We’re sitting at her kitchen table in the house she’s grown up in, Laura and I. It’s the morning of her wedding, she’s been up since 3 AM, and we’re waiting for the hairdresser to come. Laura’s already double-checked everything in her mental to-do list, her mom’s already left to set up the reception hall, and it’s just me and her in the kitchen. (And her dad and brother getting her dress ready to bring later).
“I just don’t really know what to do right now, you know?” Laura says. “It’s like, once the hairdresser comes, we’re just going to go for the rest of the day. But this waiting…”
“Yeah. I know what you mean.”
The summer so far has been waiting. Waiting to move forward with China, waiting for the wedding day to come. Waiting to feel like a functioning adult. In the moments before something big happens, I feel helpless. What can you do? I usually twitch, looking around for something to make me seem useful.
Not today, though. On Laura’s wedding day, we sat still for that moment in her childhood home, breathing in the silent air. I take it for granted how much the bride must do for the wedding. Not only was Laura thinking about packing up for the honeymoon, but also to move out of her childhood home into an apartment with Ryan once they got settled and de-stressed from the wedding itself. Her house hummed and we sat, enjoying the wait.
Laura’s right, though: once the hairdressers came in, we really just went. I left to get my own hair done by my mom, pack up my things (a maid of honor MUST be prepared for any and all emergencies!) and make up a CD to play my and Laura’s special song (“Once Upon a Dream” from Sleeping Beauty).
Memories from the day come in snapshots. Mom gives me a backrub so I can turn my head decently enough for the photos. Mom’s winding my hair into a downright citadel of curls as I tear up, thinking that Laura’s doing the same just a few miles away. I’m cramming a sandwich into my mouth as Laura comes in to show off her hair. We’re driving to Hastings. We stop to look at the waterfall–another calm before the storm.
Then suddenly I’m tying her shoes and her mother’s zipping up her dress. I’m putting her veil on. Somehow, none of it sinks in. Not yet. It’s playing dress-up, that’s all. My mind will process nothing more. Then I’m dressing, thinking of Laura revealing her dress to Ryan in the garden for the first time. Then, I and the other bridesmaids are grabbing flowers and heading out to get pictures taken. We’re told to smile like a princess as Amira, the flower girl, smiles wide. Ryan stumbles on the steps as we pose with sass. Then it’s all over and we have to go back to the rooms to prepare to walk in. We’re standing in our heels, trying not to look at the clock too much. Then we’re standing at the back of the church, about to walk in.
Suddenly, I’m at the front, stupidly nervous about fluffing Laura’s train (something I didn’t pester her about earlier, assuming she had enough to think about). What if I didn’t fluff enough and it looked bad? What if it was too much and everyone saw up her dress? What if I did it at the wrong time and everyone thought I was really dumb or something? What if I ruined the entire wedding?
Then, the doors opened, Laura walked down the aisle, and none of the stupid questions mattered.
Stunning. My friend Laura, the one I used to eat entire pies with, the one I’d stay up until 6 AM writing comics with the one who goads me to do the silliest things, the one who said it would take an awful lot to tear us apart, the one who’s stuck with me, even when I’ve been horribly unpleasant to be around. Laura. Getting married.
Time paused for a moment as she walked down the aisle, her dad practically glowing from carrying her on his arm. She gave him a hug. My breath caught. Then, he took off her veil, gave her to Ryan, and they went to the front.
I had the best (well, 2nd-best) view. I knew what Laura’s face would be like–we’ve known each other for a long time. I don’t know Ryan as well. But to see the excitement and pure joy lighting up his face as he looked at no one but his now-wife was really comforting for me. Because no matter what happens in their married life, I’m glad to know that I got to see the Ryan that would do anything for her.
Then time sped up again and suddenly we were taking more pictures. Then we were preparing to enter the reception hall. We were supposed to do a special entrance (surprise!) but I had Davey, who is an excellent dancer. So I got dipped. Then Laura and Ryan had their first dance. They cut the cake. We ate.
Then the rest of the night was a blur of dancing, laughter and singing loudly to songs I sort of knew. I polka’d with mom, did the Charleston when no one was on the floor. I waltzed with Laura, did the Lindy-hop with Davey, hopped around with Kari, wiggled and twirled with Laura and contemplated how to best attack the cupcakes when no one was looking. When taking pictures, my smile was starting to feel like a grimace. But there, in the service, on the dance floor, waving Laura and Ryan goodbye for their honeymoon, it was genuine.
I used to fear that Laura getting married would mean the end of things for our friendship. Things wouldn’t be the same. I wouldn’t get to spend time with her, or would have to clear it first. But then I realized that it doesn’t have to be that way. True, things will change. They should! Marriage means that the rules are different: friends can’t just pop in and steal couple time away anymore. Things will be different. But it’s not a bad different. Laura and I will still bellow Disney songs to each other and text each other when we see weird funny things. Her name will change. But that’s a good different, too.
I don’t know when it will sink in that Laura’s is actually-factually married to Ryan. I still feel like we just went to a really really nice party and that Ryan and Laura are still engaged. True, my hair is still in the curl citadel, but it doesn’t signify much right now.
All I know is that Laura and Ryan are very happy. And that’s enough for me.