There's this one picture that I think I post every time I mention the wedding. That's because out of the hundreds of pictures the photographer took over the course of the day, it's the only one I like. It's the only picture that makes us look even remotely attractive and happy. Despite my asking specifically for lots of candid photos, the rest of the pictures are posed to the point of looking unnatural.
We keep pictures around to serve as memory cues, so naturally, looking at my wedding photos (and re-experiencing my anger at the photographer) brings back a flood of disappointments and frustrations from that day. The one part of the wedding "script" that I was really attached to got left out accidentally. The food was only okay. The cake was the wrong consistency and the wrong color inside. The DJ mispronounced our last name, even though I wrote it out phonetically for him and gave him a "rhymes with." I was fatter than I'd ever wanted to be in a wedding dress. And I had asked Rob to do two very specific things for me before the wedding--get the car washed, get a haircut--and he didn't do either of them. Yes, four years later, I'm still mad at my husband over fluffy hair and grime on the windshield.
The further we get from August 6, 2005, the less it feels like a day worth celebrating. It's partly my ability to zero in on things that were less than ideal, and it's partly that Rob and I are different as a couple: fewer chins, more gray hairs, fewer surprises, more experiences in common. Or maybe it's that I'm so different now. I don't really feel any connection to that girl who wore the white dress and the veil four years ago. Rob is still the man I married (perhaps even an updated version of the man I married). I know I'm not the woman who married him. Fortunately for me, he doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
As I search around inside my head, looking for something sweet and wonderful to sum up my thoughts about the wedding, make it all better, make it somehow okay that the day kind of sucked for me, I keep coming back to Rob's and my other anniversary. On the fifteenth of June this year, I wrote a little bit about our private, secret civil ceremony.
Four years ago today, Rob and I sneaked away from work early, kidnapped some friends...and got married. I remember the Judge saying this was his favorite part of his job. He explained with a fictional-character kind of wisdom that marriage is like being in a two-person canoe, and it really takes work on both people's parts to keep it afloat. Especially when it's dark and hard to see, or stormy and the water is choppy. It was a perfect day. My only major regret is that we didn't consummate the marriage until two months later, after our "real" wedding in front of our friends and families.Four years later, things are tougher in a lot of ways, but I like us better. We don't go to bed angry; we stay up and fight until we're fighting on the same side. Us against the fight. There are times when I don't feel like being married any more. There are times when I don't feel like being a parent any more. There are times when I think if I had really known what I was getting myself into, I would have turned left at the fork in the road. But those times do pass, sometimes with work. The trick is to remember what the beautiful days feel like when the sun starts disappearing behind the clouds.
The beautiful days have nothing to do with flower arrangements or slow-dancing in front of your grandmother. You might get dressed up, but you probably don't. The beautiful days are about watching your husband blow dandelion fluff at your toddler while they both laugh. The beautiful days are slow-dancing in your kitchen to the sound of the dishwasher running. They're improvised dinners and staying up late because you'd rather analyze jokes together than sleep.
Weddings big and small are wonderful, but with the truly beautiful days, you're on your own: planning, promising, celebrating. And the real work is remembering. No one gets hired to take pictures.
* "Official" as in "the one we tell people about." Although if I keep blogging about our civil ceremony, that might need to change.