As I’d looked over at my dad, I could see him beaming with pride as his daughter was about to tie the knot. That silly grin he had on his face said it all. My baby is getting married.
“You ready baby?” He’d asked as he’d gently touched my hand. I remember seeing the silver in his hair, which had just started to creep up his sideburns. His tuxedo had been black and crisp. I could appreciate just how handsome he was, and it made me glad he was my dad. I knew he would turn heads as we walked down the aisle.
“Yes, just give me a few minutes daddy,” I’d said as he’d opened the door and stepped out of the car. Gently he had closed it as he walked over to chat with the limo driver. With his exit, panic had rushed in on me. I can still remember the terror that shot through my whole being. Reliving those fifteen or so moments in the back of that limousine where time seemed to stop, still plays through my mind.
What are you doing you ninny? This is it, run! You’re making a huge mistake! Open the damn door while they’re looking the other way, and get the hell outta here! GO! NOW! No one will think less of you. Hell, dad would probably drive the getaway car. Breathing deeply, in terror, I had gasped finding it hard to breath. I can still feel the inner pull from that day and wanting to run away as quickly as my legs would carry me.
No one would see me, escaping into the late morning sun! I could make my getaway from this mistake. There was still time!
Looking through the tinted window of the car, I remember how much I’d squirmed on the leather seat as I looked up at the entrance to the church. The large wooden double doors, with their polished golden wood, were wide open like the jaws of a giant monster. I had noticed a few people lingering, chatting while they’d waited, to be seated before the ceremony. Mrs. Tanis, a family friend, was on the steps dressed in a frilly peach and white dress, with a white hat on her silver gold, curls. She had turned and waved before stepping into the church with her husband laughing at something he said to her. However, unknown to all of the happy guests, my internal litany had continued.
I can’t let these people down, I’m committed! Think of all the work that went into this day, to make it right. Who am I to run away like a scared little rabbit? People will think I’m a spoiled little brat who doesn’t know her own mind.
My heart had pounded in my chest as I looked out the back window of the limousine down the long empty street. In my mind, I remember thinking of a scene from a movie from the 70’s or 80’s. You know, the kind where the bride ran down the street wedding gown flowing in the breeze as her high heel ate up the road as she runs away.
Who runs away from their own wedding? Swallowing, I had fanned myself as I felt the sweat running down between my breasts, under my suffocating gown.
Whose idea was it to wear this death trap? Resentment filled me towards beautiful prison cocooning me. It had felt like it was slowly choking me alive, squeezing every breath from my body. Veil, skirts, petticoats, and corset all did their job holding me in place. The car door had opened, and my dad was suddenly there again.
“It’s time to go kitten.”
Taking his hand, I had carefully stepped out my face had become a mask of calm serenity as the photographer snapped endless pictures. Hugging me briefly my dad had whispered.
“I love you baby, be happy.”
“I love you to daddy, thank you.”As I’d looked into his hazel eyes that were damp with un-shed tears. I found myself, humbled, by the love I could see on his face. I’d hugged him close because I couldn’t let him down. Nor could I embarrass my future in-laws, who had embraced me as one of their own, or my soon to be husband who waited in a church full of guests.
Pushing down that inner voice, I had taken, my father’s arm ignoring the warnings in my head, and turn to enter the church were my chosen destiny was about to unfold. I knew there would be regrets, but my choice, had been made.
The second time around I married my husband Tom, on a road trip to North Carolina. This time, the journey involved a ride through the night which included Tom, my daughter Chrissy and our bulldog/boxer Annabelle. We headed to South Carolina to pick up Patton, another bulldog/boxer puppy we had fallen in love with, and to tie the knot in the small town of Smithville.
There was no fanfare although we had considered going that route. Like a blurry movie, I can remember us smuggling Annabelle into our hotel room wrapped in a blanket so we could grab a few hours of sleep before our appointment with the justice of the peace. Exhausted and in two, beds the four of us crashed. Tom and I on one bed, Annabelle, who squeezed in between us to get as close as she possibly could.
Bleary eyed we changed clothes, crated the dog and went to get it done as my husband would say. On a crisp January morning, we gathered into the Justice of the Peaces office with a borrowed bail-bonds man; whom we had asked to stand in as a witness. Something about this imperfect moment felt right. Something about this private ceremony, in a quaint little town, in the middle of nowhere, felt like coming home. There was no doubt no hesitation, no second-guessing, and no desire to run.
This giant silly man, who had spent his life fighting for his country, had become home for me, as I had for him. A diamond in the rough! Mine!
Balance and peace at last! That’s when two people get to be themselves, and are allowed to find real happiness. Acceptance of whom each other had become. The difference is this was for keeps; this was for love and all the right reasons. This was not because it was time, or because our biological clocks where ticking, not even for family expectations, no inner voices, no doubts just us.
There was no big ceremony, no banquet just southern BBQ and sweet tea for two at a popular BBQ joint near our hotel afterwards. I had found the other half of my heart, as corny as that may sound. In a white dress with a black wool jacket with white piping on the lapels, I married my best friend. I cried as we said our simple vows.
“This time’s for keeps. No, take backs.” I softly told him, laughing as we slipped our simple gold bands on each other’s fingers.