November 14, 1997

wedding

I’m standing alone in a wood panel room, staring with unfocused eyes at the thin, taught carpet that barely veils the concrete floor beneath it. There are people coming in and out of the room; dressing, preparing, talking casually. I haven’t slept in a couple days and I’ve got that kind of surreal, out-of-body tunnel vision that you only get when you’ve pushed yourself past your limit. I don’t really know how long I’ve been standing there, but a voice behind me breaks my gaze and calls my attention back. It’s my mother’s voice; she says, “It’s time.”

I’m standing at the front of a large room. I’m surrounded by candles and flowers and loved ones. There are almost 500 people in this room but all eyes are on me; watching as I wait. I still don’t know how much time has passed and I’m distracted by questions like, “do these flowers look the way she hoped?” and “what kind of cake did we ask for again?” The piano player begins – he’s rushing the song; hitting each stroke correctly but in a way that tells me he thought he remembered this song better so he chose to not practice it before the ceremony. It’s one of our songs and I wish that it was being played with all the gravity that it holds for us, but I also realize that neither of us realized beforehand that she wouldn’t be in the room for this part anyway.

We’re standing side by side in front of everyone. Both of our fathers stand before us and I’m trying to remember how she got there – it seems like it happened so fast. Our fathers take turns speaking, first to the room and then to us. We recite the words that we’ve both heard our fathers say countless times when others were standing where we are now. We chose to use these words because we knew that they held a depth that our young minds could not likely improve on. The whole process feels like another practice run and I worry about whether or not the audio person will time our exit song well enough to have the surprise impact we laughed so hard about when the idea first struck us. Each time our eyes meet I know that all I really want is for this to be over so that it can just be the two of us alone again.

We’re standing in another room, much smaller this time. Most of the people from the large room have fit themselves inside this tiny one and there is music and food and dancing and I’m amazed that any of the traditions we planned get accomplished.

We’re standing in the middle of the room; our friend Travis is singing and we’re dancing alone. The smell of her hair and the feeling of her lace jacket brushing against my chest are the only things I notice for a few moments. I know that everyone is watching and I want to do something spontaneous and charming – but I know I didn’t plan anything and don’t want to ruin this moment, so I just whisper to her and then invite everyone else out onto the floor to join us.

I’m standing in our hotel room, looking out the window at the unseasonably early snow that’s falling. I’m glad to be alone with her finally and I know I should feel anxious, but I don’t. The weight of the new ring on my finger feels odd and foreign and I wonder if we should have gone with something slimmer and less dramatic for the sake of comfort.

She’s standing in front of me and we’re staring at each other. Her soft, red velvet pajama pants and thin, sheer camisole barely veil the pale slender body beneath it. This will be the first time that we are together.

We sit on the bed together, not wanting to rush, but also waiting for something. The snow is still falling and at 11pm I turn on the radio. My friend Josh is a DJ at the local radio station and has agreed to play our song for us at that moment as a surprise.

“Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am home again……whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am whole again…..I will always love you.”

Despite the novelty of the gesture, it is quickly forgotten; we become one.

  3 comments for “November 14, 1997

  1. Eric D Hulet
    November 14, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Awesome, as always.

  2. Nanci McAlister
    November 14, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    I love your writing – masterful.

  3. November 15, 2016 at 1:26 am

    You are not supposed to make your mother cry.

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