Last week I had the pleasure of being someone's stand-in date at a wedding. My new buddy Lauren got married to her long-time boyfriend Ransom on the beach in Florida as the sun came out for the first time all week. (Her song coming down the aisle? A very appropriate, "Here Comes the Sun.")
Now, I've been to weddings before, but as they've never been friends of mine up to this point, I was never exactly blown away. Add to that the fact that I split from relationships like a bat out of hell promptly on month three ever since I started dating boys... and you can see why I've been skeptical about the practicality (or possibility) of me getting married at all.
But Lauren and Ransom changed my perspective. I got to be there the night before, after the bride had consumed a few drinks, and when asked if she had cold feet, her response was: "Are you kidding? I'm marrying Ransom!! Can you believe Ransom is going to be my husband?? I can't wait for tomorrow!!" She had this look in her eyes that, if it were me, would be the result of finding out I could have all the shoes I ever want without ever having to pay. She felt lucky - as if every day she tries to figure out how she managed to snag this one, but knows that he feels the same way about her.
And him? Well... the look on his face when she walked down the aisle was enough to cement his feelings about the whole situation. Not to mention that he had spent months working in Siberia in order to give her the kind of wedding he felt she deserved. SIBERIA!!! After the ceremony, when Jenny went up to ask him how he felt about being officially of the market, he laughed and replied: "Where have you been? I've been off the market!"
Needless to say... I cried during the ceremony. Thank goodness for sunglasses, and the excuse of the sun being in my eyes.
Naturally, my skeptical side got a hold of me the next morning, and I started to think... you know... that it must just be the honeymoon stage. I mean, sure, they had been dating for 5 years already... but they'll get home from the Bahamas and life will be as boring for them as the rest of us, right?
This is when I met Christian and Kim. They were kind enough to house me, Jenny, and Joy the next night, and help us celebrate the new year with black eyed peas and cabbage. Now, Christian and Kim have been together for 6 years, and got married shortly after graduating from college. While they were engaged, they went on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and won $50,000. (We watched the episode... it was one of the most adorable things I've seen since the latest kitten viral video.) They now reside in Tampa in the cutest little yellow house, accompanied by their dog Gumbo. (I call her Gumbledore.) As I curled myself up on their couch after watching a particularly gruesome bowl game, I watched their nightly rituals. (It wasn't creepy... I swear. I was in the middle of the house, so I couldn't exactly miss people moving about.) What I saw was that wedding joy settles, but it doesn't disappear. They still flirted with each other, cracked jokes at each other's expense, and seemed to be completely content with seeing the other person's face everyday for the rest of their lives.
Now, when I told my parents how my trip to Florida had positively affected my feelings about marriage... they were offended. Their marriage has been solid for 30 years, even despite 3,000+ miles of separation for the last three of them. Apparently, this should have been enough to completely solidify a positive outlook on permanent pair bonding. After thinking about it, I realized that there was a reason why that hadn't been enough. The difference with them was that I didn't get to see how they started. (And bless my little eyeballs for that fact.) It was nice to see the magic of starting off together. Feeling like you've won something amazing and knowing that you won't get tired of it. I've never left a trip feeling more hopeful about what's to come.