So…I got married.
We got married.
The wedding was beautiful, and perfect, and everything I had hoped it would be. All the excellent parts were better than I had dreamed, and nothing was disappointing because I had mapped out all the potential for All That in advance.
Is that weird?
Before you judge me for saying that out loud, try managing your expectations before some big event. (Hint: The holidays are coming). Try not expecting a drop more from people than they typically produce, just because it’s a Big Occasion, and They Should Be On Their Best Behaviour.
For instance, if the average orange yields 3oz of juice on an ordinary day, than there is absolutely no reason to believe people will be Extraordinary Oranges on special occasions. Rather, people will be nervous, or petulant, or self-interested, or any number of other things that will impair their juice production. At best, they will produce the same amount of juice as usual. But you’re definitely not getting a half-gallon out of them simply because you’re the one getting married – it’s against the laws of nature!
My brother is not…an experienced traveller. He was booked on an 7:00am flight out of LAX the day before our wedding, which he missed. I had fully prepared for this – in part, because Matthew is a poor traveller. But also because that’s my brother. Before he left, I had inputted his flight details into an app I use to track travel simply because it spits out “Alternative Flight Options” in the event he missed his plane.
Which he did.
Which was how I wound up spending hours on the phone with American Airlines the day before my wedding and not writing my toast or vows.
Which is not to say I expected any different, rather, it is to say that the whole endeavour took up slightly more time than budgeted towards “Matthew’s Potential/Likely Screw Ups.” Save for my own lack of foresight in time-budgeting, the entire weekend was perfect. And I did (eventually) find time to write the vows.
But when the moment came for me to give the toast, which I’d decided to give cold, the best man and wedding planner came to me with the microphone and I looked around the room – this ancient farmhouse filled with everyone I love, and decorated with roses, and thistles, and reminders of the Sierras – I realised I didn’t need to say anything more.
And what I am further saying is this:
When I was a very little girl, I loved this movie called Pete’s Dragon. If you’re a child of the 70s or 80s, you probably know it well. In fact, I still love Pete’s Dragon.
If you know the film, you know that there are several stories within the main story – one of them being that Nora, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, is holding out hope that the sailor she loves will one day return home. He has presumably been shipwrecked and lost at sea. I watched that film throughout my whole childhood and adolescence, holding out hope that I too would find someone worthy of a ballad like the one Helen Reddy belts from the lighthouse.
Before Paul and I got married, I read through my old journals – partly out of curiosity, and partly out of wondering what my marital hopes and dreams had once been many years ago, and how accurate my predictions for myself might have turned out to be. Until then, I had mostly forgotten about my youthful obsession with Pete’s Dragon; I had even somehow forgotten that Nora had been holding out hope for a seemingly impossible to find Paul.
And I had not realised that I had once written: I wonder if I will ever love anyone like that. I wonder if I will spend my life searching for my own Paul and if I will ever find him. Or if I will be disappointed.
I had found him. And that was really all that mattered, wasn’t it?
As I looked around the room at the moment I didn’t give my toast, on that one, perfect Autumn day, it was if I had finally accepted that I had never had to be perfect and Paul would still be waiting. My family and friends would have been there no matter what.
And it dawned on me that maybe it’s true that you’re not guaranteed great results simply because you’re planning a special occasion. Maybe the result you get from people is a direct product of the love you put in.
I was lucky then, on our wedding day, to be blessed like a California girl might hope to be: Surrounded by Extraordinary Oranges.