Wedding Weekend One

Posted on May 31, 2010


This summer I will attend five weddings, one a month from May to September.

I have plenty of dresses and shoes and cunning little purses to carry me through–as well as travel survival kits, since they are scattered all over the country–though I sometimes wonder if I have the emotional wherewithal to survive the schedule.

The wedding I went to in Boston this weekend was beautiful, with original poetry and harpsichord compositions and drag queens and roast duck. I didn’t cry during the ceremony and I danced my ass off at the reception. That’s about all you can ask from such an event, really.

This was a family wedding, and they come with their own set of challenges. Some people’s personalities grate along the well-worn pathways they’ve been grating along my whole life. Some childish myths persist (they don’t like me as well as the other cousins.) Some groupthink decisions–where should we have lunch how will we get there who’s organizing brunch–are hard to take as a person who lives alone and has been single forever. I forget how to go with the flow sometimes; with no one else in my life, I’m used to getting my way about small things.

It’s hard, too, to look at such a naked and vivid display of love when you are wandering in the desert a bit. There’s something brave and vulnerable about writing your own vows, about putting your tender feelings out there in front of everyone who is important to you. The grooms in this case are amazing, brilliant, beautiful and talented people who truly light up a room and will actually take the world by storm–they are doctors and humanitarians, engaged in the world and captivated by each other. The life they have together is one that you can’t help but envy, but it’s hard to feel jealous and small about it because they’re such good people.

I have a terrible habit, born of bad brain chemistry and years of self-denigration, of finding misery in other people’s joy. I’ve often joked that there should be a German word for it, the opposite of Schadenfreude; Sauergrapesen, perhaps. It is an unattractive quality, and one I’m trying both to keep under wraps and to banish. It definitely flared up this weekend, around all of these beautiful people with their beautiful lives, but I’m trying to turn it around and make it work for me. I see the beauty, I see what I want for myself, so I need to use these hard feelings to pull myself toward being the person I want to be instead of letting them fester and shut me down.

I had a sudden flash of insight that I’m trying to hold on to: Other people can only love you as much as you love yourself. If I want to bring more love and success into my life, I need to start very close to home.