Wedding Weekend Three: Mini-Apple and the Big Chill

Posted on August 2, 2010

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“You know what I hate?” I confide as we thread our way out of the pub, past throngs of boisterous Midwesterners perspiring and lawn bowling.  “People I don’t know.”

“Me too!” he exclaims, thrusting an arm out to forge a path.  “And you know what I hate even more? Meeting new people.”

“Oh my god, totally,” I agree.  For a city known for brutal winters, it is hot as hell tonight.  I’m bailing early because I can’t stop sweating on the breezeless top tier of the bar.

“I just assume right away that I’m going to hate them–” he continues.

“And that they will hate me.”  We finish in unison, laughing.

“You should see how fun dating is when you operate from this perspective,” I say wryly.

There is no one in my life I’ve known longer than the people I spent the weekend with.  So many of my best and most formative experiences and keenest, knife-like regrets are bound up with them; when I see them again after a long absence, I’m always momentarily shocked not to see the raw, plaid-shirt wearing teenagers I learned to love in 1993, when the whole world was opening up to me like a flower.

We speak in shorthand: How are things with your sister?  I miss thinking of you together.  How’s your health?  Your mom’s?  Can you believe I still haven’t met the Alabama grandma?  Are you writing?  He was prom king, you know.  Oh my god, I forgot about those damn Tevas!  Let me hold that baby. Take our picture.  I want you to know each other. The medication helps.  What was the name of that one guy, with the overalls…

It’s water under the bridge, and it’s yesterday.  Sometimes we don’t speak for a year, but when we’re together it’s instantly familiar.  I feel pangs of terrible sadness that we aren’t closer now, that I’m not in New York with everyone else, and washes of gratitude that there are people who know me like this, who knew me better than anyone when I started shedding my old self all those years ago.

Always, before I see them, I fret, wishing that I were a different person.  I wish I had a big, fabulous life that would blow everyone away.  I’m not the one with the big job changing the world.  I’m not the one who got the guy and has the baby to prove it.  I don’t have a law degree.  I’m not the one with the seven figure salary, a house on Long Island and a pied-a-terre in the city.  Honestly, it never occurred to me that any of that was within my grasp, because it never really was.  I don’t think you can strive for things you can’t even imagine exist. I’m the one who didn’t graduate 13 years ago, and who accidentally slept through lunch on Saturday.  Maybe the parameters of who I am are immutable; I don’t know.

We planned a fall weekend in the Poconos, and swore it will be annual.  I had wished so hard that Lieu would be my date to this wedding; I don’t dare imagine that I might have someone to bring this fall.  But I know that even as the token single girl, who pays double for her room, and screws up the reservation by making the table odd-numbered, and sometimes needs to stay in bed and brood a bit while the happy couples ponder which egg dishes to split and coo over coffee, as long as we’re together I’m loved with great perspective, underachieving self-hater that I am.  It takes a long time to know that deep down, where it counts, but I do.

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