Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Always, Always A ...

Weddings are in the air, and it is nice. I just bought our tickets to Dallas for my dear friend’s wedding in which I am honored beyond belief to be a bridesmaid. Yesterday I went to 47th street to help a friend choose her wedding bands, and the weekend before that I took the same friend wedding dress shopping. She was totally overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. I didn’t really know either, but I planned a day of appointments for her at boutiques for “inspiration” and we had a nice day – and she tried on two dresses that were positively breathtaking and I could see it in her face and we both teared up some. It is a very powerful archetype, the Bride: and the moments in life where you and an archetype align are powerful, powerful moments, no matter how that alignment is manifest. It’s sort of the way even though the Tarot is rendered in dozens of styles, the Tower retains its Tower-ness; the World remains immutably the World.

Another good friend of mine’s sister is getting married this summer, and has been telling me how both incredibly happy and incredibly stressed-out her sister has been, because so much of planning a wedding involves engaging with a whole complex of vendors and media whose job on some level is to make you feel guilty and afraid that unless you spend x-hundred dollars per head on napkin rings you are a failure. [On of my worst experiences with this was after our first meeting with a caterer who busted out menus that started at $150 pp for fucking HORS D’OEUVRES and this guy was a friend of a friend. I had a full-on panic attack and threw up on the street afterwards. Later I got it together and catered our wedding for much, much cheaper – but it was the moment when I felt the shameful burning rays of God’s Decoder Ring TM like police flashlights busting Shame Party 2005: Why don’t we have any money? Why do I not have credit cards at age 33? Why didn’t we save anything? Who do I think I am to deserve anything? ]

But the other side of the wedding shame spiral is the shame women are made to feel at being anything APPROACHING a “Bridezilla.” God, I fucking hate that term. Our whole culture makes such a big deal out of getting married: to even TRY to have any kind of wedding involves engaging to some degree with the businesses and media surrounding weddings [many members of which are very nice and amazing – where I found my dress, for example, or the person who did our flowers] and then to top it all off, as a bride to be you are severely restricted in how much you are allowed to talk about this big event or OMFG you might be an asshole. All the women I know including myself have/ had internalized this shame, and it sucks. Why can’t you talk about a big party you are throwing involving a huge life change and celebration with your family and community? Whether it’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral or an impromptu flash mob on Coney Island, it’s a big deal! You are allowed to feel weird about it, happy about it, process it, figure out your take on it, and talk about it! Leave it up to America to find yet another Womanhood Catch-22 to make women feel guilty and silenced and shitty about a day that is a celebration of a choice that they’ve made.

I guess this comes from feeling protective of my friends who are going through this process because I remember how strongly it affected me, how much I felt like The Velveteen Bride, unable to run and play with the real brides, or whatever. Feelings of illegitimacy and isolation are something I’ve been struggling with for 25 years now, and although now I pretty much have the upper-happily-ever-after-hand, they surge back every now and again, in a wave of hot tears, or a strong kinaethestic compulsion to impale my heart on a stake. [I really wonder where that come from, actually, but it has been there forever, a sucking feeling in my chest that cries out to be stabbed like an itch needing scratching. Does anyone else have this? Is there an AutoHeartStabber's Anonymous?] Now it’s something I give a little space to, it doesn’t rule my life, nothing special, like birthmarks. I guess having lived in the grip of idiopathic shame for so long I want to keep it away from anyone I love, like Ripley yelling get away from her you bitch!

To be always a bride is to be always choosing the unknown over the safe, to choose vulnerability over cynicism, to choose throwing a party over freeloading, to choose giving your parents another shot over blaming them forever, to choose Yes I said Yes I will Yes and Let’s Go! One foot in front of the other, holding some flowers so I won’t stab myself in the heart.


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