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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Singlutionary Wedding

I've been working a lot of weddings lately as catering staff. This is something I did after college for extra money and something I'm now doing again in order to get my new adventures off the ground.

I generally dislike weddings mainly because I fail to comprehend them --- why would you ask people to come from all over the world and then just talk about how you love one person more than them? But I also secretly dislike them because I've never had one.

A wedding may not be something that every little girl wants but I certainly did. I wanted to get to wear the big wonderful dress and have all my friends together and I wanted to have all the beautiful lights in the trees and tulle dancing in the breeze and the candles and the music and the sense of community and the sheer beauty of it. I've always been interested in creating beautiful spaces and beautiful events and the wedding event is the epitome of these things.

Of course I grew up in an unconventional family and a slightly unconventional community so as a little girl I felt completely free to imagine my wedding pretty much groom-less and I did. In many ways the groom is absent in most little girl's fantasies of their own wedding. It is about the dum-dum-da-dum and the dress and the flowers and the bridal party more than anything else. My fantasy wedding would include a multi-family improv show in lieu of a ceremony and feature a performance by Marilyn Manson at the reception and would take place in the very same location where Jurassic Park was filmed.

The wedding I was working last night was deeply conventional in a Texas twang kind of way. The outdoor ceremony began with the lords prayer and the reception (which was held in a barn) featured country music (most of which included the word "Texas" in the song). The bride and groom ended the night by running a gauntlet of sparklers -- the bride, of course, in cowboy boots. And somewhere during this evening while I oversaw a buffet of sliders was this: I would have gotten married and lived a "conventional" life if that life had been presented to me.

I always think that somehow it is a different breed of person who gets married in her early-mid 20s and has 2.5 children and lives in a single family home with a flawless front lawn. I've always felt like some kind of an outsider to that life -- like a little girl window shopping for her future but never being permitted to enter the store.

What I realized last night is that what I have done in my life and what I haven't done has nothing to do with the kind of human I am. I am not a different breed of person who is immune to a more conventional lifestyle. If given the opportunity to live a more usual life, I would have jumped at it. I would have worn the white dress down the isle with the candles and the flowers and the tulle and I would have rode off into the sunset in whatever kind of footware was appropriate for my location and my upbringing.

In many ways I was taught and I accepted that a wedding is the beginning of adult life. But what happens when you're well into adulthood and there is no wedding in sight?

My life has presented me with singleness just as other people lives present them with a spouse or partner. And being single has made me who I am just as being married has made others who they are. It isn't a singles vs. coupled world that we live in. It is simply a human vs. sacrifices world. Are we going to live our dreams even if they make no sense or are we going to give into the comfort and stability of the daily grind? Which do we want? Most likely a little of both.

Do I still dream of my improv-show/controversial-yet-oddly-eloquent-celebrity-performance/dinosaur-landscaped wedding? Yes. Do I still dream of me going it alone in the beautiful dress on top of some rock outcropping with the sun setting into the ocean and then ride off into the sunset on a tulle clad brontosaurus? Yes. Do I have the energy to ever pull this off? Maybe. But for right now there is a dirty car that needs to be washed and baby chickens that need to be integrated with the big birds and a dog with too-long toe nails and a new business endeavor to start tomorrow.


Bryan said...


I don't usually comment but I thought I'd say thank you for posting. I agree that there seems to be a different path for those that get married in their mid twenties and it wasn't my path either. I'm 31 now. Sometimes I feel judged for not ever being married. And while there were certainly choices involved I don't regret any of it. Like you the other choice wasn't really available.

Stevi said...

It is so true that as a little girl the wedding fantasy doesn't really include a groom. haha.

another thought.....
The problem in Utah is most people get married TOO young. So you can't win. You start becoming "old" by 24-25 if your a girl. Crazy...

Akirah said...

I JUST blogged about this. I feel the same way about weddings, but I can't tell if that's jealousy or not. It's hard to accept the many young people who are experiencing right now what I have been fantasizing about since childhood. But I guess I've been having some new fantasies lately.

The Singlutionary said...

Bryan: Thank you for commenting! I don't regret any of my life either but it is strange to suddenly find that life has taken me on such a different path than I ever expected. I never gave it much thought until now in many ways. I always thought my friends were obscenely young to be married and I still feel that way -- even when they've been together for 10 years. Maybe I am a late bloomer or maybe I am just blooming in other ways.

Stevi: YES. Folks in Utah do get married young AND fast. I remember that. People would be engaged after a month. I felt like I was getting too old to be married by the time I was in my mid-20s even NOT living in Utah. I think it depends on the folks around you and what they're doing with their lives. I've felt the social pressure for some time now. But I hold it off -- it is one reason I write this blog -- so I can have a secret sacred corner of my life where being single is 100% acceptable and awesome.

