I’ll never forget that red light.
I sat next to my maid of honor in my teal Ford Escort, laughing about the Teeny Beanie Baby in the McDonald’s Happy Meal. There was really nothing too funny about that little ladybug filled with tiny plastic “beans”. In my head, I felt the eyes of all the passengers and drivers sitting in the lanes around us, peeping into the windows at the young bride driving down the road in her veil, and I couldn’t help but laugh. “What a sight I must be.”
Much of that night is lost to me forever, wrapped up a blur of faces, emotions and a lovely, antique white French bustle. Only a handful of moments from that day have stained my mind like spilled red wine.
Walking arm-in-arm with my Daddy. Popping up onto my toes for our first kiss as man and wife. Standing alone with my groom, after it was all said and done, and feeling — for just an instant — like we’d just met again for the first time. First dances, hugs from favorite relatives, a stream of toasts, and smiling till my face hurt.
In the honeymoon suite, bird seed rained down as I hunted and picked for all the hidden pins, my deep brown hair spilling below my shoulders. Even in those moments, the memory of the night we’d lived was fuzzy. How was it possible that it had only been one day since the rehearsal?
Now, thirteen years later, my memories of that day have hardly changed, though our lives certainly have. When you’re just a few weeks shy of twenty-three, it’s all so vague. “Marriage” seems entirely abstract, despite the fact that you’ve witnessed marriages succeed, and marriages fail, all around you for your entire life. At thirty-six though, marriage is more real than the wedding day. Mortgages, jobs, laundry, grocery shopping, health and family. It is the air we breathe each day, from the moment we wake to the moment we wake again.
The wedding? It’s all so vague, with only pictures to prove it ever really was at all.
Mais, il m’aime encore, et je l’aime un peu plus fort.