Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Skittles: quite the contradiction

I'm not spontaneous, but I'm not a planner, either. I think I might just be a skittle.

As a child, my vision of marriage was skewed. Most of the adults I was close to had husbands or wives and yet the distance between them and their other halves seemed contradictory to the union. Disrespect, infidelity, and physical distance seemed the norm. There weren't a lot of positive examples of marital bliss I'd witnessed - save the Huxtables, of course. It seemed like marriage, as I knew it then, was more comparable to Peg and Al Bundy's: a contractual trap that was too hard to get out of, so the couple merely endured. Everything I'd witnessed made me dread the very idea of exchanging vows.

It took a high school sociology project to get me thinking about weddings. The assignment required me to set a budget based on my family's income. Then I was supposed to plan everything for my big day. As I often was the case with school work, I was consumed by the assignment. I purchased every wedding and bride related magazine on the shelves of the bookstore. I poured through brochures, called (or wrote) companies for samples, and dedicated my sparse free time to sketching out the ideal wedding dress. That dress was a corset-style top akin to those worn by Renaissance aristocrats, but was full of vibrant colors across the bodice and featured a straight skirt rather than the ball gown flair variety. It was divine. Suddenly I could envision myself a bride. I was obsessed with preparing the perfect event - right down to a tentative seating chart to scale with the venue's dimensions. I actually thought I might like to have a wedding, but the husband was optional.

[Narrator interrupts: She began to think, "Dare I say that I had much the same thought about children: pregnancy as an experience might be interesting, but I didn't fancy being a mother?"]

By college I had a simple time line: married by 24 - finding a husband is the main purpose for higher education, right? And kids - three of them - before age 30.

In the years since that project - quite a few more quickly elapsing than I cared to admit - the time line became a measure of failure. Despite several promising adult relationships, I found myself becoming the girlfriend just before the wife. But I wasn't worthy, it seemed of being propositioned with forever.

It can make a person somewhat guarded, this history of being the unchosen. If I commit unabashedly to a theory of "this is the one" in each new beginning, it could become the set up for a terribly heartwrenching break up (or worse, an obsession akin to "The Cable Guy" fame). But if I move at a snails' pace and keep a distance of at least two car lengths between myself and Mr. Maybe, am I dooming it from the start? It's relationship skittles: How can I be the devoted one in a relationship if it is "likely" to end in nothing but an experience to file away in memory? But how can I not give all?

I have relished in a not-so-secret obsession for watching "My Fair Wedding with David Tutera." Occasionally, I catch myself hypothesizing my own "I do," dreaming up themes and motifs and envisioning the photographs of my happiness yet to be created.

Insert big flashing "DANGER" sign: I suspect this could be a bit scary for someone not ready to plunge into a marriage even if my musing wasn't a sign that I was...

Mr. Right At the Time, I think, suffered countless bouts of agita from my frequent rap sessions with my almost-sister-in-law during the planning of her ceremony. I was taken to bridal shows, given magazines of ideas, and sucked into the vortex of the business of weddings. In being her sidekick, I had unintentionally created a ticking clock - a time bomb of sorts - for him. A trail of skittles led from my house to his car as he sped away slowly from fear that I might give subtle hints or grandiose ultimatums about "us."

Throughout the years, my visions of the pomp and circumstance of becoming Missus DotDotDot has become a vague nod to the teenage dream. Skittle that I am, I have the framework of the ideal and no doubt meticulously plot the details if given the opportunity. But planning the big event?

[Narrator interrupts: Her chest rose and fell as she sucked in a deep breath and released it slowly in a sigh.]

I want it amazing. I want it something to talk about. I want to be the center of attention. But I don't like playing hostess with the mostest.

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