This weekend, I flew to Austin for an old college friend’s wedding. ‘Tis the beginning of the season, I guess.
Normally, I let the fact that anyone I know from college getting married totally freak me out, but this specific relationship was a long time coming and the news of their nuptials came more as a “finally,” than an “oh shit!”
I was at the first party where they met, but I continued to hit on her for their first few weeks of dating, so I was super excited to go to the wedding. This was my first friend’s wedding. Up until this point, I’d only been to family shit where I had to at least relatively behave myself. With a lack of a “plus one” invitation, I figured I was on the bottom of their list and would be sitting at the “odds and ends” table. Luckily, I flourish when I’m around people who could be tagged as “odds and ends.” Plus, there were going to be a few other college peers I knew, so I’d have someone to lean on if I was striking out holding up with the other Adults.
I’m at an age (I think) where I’m supposed to be able to carry good conversations with other members of this thing we call society and have them reflect later with “what a fine young man he’s become,” or some bland yet acceptable compliment about the state of my affairs.
My suit didn’t fit when I tried it on the day before my flight. Just a little too tight in all the wrong places, where I have to take a deep breath in and hold it while I button my pants and then gently exhale, to ensure the button doesn’t pop right off. Now anyone who sees the photos I’m tagged in will realize that I’ve gained a little bit of weight since college and will think that my entire life is falling apart at the literal and metaphorical seams.
As far as I was concerned, when it came to the groom’s parents, their impression of me could only go up. The first time I met them was in college, visiting his home for a weekend. Upon arrival, the parents were still at work so we decided to do what any college kids do in their hometown and party with reckless abandon. By the time they came home and were ready for dinner, I had already face planted at the local pool, was developing a black eye and had vomited twice. Needless to say, I was not able to attend dinner.
I’d never met the bride’s parents, but if they were anything like her, they’d be easily offended at cunnilingus jokes and post a lot of BuzzFeed recipe videos.
There’s a saying I hear a lot among my peers in regards to their careers: “Fake it ‘till you make it.” I’d never indulged in that life style, but creeping through some wedding guest’s profiles led me to believe that maybe I should from time to time. How much of a lie do I want to project from myself to others? How important is it that people see me as successful?
I spent the long shower and the longer cab ride to the airport deep in thought, trying to figure what exactly I could pass as without triggering the people that know me to call bullshit. By the time I arrived at the airport, I decided: going to law school.
You can pass a lot of life things off by saying “I’m going to law school.” It’s a get-out-of-jail card. People let you not have your life fully together, because you are in the process of putting it together. And when you come out of it, you’ll be a lawyer! Basing my only knowledge of law school on John Grisham books and Tom Cruise movies, I figured I could be on any level of the “figured-it-out scale” and people will be ok with me. Hell, people might even pity me, but in a good way, not the way they actually would if they knew I was faking going to law school in order to pass as a contributing member to society.
As I sat at my gate waiting to board, I did research on the order of events it takes to go to law school. I’d be telling everyone that I was studying for the upcoming LSAT, or, as I just learned, the Law School Admission Test. The plane before mine was delayed de-boarding, which created more of a cluster fuck at the gate entrance as everyone, regardless of their boarding zone, waited in heated anticipation of getting on sooner than the person standing next to them. Per my usual flight tactics, I had taken a Klonopin right after passing through security. As the plane before us continued to unload, two dick head parents pushed past me, clearly pretending to be important just so they could get further ahead in the line.
The beauty behind boarding zones is that there should never be these fucking issues. Because it’s not Southwest, we all have assigned seats, and we have a designated order in which we board the plane. I know it seems crazy, but there is in fact a system to all this. The system breaks when people like the asshole parents push past people, creating a surge of negative energy that hits one person after another.
Suddenly, everyone pushed in closer to the gate, needing to get on sooner than the rude parents. Meanwhile, the plane was still letting off passengers and I started sweating. We were nowhere near boarding and the growing crowd reached a new level of paranoia.
The child to the parents is a nine-year-old boy who makes eye contact with every person his parents shove through. His eyes are total despair, and he mouths the words “I’m sorry” to each person he passes.
Because of the delayed flight before mine, the Klonopin kicked in at the wrong time, and suddenly my eyes drooped into a vegetative, physical slur. My peripherals filtered into Vignette, and I began to bite the inside of my lower lip in order to stay focused and also because it felt like a gummy that wouldn’t tear.
I kept thinking about the apologetic kid, who, even at nine, understands that his parents are assholes. He has a choice in the future: become like them, or not like them. I hope for the world’s sake that he chooses wisely.
Then, I heard my name being called. When you fight the Klonopin, your auditory functions can play tricks on you, so I kept chewing on my lip thinking about the kid and the growing level of sweat building on my upper lip. Also, law school.
