Maid of Honor
Last week Haley and I drove home from her school in Thompson, CT. She asked, “Auntie Mary are we going to Las Vegas right now?”
Haley knows the bachelorette party is in Vegas, she knows it is happening soon; but a drive to Las Vegas with me and a 5-year old would probably be a better screenplay than life experience.
“No” I answer.
“Where are we going?”
“Providence” I reply
“When will we be there?” she asks. I believe this would have been her next question regardless of our destination. Haley, asks this question in anticipation.
“About fifteen minutes” I tell her.
Actually I have no idea, it took me an hour to get to Thompson and I wishfully shave off 20 minutes from the ride home. Not to mention that I have just told her mother we would be arriving home in about 15 minutes. Sometimes I use the power of suggestion to try and sway time, to try and sway the universe to operate under my control. Sometimes it works, most of the time I just try not to ask too much of time or the universe.
“Okay,” she says, “I’ll count to 100 and then we should be there,” interesting logic this child has.
“Count to 60, 15 times,” I tell her, trying to give this kid some insight, trying to give her some practical application for the counting skills she is learning in kindergarten.
Regardless, she begins to count to 100. I can hear her cadence as well as Brightblack Morning Light in the background. I am paying attention to both her and the music; this is a state of rest. I used to feel the same thing when I ran cross—country; I used to count every step I took until I lost count and then I would start over. Haley has counted 1-100 already,
“Are we there?” she asks.
“No, count to 100 again” I reply.
I am listening to one thing now. Now aware, now engaging in the activity with her I am tuning into her cadence. I love the way 99 is said like 9999999999999999999. She elongates the 9. She increases the volume, a mustering of courage to move on, anticipating 100, 100 does not roll off her tongue. Again, she sounds like this, 999999999999, and just as 100 does not roll off the tongue, the future does not roll off the tongue.
I cannot imagine my life without you Virginia. It is no wonder because as long as I have been alive you have been next to me; you have been my best friend, my “worst enemy”, my greatest love and my greatest heartbreak.
I tell people that I do not remember my childhood, but strangely enough I remember yours. I remember you being the coolest girl in school, I remember you being the best athlete, and most important person in a number of people’s lives. My only reason for saying I do not remember my own childhood is because I spent most of it wanting to be you.
Your independence; you moved out when you needed to leave, you went across the country to find your adult self, and now you have found a best friend, a love, a husband.
When we were very young we sat on a red corduroy sofa. I held a remote in my hands that controlled about 5 TV stations and I flipped strategically between channels while you asked, “Mary are you going to get married?”
“Of course,” I replied, no hesitation, I didn’t take my eyes off the TV, “Of course I’ll get married, and I’ll have 3 children and a Labrador,” everyone gets married and has kids I thought to myself.
“I am not getting married,” you said.
“I am going to be a vet and live on a farm with lots of horses.”
This, this was the first time anyone had sent a grenade shooting through my square world. All the corners, all the sharp edges of my square went in different directions and my world was round. The sound of the TV faded and I looked at you petting our cocker spaniel, I looked at you, the captain of that sofa now, petting our ships mascot. My pride kept me from saying anything and since this was your reality, since you did not see that in my eyes my mind had just been blown, I silently jumped aboard your ship. I became first mate of a ship destine to see new seas, new ways of viewing what was otherwise artfully painted along the streets of our suburban childhood.
We have spent many nights together talking about marriage. We have had many phone calls and made many decisions about the institution that is marriage. However, no captain, and her first mate as the case may be, sails the same sea twice and I believe this wedding is a testament to that sentiment.
Virginia I have and always have had a deep respect for your courage. Tonight I am celebrating your courage to love someone so completely as to engage in yet another odyssey. Your marriage to Zach is another sea and once again you have plunged into the unknown, ready to map some territory that is frightening, terrifying even, but nonetheless sacred.
Virginia, I wish you all the best. I love you. Congratulations.