Akirah: I tried to catch up on blogs last night but I might have just missed your post. I will go check it out as you are always insightful. And YES to new fantasies. The wedding is one day but marriage is a lifetime that I am not ready for. I think that if we look at WHY we wanted the wedding (for me it was the grand celebration of MY life with friends and family and beauty all around) then it feels a little less monumental to NOT have a wedding.

Amy said...

"why would you ask people to come from all over the world and then just talk about how you love one person more than them?"

Love that part.

I'm at that age now when all of my friends are getting married. I know everyone complains about being in weddings but I feel like it's the best of both worlds. Do I secretly hope I'll be the center of attention one day? Sure. But I'm also really happy to play a part in their "special day" without all of the stress and expense involved with being the bride.

Megs said...

It's funny because I was just thinking about this the other day. Actually not this, but the normal life thing. I'm in so much turmoil right now with everything in my life that I just want to scream. I often think why am I not married (actually I think why am I so single) this would be so much easier if I just stayed in my small town and got married like my sisters. I would have babies now. I would be just like everyone. The thing is that as much as I wish I had it "easy" (I mean no one has it easy, really) I wouldn't change anything. Yes, this life is driving me crazy right now and I often wish I could just curl up in a ball and disappear for like a million years, but in the end my normal will be awesome even if it is me by myself. I wouldn't have it any other way because honestly the other ways seem boring.

Mikki said...

Ive always wanted the wedding, and i planned just like any other little girl. Though, i did include the groom; it was always patrick swayze *sigh*

I am the only single girl i know. It stinks. My female friends never want to go do anything, they want to spend the evening with their husbands. There are so many things i want to do, concerts trips events, but its not as much fun alone. Part of the reason i feel i want to find someone to date is so i can do the things i want to do in life that require a partner.
Lame, but life is more fun when you have someone to share those experiences with.

speaking of weddings, are we going to get a recap of your india trip?

The Singlutionary said...

Amy -- I am so glad that you can enjoy weddings. Most of my friends married at such a young age that I wasn't really able to enjoy them or handle the stress or finances that went along with being even a distant participant. This summer I am officiating a wedding and at first I thought it would be fun -- this is the first wedding I've attended in a while -- but the timing is bad. Speaking of expense: its nuts!! I can hardly pay my bills. I have no idea how I would afford a wedding.

Megs-- I often think it would be so much easier if I had lived this typical life and done things in a more typical pattern. Instead I am creating my own path. At once I thought it was such a romantic notion. There is some quote. Let me find it: “Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking” (Antonio Machado). Someone, an actress, quoted that to me when I was 18 years old and I felt this certain sense of destiny that I was walking my own path. I had no idea then that eventually it would make me (at least half the time) feel utterly out of synch with the world and (a good portion of the time) feel isolated from society.

Mikki-- HAHHHHAHHHHA. If your groom was Patrick, I had a lot of them . . . Leo, All of the NKOTB, etc.

I miss the friendships that came before weddings. Although I have found such a delightful community through writing this blog, I haven't found as strong of a single girl community in my daily life. Of course, I've moved a lot and often know people in some kind of transition so friendship often requires long distance-ness. Couple that with the financial instability of the past 2 years and, yes, it is rare to find someone who is ready/willing/able to go on a roadtrip or to a concert. Often I am the one who is too poor or too exhausted at the end of the day.

And, as far as the india trip goes. . . . that might fall into the too exhausted category for now! But eventually, stories will emerge.


Sixty and Single in Seattle said...

Really enjoyed this post. Thank you. And when you speak of wedding fantasies that only tangentially include a husband, I thought of my sister Sarah who as a little girl announced that when she got married, she and her husband were going to Grandma's for the honeymoon and staying up all night!

I guess it was kind of like when you imagine heaven to be whatever are your favorite things at the moment.

Just heard my short-story teacher this morning reminiscing with stars in his eyes about the first time he saw the woman who is, 44 years later, still his wife, walking into the restaurant with her long blonde hair. So I guess this means it's all magic, and can happen at any moment. Right?

The Singlutionary said...

There is something magic about getting married AND being able to truly celebrate all your other true loves at the same time -- like grandma!

I think this is what, on some level, all of us think of when we think of weddings.

When this does happen (and it is a rare thing, I think), it truly is magic.

And yes, there must be magic everywhere! If only I could see it!

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Special K said...

How many times have I reflected on my "singleness?" Just this week again I re-realized that I feel ASHAMED that I am single. As if I am doing something wrong. Why is this? I was lonely this week, and probably would have been lonely if I was married as well, but somehow one comment, "do you think you're ready for a relationship?" made me feel a bit...off. Like I need to be fixing something about me. Be more outgoing, more focused, more heavy, more flirtatous...more SOMETHING.
I would be just as happy now as if I had some one, I know...it would just be a different kind of happiness