Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Party Line

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School let out last week. Since I will not be going back, I took an armful of my papers and used notebooks and dumped them into the recycle bin outside my house. "Looks like someone is all finished with exams," my neighbor called out warmly. She was standing in her yard with a trowel in her hand. "Now you can focus on wedding planning!"

I responded with something airy and positive, then I ducked back into my house.  The truth is that I'd rather be locked in a classroom with the morose professor berating us about our "remarkable, unprecedented incompetence" (his words) than thinking about a big party that I decided to throw in a remote corner of the country, two years after I moved away from Seattle and lost contact with nearly everyone I knew there. 
My friends like to remind me that regardless of what happens on the day itself, I'm still going to end up married to David. (David, who received their enthusiastic stamp of approval within five minutes of meeting, even from Colleen, who takes a perverse pleasure in disliking everyone; David, the most candid and kind and generally likable person I've ever met.)  

That's the party line. I've said it myself over the years, to half a dozen harried girlfriends grappling with guest lists, to my best friend Lisa as she cried for hours in my shitty apartment in Ballard for reasons that I simply couldn't fathom at the time. I was single, loaded with friends, acutely aware that none of my attempts at dating were panning out, completely jealous that she was so far ahead of me in this one aspect of life. "But you're going to be married to Colt, Lisa!" I said, dabbing at her eyes with a paper towel. "MARRIED! That's what it's all about!" 

And it's true. It's mostly true. But as it turns out, the wedding is also about publicly exposing, for the first time (I like to think) my most tender and top-secret insecurities, the ones that I've kept fastidiously tucked away since I was twelve. Those demons surface every year in March when I'm planning my birthday party (WHAT IF NOBODY COMES? THEN WHAT? YOU WILL BE SO SAD) but only within my own head. It's an imitate battle that nobody has to know about. Other then that, they remain very much in check. Of course, one reason for that is that I never plan anything, no type of social gathering, not even a casual backyard BBQ. (WHAT IF NOBODY COMES? THEN WHAT? YOU WIL BE SO SAD.)
And then comes the Wedding Season, and if I'm to believe the magazines, the blogs, the stories, the ubiquitous emails (how are these companies getting my address? Where did I go wrong?) tradition dictates that we are to have an engagement party, a wedding shower and the bachelor parties in addition to the actual thing. It's like asking people to show up to three birthday parties in the weeks before your big super-duper blow-out birthday party. That's four years worth of social anxiety rolled into one season. 

We're not doing any of that. Thank goodness. 

We are having a lovely wedding in Vermont. It's going to be beautiful. But at this moment, this temporary and evanescent moment, it does not feel lovely. It feels like a sweaty balancing act between my worst social fears and the overblown cultural expectations of this whole thing. ("Oh for crying out loud!" said Colleen, whose advice often makes you feel worse before you feel better, but to her credit it does eventually get you there. "You're having a wedding in Vermont and the tickets are expensive, don't take it so damn personally!") 

I know, I know. And if you had no idea that I was this insecure, well, it came as a surprise to me too, buddy. 

Somewhere inside the beige, stucco walls of the shitty apartment on 65th street, the Melina from two years ago is having a marvelous laugh.  
find me and the dog on instagram @melinadream


Casey Toby said...

Ah yes, the anxiety surrounding The Wedding. I knew my husband was the one when he said to me in the first week of us even dating and Talking that he wanted to get married on an island in the Caribbean. It was the best wedding I could've even imagined. No shoes allowed, a simple but beautiful white dress, just me and him and our closest friend vacation couple in Barbados. And then a quick change and under the water 80 feet we went. Hands down, the best day of my life. And yes, being married to your best friend is absolutely worth it. Abso-fucking-lutely. Good luck, and xanax/valium your way through it ;)

Kirsten Gardner said...

Colleen is giving you true though harsh advice. I had to decline nearly every wedding invitation I received this summer....including one I desperately wanted to attend since I love that crazy girl (even though she is a staunch republican) because going into debt to attend weddings seems a bit dumb. It doesn't mean people don't love you. Good luck with the planning and anxiety - it does seem to be an awful lot of hullabaloo to wrangle!

Jaime said...

I feel like insecurities come out of nowhere, and it is impossible to anticipate them. That being said. I've thrown a lot of parties. Some of the best ones have had the fewest guests. Quantity certainly isn't the end all be all. I will say something to keep in mind during the whole planning process. Things will go wrong. And those will be the most memorable. When I graduated from college, I had family flying in from everywhere. A big dinner was planned to celebrate. As we were driving to the restaurant, a severe storm hit and knocked out the power. Trees were blocking roads. It was a disaster. Luck had it that the restaurant had a wood fire grill and said they could still serve us. By candlelight, my closest family and friends drank an insane amount of alcohol, and literally had the best night of our lives. Embrace this journey. The good and bad. It should be fun. The only expectations you have to meet are your own. I can't wait to see pictures. I know it will beautiful!

Jen said...