My name was called again, and I willed my eyes to look toward the sound. Walking toward me was my ex, Diane. I used to call her Princess or Princess Di, knowing full well that her name is not Diana. Making a joke out of her (incorrect) name bothered her more than being affiliated with the real Princess Diana, so I did this regularly for the three years we were together.
No need to go into it now, but Diane and I had talked about marriage. We were in high school, but when you’re that age, the rest of your life isn’t a real comprehension; it’s still just an idea. The break up was devastating to both of our fragile hearts. College spread us apart, and other than the occasional text the first few years and the occasional coked-out Facebook message, we haven’t talked in many years. She’s been so far off my radar that she doesn’t even show up in any of my news feeds.
Our freshman year and six states apart, I watched her gain weight and gain friends. I’ll never know if she did the same to me, but she could have. Senior year, she went off the radar for a while, and I think a lot of it was a breakup with “the college boyfriend” and wanting to reinvent herself for job searching. Upon re-entering the social media world, she began going by first and middle name. Now her last name sounds like a fading memory. We never reconnected once she came back, and I was ok with it, because really, who cares?
Walking toward me, Diane looked stunning. Thanks to the Klonopin, the waveforms emitting from her head created a glow I waned to reach out and touch. However, even more breathtaking than Diane was her husband standing next to her. She introduced me to the strapping, tall, gorgeous man with the firm handshake and the cleanest jaw line. Now her glow made sense; what an upgrade.
Had I really not looked her up for so long that I missed both an engagement and a wedding? Where had I been? Knock another one off the list of relationships I won’t rekindle.
We didn’t talk for long, and I’m not really sure what I said. On the plane, I immediately ordered a vodka Red Bull, hoping to break through my medicated fog for fear of what my plane dreams might become.
I know marriage is something that is supposed to happen to everyone, but I found myself really wondering if this was something that was going to happen to me. I tried not getting too into my own head about it, which is easy to do on a wedding weekend trip. Seeing Diane so put together, so happy and so complete really threw me off. The only thing more shocking would have been if she’d also had a baby bump. I’m sure that’s not too far off, and then they’ll have a perfect family, the one she and I could never have.
Am I really so far behind?
I got too drunk on the plane and decided that my law school façade was a stupid idea. By the time I arrived at my hotel, I decided that my law school façade was a great idea. Just in time to bump into the wedding party as they left on their way to the rehearsal dinner. I was disheveled, drunk, still loopy, sweating more, and having an existential crisis. The groom’s parents gave each other a “told you so” sort of look, and I wasn’t sure who had made the bet against me. I went to my room, dropped off my shit, and then went to the lobby bar.
Am I really so undesirable that no one wants to be with me forever? That’s sort of a huge commitment, I don’t know if I’d want to be with me forever, but I’m stuck with me so, whatever. Maybe I’m supposed to change? I figured the people to ask would be the other “odds and ends” I’d be chatting with over chicken, steak, or fish.
I wish I could say that the wedding was a ridiculous drunken blur. Instead, I woke up that morning and went down to the pool. I hadn’t swam for fitness in years, but figured if Don Draper did it, so could I. About to jump in, I noticed a floating band aide dancing through the jet current. Insert some metaphorical element to my own life here, or don’t, and take it as a tiny aside in the larger picture of my weekend.
I spent the afternoon finding a tailor that could emergency fix my suit. There’s not a lot of pride in hearing what size you once were, and then hearing your “new size.”
Luckily, the wedding wasn’t at a church.
During the reception, I paced myself on the drinks. Three an hour felt good, and I was just loose enough to feel confident while lying to everyone’s face about my current and future situation.
Suddenly, being single was a mature way to find myself as an up-and-coming man. I didn’t let the double standard behind those statements trip me up, and instead, laughed them off like a Republican doing anything.
Instead of finding the middle aged, newly divorced aunt that would normally consume my night in order to come out with the next great story to impress my friends, I behaved. There was a cousin on the bride’s side who was also alone and we kept each other company through some of the slow songs, watching from the sidelines like benchwarmers.
It was addicting, the look that popped onto people’s faces when I told them I was studying for the LSAT. Admiration, pride, sometimes even jealousy. “Smart boy, I should have done that myself.” I even turned down doing key bumps in the bathroom and didn’t start smoking cigarettes outside until all the elders had left for the night.
Coming back to my real life has been surreal. Is it really so far off to imagine going to law school? Is that what it will take for me to feel the way I did this weekend shaking hands and making eye contact? I’ve already tested the waters, gathering public opinion. At the wedding, only one former friend balked when I said the news, literally staggering back, saying, “REALLY?!”
I announced the decision publicly before I made it privately.
On the trip back, I changed my Tinder profile info and put that I’m studying for law school. My phone has been buzzing all day with new matches.
Registration deadline for the next test is in August, the test in September.