Last weekend I returned home to Colorado to see one of my oldest friends get married. I’ve probably said this on here before, but growing up I was mostly friends with boys. I had a big friend group in the theater department in high school because one day a boy named Dave, who was a junior, started eating lunch with me and my friend Audrey. He slowly brought us into a collective of people, some of whom are still my closest friends in the world. Of that group, four of my boys are now married [or are getting married this year]. Brenden was the first. He got married next to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon a year and a half ago. Garret was the second. He got married overlooking all of Boulder last summer. Dave was this weekend. He said his vows on the 38th floor of a hotel in Denver in front of a panoramic view of the place that raised us. Bryan is in a few months, in North Carolina, somewhere I’ve never been.
I’ve always felt torn about weddings. And marriage. I never really witnessed strong marriages growing up. Or at least not marriages that looked appealing in a way that inspired me to do that thing some little girls sometimes do, which is dream of their wedding day. I remember a little over a year ago, lying in bed with the man I loved for 12 years, telling him I wan’t sure if I ever wanted to get married. I have some friends who have been in committed long term relationships for longer than most marriages I’ve known, and I’ve interrogated them endlessly about their decision not to make it legal. We’d talked about getting married before, my partner and I. Talked about venues and first dance song possibilities. But I want to propose to you, he said after I’d finished my little anti-marriage speech. He used to tell me he couldn’t wait to call me his fiancée. When I tell my friends about this now, they always think it’s weird. That we talked so much about a future without ever actually solidifying the present. And I guess it is weird. But when all your friends are getting married, and when you’ve been in love with someone your entire adult life, and when that person finally comes to you and says there’s no one else he would ever want to be with, you, if you are me, take the present for what it is and assume the future will sort it all out. We broke up not even two weeks after that. This weekend, I watched him walk down the isle at Dave’s wedding as a groomsman with another of my oldest friends, a bridesmaid, a woman I refer to as my wife because of the time we got “married” in high school something like 10 years ago.
When I see my friends get married, I cry. I love seeing my friends happy. I love seeing my friends surrounded by our friends, surrounded by their friends, their family, celebrating. I love dancing with them until the venue kicks us out. I loved roasting hot dogs in a bonfire at the beach after Brenden and Breanne’s wedding. I loved wandering Pearl Street with Garret and his wife at midnight after their wedding. This weekend, I loved staying in the hotel bar until 4:30am with people I never get to see, people who are married and engaged and in love. Being around this much love overwhelms me. It negates the fear I have of ever putting myself in the vulnerable position of partner again.
The day after the wedding festivities ended, I went over to my friend Roxanne’s house. Hers was the first wedding I ever attended as an adult. I was 19 then I think, maybe 20. It was such an incredible wedding. It taught me what it means to be an adult in a relationship. I carried memories of that wedding with me into my future relationship, employed them when things were rough, and though that relationship ended, it wasn’t because the lessons I’d learned were faulty but because sometimes you have to know when to give up. And when you don’t give up, because you know how not to and because you wouldn’t ever, ever want to, well then you get a wedding like Dave & Kat’s, and you dance till your toes are numb, and you know that the only downside to weddings like this one is that they end. But that the upside is seeing your friends spending the rest of their lives together.