Wedding planning is the worst. I got married last summer with a very casual ceremony and reception...I wanted it easy and casual to avoid the stress and anxiety. And yet? There was still SO much stress and anxiety! What if people don't come? What if they think the party is lame? What if they are bored? What if it's all terrible?? Well, it turned out to be the best day of my life. Everything went smoothly and many people told me it was the most fun wedding they had ever been to. So, from one anxious person to another, you already know we fret over things that aren't worth fretting over. It will be a great day and you'll have a blast. But...I understand the anxiety anyway. Wishing you the best!

Anna Lola V said...

I will come, and there could be nothing but you and me and your parents and David and a little bit of food and a lot of beer and we'll all still be deliriously happy and remember it as the best day ever! xo.(P.S. Love your honesty, always.)

Sri said...

You just made me realize why I dont plan many parties! Anxiety.

In my mind I'm super social, throwing fun amazing parties, but in reality I'm no where close.

The morning of the wedding I literally said out loud "fuck-it, I'm going to enjoy my wedding no matter what happens" and I truly enjoyed it!

Try to enjoy and write about all of it, anxiety, frustration, fun, cake, all of it.

Anonymous said...

Your honesty slays me. I can't get enough of your posts.

colleen said...

that about sums it up. <3

carolyn said...

Your wedding is going to be wonderful because it is going to be you and David. Everything will fall into place around you. when I hit my budget I literally stopped planning even though there were things we needed, my grandpa ended up at Stanford with emergency surgery days before and missed the wedding but it was great anyways. I got my guy. all the right people will be there!

Emily Hackethorn said...

Oh Melina! It was almost 5 summers ago when James and I got married, but when we did, the site A Practical Wedding really helped me- see what you think. They have expanded a bunch since then, but something about reading those essays really calmed me down when planning our wedding and helped me focus on US and making a celebration that reflected us, making me more creative with the whole thing. I hear you on the stress and anxiety- there were so many considerations that I stayed up late thinking about- the bridesmaids, who to invite, having organic food, good music, dessert... and trying to make everyone feel included who wanted to be. We ended up not inviting some people- some high school friends & more recent acquaintances, mainly because it was at my Grandparent's and I didn't want to overwhelm my family with tons of people. Then, when we set up chairs for the ceremony, we had empty rows. It has always bugged me that I didn't just invite everyone as the people pleaser I am, or at least do my math on the chairs. Just one of those things ... It was also nice to feel like I connected a little with everyone there that night. the fact that you two are willing to do this TOGETHER is amazing and it's just one big hurdle which makes you stronger for all of life's other challenges along your road of life together. xo

meg@ourwaytoeat.com said...

I'll come to your lovely Vermont wedding if your silly friends don't. In all honesty, my law partner didn't attend my wedding and I haven't really forgiven it, but my best friend who couldn't make it, I forget she wasn't there, because the hole in my wedding party was filled with her spirit and love. I called the season you are in, The Season of my Wedding Hysteria. It became acceptable to call my Mom at 4 in the morning to discuss something I was stressing about, to spend HUNDREDS on postage, and I skipped the bachelorette party thing and the engagement party thing, and life was still insane, but our friends still tell us stories of all the fun they had. I had fun, but it really brought out the controlling side of me. I'm happy with the memories, and glad it is over. Still in love with my groom and honeymooning, after almost 6 years. That's what matters, and from the sound of it, that is what you'll get with David.

Amanda said...

It will be a fabulous celebration, and you will laugh when you remember how stressed out you were, how crazy you felt to plan a wedding while finishing school and cramming for work and everything else. Why take on so much? It won't matter. You'll be so proud of yourself when you realize that you stuffed all that worry aside and did it anyway. Breathe and enjoy :)

Your honest writing continues to inspire. Thank you!

Jo-ska said...

Hi Melina! I really really love your blog. You are a very fine writer-so honest, multi-layered, so interesting. Your life is so different from mine, but I am hooked on your adventures and you help me broaden my horizons. A real talent. Question...perhaps I may have missed the explanation, but why have you decided to stop nursing school?

Jo-ska said...

And congratulations on your upcoming wedding!!! I completely understand your anxiety. We are common law with 2 kids and we've been together 18 years. One of the reasons is that I COULD NEVER handle the stress of a wedding day!!! Sending you lots of calming vibes and a fantastic celebration. You are the cutest couple.

Sian said...

I was the same about my wedding but it really was amazing.

I wanted to run away from all the decisions and stresses of planning. I wanted small and simple but things kept growing.

Just before I walked down the isle I felt sick. What I am doing it this massive dress, about to possibly stumble/trip/puke/stutter in front of 70 or so people?? But the moment I walked out I heard gasps and I saw all my best friends and family beaming at me. It wasn't because I was the most beautiful bride ever it was because all my favorite people in the whole world loved me and were in the same place being happy for me. Suddenly I got it and I felt wonderful. Plus you're right, at the end of it all I was married to my best friend. That was about 9 years ago and i'm still happy x

Emily said...

Getting married July 11. To the best person I know. And if one more person reminds me that no matter what happens, we'll be married so it will all be fine, I AM GOING TO PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE.

Because you know what? Whether or not I will end up married to him WE STILL HAVE TO FUCKING HAVE CHAIRS FOR PEOPLE, OK??

Also... guilt and shame for being stressed/grumpy about something that is basically wonderful... does not decrease the stress. Shocker.