I’m a terrible bride.
In the moment, I’ll be beaming. I don’t know if, as I walk down the aisle toward my love, I will be giggling and skipping or not-so-quietly sobbing with grateful happiness. Perhaps both. I do not doubt this: on the day, I will be cleanly happy. Happy that I am marrying the man of my lifetime’s loving. And happy that the damned wedding planning is done.
This is how I am a terrible bride. I don’t take much pleasure in any of this planning. Oh, in the moment of each purchase and errand run and phone call, I find a way to connect with the people I am meeting. The young woman who fit me for a bra today just moved to Seattle from Rome, and I asked her all about her stay there, and where we should eat on our honeymoon. By the end, we were laughing. But if anyone expected me to be in girly tears because I was buying frilly underthings for our wedding night, I have to disappoint you. I was really just eager to reach the car and start the next errand.
You see, I already feel married to the Chef. Very much. We have lived and laughed and learned each other’s foibles for well over a year now. We knew as soon as we met that we would be together for the rest of our lives. For us, forever is just a series of moments. A daily choice to love each other. The marriage — of minds and palates — has already begun. We don’t need a marriage certificate to signify our commitment.
Besides, have you ever been to the office where the state dispenses marriage licenses? There is no less romantic place.
For us, our idea of this wedding has just been a big party, a chance to laugh and eat with our dear families and friends. All along, we have tried to approach it in a low-key, relaxed manner. We are having a potluck. The people who run one of our favorite restaurants in Seattle are roasting an entire lamb for us. Friends are playing music, taking photographs, and arranging flowers. There will be no garter ceremony or tossing of the bouquet. I feel certain that the wedding favors we decided to give to everyone we love are something no one else has ever given. As beautiful as my wedding dress makes me feel, I can’t wait to take it off and just dance, in my bare feet, with my love on the beach.
But I know this now: no matter how low-key you want this event to be, it’s still a wedding. And that’s a damned big deal.
If I had to do it all over again? I’d probably say, “Let’s get married in two weeks. Go!”
Of course, I have been doing much more than planning a wedding this year. Oh heavens, much more. But it has been in the back of my mind — and filling the pages of a Moleskine notebook — for almost a year now. The pages of that poor, battered notebook have been scarred with words and crossed-out phrases. Some edicts have trailed from page to page, never quite finished.
In one way or another, we have been planning one day of our lives for twelve solid months.
This is, to me, a fool-proof recipe for unhappiness.
Lately, I have been scattered and yowly as an alley cat at midnight. I buck and resist, I feel overwhelmed with phone calls to make, I wake up every morning with a list of things to do in my head. I have the attention span of a newt. A friend asked me today, “So, how’s the rest of your life besides the wedding.” I was silent. I couldn’t think of a thing. The Chef and I say I love you, every morning, our first words. But lately, the second and third words have been, “Honey, today before I take you to the restaurant, can we….” Anything to make those words in the notebook go away.
My favorite phrase of late has been, “…after the wedding.”
After the wedding. Ah.
But really, I want to be in the middle of the wedding celebrations. The Chef’s family — dear people whom I adore — are arriving in town on Friday. We will be at the Market, shopping for food, and cooking dinner together. Much laughter, of course. There will be a lunch on Saturday with both the sets of parents, and then a party my dear friend Sharon (of course she’s my maid of honor; we have been friends since we were fifteen) insists that I call my bachelorette party. On Sunday, we are having both families and our closest friends for a big barbeque. (This morning, we made ten jars of dill pickles from scratch.) And on Monday — six days from now — we will be married.
So it all really starts in three days.
You see, it’s not in my nature to spend an entire year planning one day. I want to live in the moment. I want to savor the surprises. I want to be amazed, continually. Planning something in a notebook and knocking off the tasks? It feels like a prison, of sorts.
I have been thinking about this Albert Einstein quote lately: “Americans are always becoming and never being.” Yes. (I’m sure that’s more than Americans now too.) This is exactly the way I do not want to live.
I can hear it in my head: “I’m a Buddhist. I don’t do this!” I want to be the peaceful one, the one who knows how to breathe past it and laugh into the tight places and be above all this silly bridal stuff.
Just this week, however, I realized the error of those ways. If this is my way of being at the moment, I have to be with it. I can’t wish to become something else.
Really, I just needed to put my hands in the earth.
On Sunday evening, the Chef and I brought home cartons of fresh herbs and a big bag of potting soil. Our lovely landlord left us more than a dozen enormous containers on the back deck, the day after I had told him that we wanted to plant some fresh herbs. For months now, we have been saying, “Oh, let’s have some herbs and snip our own plants into our food.” And for months, it has been an idea.
That’s the problem of all this. We have been swarmed and controlled by ideas. I haven’t been cooking much, mostly nibbling. Or we bring home food from the restaurant and eat it in bed at midnight. Recipes feel like another list to me, at the moment. (surely, most of you have noticed, I haven’t posted a recipe in ages.) I have so many great stories I have wanted to tell here — Clotilde in town for an event at the restaurant; driving David Lebovitz around all day on his book tour; going more than twenty-four hours without food at the Richmond airport — but without the time to write them, they have been more ideas pressing at the back of my head.
And so, instead of putting off what we had planned for months, we planted some herbs.
Immediately, I felt better. The peaty, tangy sweet smell of organic potting soil rose to my nose. I had dirt under my fingernails. The green leaves of the lime basil gleamed in the sunlight as I gently patted earth around the roots. The tall shoots of the chives plants rustled in the little breeze that blew through the backyard.
I looked over at the Chef, laying in the grass at the end of our planting session, his face illuminated by the golden light at the end of the day. My shoulders eased down. He grabbed the camera and took my photo. It occurred to me, for the first time: I don’t have to take self-portraits anymore. One of my favorite smells has always been the sun-warmed skin on my forearm at the end of a long summer day. Now, it is the smell of his. I looked up to see green grass, dazzling sunlight, and hazy air. It is, in the moment, summer. The long-anticipated season.
Looking over at the row of containers of herbs, my mind started racing with possibilities. Lemon verbena sorbet. Tarragon mayonnaise. Marjoram and oregano in pasta sauce. But quickly, I stopped myself. Later. Those were just ideas, again. Be here, now.
The sharp scent of rosemary, kind in its acrid greenness, brought me back.
Soon, I will be a bride. And then a married woman. In the moment of it, I will laugh, and feel grateful for all the planning that allowed that beautiful day to happen. Thankfully, even with all this planning, the Chef and I have been laughing. We haven’t fought once. We have been dancing.
That’s why I’m marrying him.
I’m just happy that I can stop imagining it and live it instead.