddenly, I feel very exposed. An outfit I thought was neat will soon be fodder on a decaf coffee date at Starbucks with people I do not know and will never meet. This is supposed to be normal. It doesn’t feel normal.
I fear it a bit. I fear I'll enjoy it, I’ll enjoy that blur like anyone would, and Monday morning I’ll wake up and realize the best moment of my life just passed me by and it’s over and I cherished so little of what led up to it. I’m scared I’ll miss it as much as I miss my bachelorette party, an unbelievable weekend that didn’t resonate as life-altering until it was over. I fear that I’ll realize how cold, how very, very dark the realization of how the people I love are scattered so far away from me at any given time, and joining them together for one night is like unplugging a Whack-A-Mole game: it’s a falsified win. I’m scared to really think about how everyone will be in one room, and how it won’t happen again until I’m pale faced, dressed in my most respectable outfit and trapped inside a mahogany death box.
But most of all, I fear that I’ll be one of those people who Instagrams about their dress for the following six weeks because they feel it, the feeling that the greatest thing that ever happened to them, their singular happy moment of being so special and so loved slipping through their fingers as they try, try so hard to keep it alive, to keep it relevant so people still see it and still care before it all just becomes memories and tattered photos that people who weren’t there look at and try to imagine the background details of. From the moment it ends, the decor and colors and smells all fade, fade, fade away until the memory is hazy and only those two or three anecdotes still stick; an entire year of planning and entire lifetime of love whittled down into a photo and a story or two told from people who saw it with their own eyes to people who didn’t and will never know how magic it really was.
But then again, I’ll most likely dribble nacho cheese down the front of my dress, upset my mother greatly and no one will ever let me live to forget it.
Either way, I guess we’ll just have to see.