Sunday February 15th, 2015.
I’m not getting married today.
Just like the character Amy sings in my favorite musical, Stephen Sondheim’s Company, “I’m not getting married today.” She goes on:
A wedding? What’s a wedding? It’s a prehistoric ritual where everybody promises fidelity forever, which is maybe the most horrifying word I ever heard of.
It’s a bit ironic, my posting this song and writing about it today. But it’s an inside joke I share only with myself. You see I am the one lamenting not getting married, rather than being terrified about it, like Amy is. The fear and paralysis are, were? are? HIS MO. In my heart of hearts, this is the day the big wedding would have taken place. The Sunday of President’s Day weekend, when I would usually fly out to Scotland and we’d have a night or two in the Highlands, taking the gorgeous drive through national parks and mountains.
The event of my wedding would have brought all my family and friends to bonnie Scotland for a weekend of camaraderie and sharing of traditions and celebrations. I didn’t let myself get too carried away with logistical details. But I did imagine the possibilities of a lovely Shabbat dinner, a Saturday afternoon field trip to the Loch Ness official Visitor Center and museum, perhaps a Scottish country dance class (in preparation for the proper Ceilidh - pronounced “kaylee") and a Saturday night talent show and loving roast/toast to the unlikely couple that we were. A Scotsman/sports journalist who loved horse racing (and the bets that go with it) and the Black Crowes aligned with a Jewish girl from New York who loves Broadway musicals and shoes. And what an exciting partnership it would have continued to be… if only one of us had more to give and/or the other could get out of his own way just enough to move forward.
I didn’t speak much about these fantasies. I alluded to them surely, convincing my family to postpone the family vacation by a year (in case we all needed to travel abroad for another reason), I plotted what our interfaith ceremony could look like. Who needed to be involved, how to bridge the traditions. The pile of books on that subject lie quietly on a shelf in my hallway closet. I can’t bring myself to read or get rid of them. Besides, who knows, I might need them later on. I spoke to my friends about certain details that might be relevant to them, “save up!” I’d say. “You might have to travel a few times for me.” Knowing that with citizenship and faith issues at hand there would likely need to be a courthouse wedding in New York, the Scottish country extravaganza, and perhaps also a reception in southern California for my parents’ community.
It’s been nearly a year since the break-up but parts of it still come as a shock to me. I find myself consistently instinctively defending (against whose voice?) that I didn’t make this up! We had real conversations about kilts and locations, traditions and leadership roles. I have the cards in his tiny handwriting that say “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I have the brochures from the immigration attorney, detailing our options for his legal residence and paths for employment. But nobody doubts the authenticity but me. I simply can’t make sense of the situation that came to pass. Probably because there is no way to make sense of it. I met a man when I was traveling. Against all odds, we fell in love. We dreamed of a life together and then it fell apart. Break-ups happen all the time. Everyone has a story of heartbreak. Some cut deeper, whether from the seriousness of the relationship lost or the constitution of the individual coping, but it’s the oldest story in the book. Boy meets girl. Boy loves girl. Boy loses girl. So why oh why is it so hard to move past?
My body is attacking me. My sinuses, throat and nasal cavities are inflamed, making it hard to speak, breath, or sing -my most favorite and special form of personal expression. Joan, my therapist, says this is likely my unconscious mind screaming out to my conscious mind, forcing me to deal with things. I resent this terribly. First of all, what else can there be left to deal with? My friends and family have watched me go through the past year step by step. Quietly crying to certain songs. Resolutely not calling or emailing the man in Scotland. Going through a depression and frustration with my life so profoundly it affected my job stability. Marking each milestone of time gone by and occasion of birthday/holiday/etc with the same conversation over and over again. “I miss the relationship more than him… This is so hard… I never imagined I would be this old and still single… I refuse to give up Scotland… It still hurts… How can he allow his fear to win over all the possibilities we had together…” and on and on and on. And here we are. Today is the day I thought I would be married.
The last time I thought about this date, a couple months ago, it seemed preposterous. I was so far out of the relationship and so established in my recovery that I couldn’t even imagine having accomplished all that would have gone into putting it together. But lately it’s all coming back. Winter wonderland theme. The Jewish tartan. Making sure to include thistle in all floral arrangements. I can see and practically taste and smell everything. And I remember feeling like I shouldn’t let myself get too far ahead. So maybe it wouldn’t have been this weekend. Maybe it would have been later. Or even earlier. Maybe HE could have gotten one of those jobs at NYC FC and this time of year would be way too close to the first matches the club ever played, with 2015 being its inaugural year, for him to be able to take time off. Maybe maybe maybe.
Here’s what I know. I loved a man. And I treasured the love he gave to me. And I was willing to endure a lifetime of obvious (and not so obvious) challenges for all the good that would come with them. And he claimed he was “too pathetic and scared” to make it happen (that is a direct quote, I swear). And he proved that he was right, by not manning up in the months that followed. The drama at the end, and the lack of action in the post-script does change my view of him a little. There are people who don’t take those things into account and still mourn and idealize the individual. I am not one of them. I mourn the loss of what could have been. Of what I was preparing for. Of what I was able to accomplish and all that could lead to. It is the closest I have ever come to a lifetime commitment and I don’t take that lightly. As my parents approach their 50th wedding anniversary this September I am even more aware of the weight of it all.
But I am not getting married. I sit, still heartbroken and confused. Knowing he’s not the one. Hearing my friends tell me I was too good for him or that I would have settled by being with him. And time has proven them right. But it is of little comfort. The post-traumatic stress remains. And I can attempt to go on dates, and I can sleep with other men, and I can blog about musical theatre songs that loosely connect to what I am going through. But at the end of the day, I am alone. Hopefully just for now, or for a little while until I meet the real guy. But where the hell is he? And am I really ready for him? I think so. I mean, as much as anybody ever is.
I guess I just need people to know that while I am silent and strong, I am still in pain. Still dealing with this tremendous loss. Wondering if this fog will ever lift. The pink streaks in my hair can only carry me so far. I’m not getting married today.