A celebration of true love from the perspective of a divorcee
Once upon a time, there were two little girls -- one brown-haired and shy and the other, a red-headed chatterbox -- both excited and optimistic about the future. They were best friends. Both girls believed in love and hoped that one day, they would meet and marry the men of their dreams.
Fast-forward 21 years... today is the day that Best Friend #1 (let's call her Amanda) walks down the aisle with her Prince Charming (we'll call him Jim). Over the last few days, the wedding planning hit a frenzied pitch with texts going back and forth about pearl earrings and limo rides, makeup and train schedules, rehearsals, drinks and speeches. All of the pieces fell into place and brought Amanda closer and closer to her fairy tale day.
As you may or may not have guessed, I am Best Friend #2, the red-headed girl. I am also a bridesmaid in my best (and oldest) friend's wedding (which is taking place today in the suburban town where we met as young girls so long ago). You may also know that I am divorced. What you probably didn't know was that this is the first wedding that I've attended since my divorce was finalized one year and eight months ago, making it a very emotional time for me.
I know, I know. The last thing that I should be thinking about on my best friend's wedding day is myself, but as Richard (from Texas) said to Liz Gilbert ('Groceries') in the movie Eat, Pray, Love: "Funny thing about weddings. You end up thinking about yourself." But I am truly thankful for the time that the wedding gave me to reflect on how my own experiences have affected my beliefs about love and relationships.
As everyone who is divorced (or going through the soul-crushing process of separating and filing) can attest, divorce changes the way that you view relationships, and especially marriage, forever. Post-divorce, I've been called cynical (and by my fellow cynics, a realist) more often than not and I find myself wondering about love and the notion of 'happily ever after'. Is it possible to achieve lifelong happiness with the same person?
Until recently, I would have said 'no', but on the day of Amanda's wedding, I have realized that I do believe that it is possible.
I see Amanda and Jim making plans, planting their garden and planning their future, and I see love. I see the grin on Amanda's face when Jim hangs his arm around her shoulders. I have seen them go through ups and downs, still believing in true love and in the family that they plan to have. I see how Amanda has changed since they moved in together, slowing becoming more comfortable with her role as a wife and embracing domesticity in a beautiful way that celebrates the life that they are building together, while still tirelessly pursuing her PhD. I see something special between them and I've come to the realization that there is only one thing necessary for a couple to have a lifelong relationship: the desire to be together until 'death do you part' - and Amanda and Jim have that in spades.
Looking back on the nine years that Amanda and Jim have been together gives me hope... both for myself and for every other woman and man out there who has been hurt by love. Just because it didn't work once (or twice... or six times), doesn't mean that it won't.
Sometimes you do meet the man of your dreams at a random bar because your friend goes up to him to let him know that you think he is hot (that was the other bridesmaid, not me!).
Sometimes you take the risk of buying a house and moving in together (even though neither of you have ever lived with anyone before), betting on the house (literally!) and winning.
Sometimes couples do plant flowers in their garden together, and look forward to watching as they bloom every year for the rest of their lives.
So today, on my best friend's wedding day, I want to share this hope with you -- the hope that true love does exist and that one day, you too will find lifelong happiness with that one special person. I do believe that there are couples that live together, happily, for the rest of their lives -- and I know that every single person has the possibility of finding the right person, just like my friends Amanda and Jim did.
Cheers to the forever kind of love.