I’ve begun to approach my mailbox with a feeling of dread, but not of bills. I’m terrified there will be another pastel, hand-lettered envelope on thick, decorative paper from an address I can’t quite place at first. “Madison, Wisconsin? Do I know someone in Madison?” I think, and then, gradually, it dawns on me.
For years, I watched as friends and relatives were consumed by them – as they spent all their money and took up all their weekends attending them. But this year, it’s my turn. I do not refer to professional sporting events, nor concerts, nor self-help seminars, though there are resemblances. I’m talking about weddings, of which I have been invited to nine this year.
The invitations span the United States, from such exotic locales as Valle Crucis and Asheville, NC; Hamilton, NY; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Sonoma, Calif.; and Kenosha, Wis. The closest wedding commences this weekend, in Philipsburg.
Don’t get me wrong: I love weddings and relish the chance to celebrate my friends and their happiness. But as someone who lives far from where I grew up – and have many friends who do as well – the costs are just too high to attend every wedding. And I couldn’t get that much time off from work in my wildest dreams. Which leaves me in the awkward situation of rarely attending a friend’s wedding – and the subsequent guilt that results. While home for the holidays, a friend twisted the dagger a bit by casually inquiring, “Whose wedding will you show up for, Testa?”
I’m from New York, and when I lived in Georgia, I watched with a kind of glee as my Southern friends suffered the deep shame that their lives were in shambles because they had reached the ripe age of 22 and still weren’t married. I think in the Northeast, people find partners a few years later in life – or maybe I just perceived it that way because most of my friends were as blockheaded as me, and couldn’t keep a girlfriend to save their life.
But I can’t dodge the deluge any longer. It’s here, and the thick stack of invitations are not going away. I’m sure I’ve reached some type of milestone, and I should derive some deep meaning from all this, but I just find myself preoccupied with a long summer of sitting on folding chairs under a big tent, eating grilled chicken, and perspiring in a suit. It will be bliss.
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