I don’t want us to look back and say this was all for nothing. We carried each other through our first years away from our family, and nothing was telling us these feelings would fade. Could anyone blame us for getting married after five years together? It seemed right.
We can listen to “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” and feel sad for what is no longer there – but it was there. We have those memories, we can know that there is someone out there who really got us better than anyone else, and knowing that means knowing there are other people out there, too. There is love in us. We shouldn’t be ashamed because we got so close that we imagined devoting our entire lives to each other. That closeness is such a beautiful thing, even if it didn’t last as long as we had hoped.
I guess the concept of marriage is tainted for us now. How will either of us learn to trust again? No, how can I ever trust myself to know what I really want? I was so sure of this, but I was the one to ask for the end. I don’t want to hurt anyone else – I’m damaged goods.
But, no, I’m capable of more. I can rebuild myself, and you can, too. We don’t know how to move forward, but we are moving forward. Every new day we reconstruct ourselves further. We can choose to be ashamed of that label, of being ‘divorced,’ but it’s a sign that we once allowed ourselves to love someone fully. There’s nothing wrong with having been young and in love – this can be such a lonely world, and you gave me freedom from that feeling for so long.
Even as we soon part ways, you going off to either claim your PhD or moving back in with your family for a bit, me staying behind in this same college town, a part of you will remain within me for life. I assure you, there’s no replacing what we had together – but new towers will dot our skylines.
You teased me the day before the wedding, referring to a close friend of mine as my boyfriend. We were in an open relationship, but it wasn’t until that talk that I realized you found it acceptable for me to actually date others. I shared the idea with him in a half-joke, but we soon agreed that, sure, that sounded like an apt descriptor for what we were. I was happy, having these two loves in my life and not having it be a problem. It was a bit awkward to realize the timing meant I would have two anniversaries back to back, but whatever, I was happy.
He attended the wedding, and I know now the whole situation was rather awkward for him. He would later confide in another friend that he felt pressured into the label, and that other friend eventually let that slip to me. I’ll never get that; why would you let yourself be pressured into something as big and meaningful as a relationship?
But I guess that also describes my wedding, so can I really blame him?
He sat at the same table as another friend I’ve always had a slight thing for, a person I’ve messed around with a few times in the past. At the same table was the guy you cheated on me with and his boyfriend. We joked about that being the furry table, but that wasn’t even half of it.
It’s weird how normal that all seemed to us.
I wish this sat better with me than it did. But it hurt – to love another person and feel compelled to hide them away from my family. Perhaps I could have been braver, open with them – but there was always doubt. You were so certain of this polyamory thing, and if I wanted this to be a happy marriage, I had to learn to accept it.
I really had to accept it. You made it quite clear there was no turning back. I always had to be the one to make sacrifices.
But as long as I had both of you, it seemed acceptable.
The day couldn’t have been worse. Our officiant asked us to present our own vows before being reminded we were sticking to the basics; I guess I was afraid of coming up with ways of describing why I cared for you. It was a reminder of my doubts. Could I promise you anything meaningful? At least if I stuck to someone else’s script, it felt less like a real thing.
The DJ did a catastrophic job. We spent hours working on a list of what we wanted for our big day. The woman who was supposed to MC told us the DJ would try to mix in our picks, but they’d go back to the stuff that would make people actually get up and dance if our stuff didn’t ‘work.’ She also disappeared without telling anyone as the dancing actually began, failing to actually do anything to encourage people to get out of their chairs. Your mother said she was expecting something better after attending a wedding with music provided by the same company, that she could tell the woman wasn’t really trying – but she didn’t want to give a bad review.
I was so overwhelmed by the size of it all. There were so many people there celebrating us, people I had never met and now will never see again. I had always wanted a smaller wedding, but your family demanded they invite absolutely everyone. And then we get there, and my family can’t even fill two tables. Your family is bigger, but it wasn’t that. No, most of my family has simply never accepted me. They couldn’t even make it to what was supposed to be one of the best days of my life. You tried to tell me that I was becoming part of your family, but I felt so outside of it. It never felt like the wedding was about us, but about you – about your family wanting to throw a big party, even if that’s nothing like what I wanted.
I felt so alone that night.
Like in everything else, I remember the music. “One Day Like This,” “Hoppipolla,” “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space,” uplifting songs now tainted by melancholy. We both wanted “Chicago” to play during dinner but they for whatever reason played one of the quieter versions off The Avalanche. We danced alone to “Say Something Loving” because the MC did nothing, and then they went back to songs I hated using this moment as justification. We eventually begged a table of our friends to stop playing Sushi Go Party and dance to try to get the music back on track. Since I couldn’t have a more comfortable wedding size, all I really had that night was my music. Why couldn’t that stupid company have just given the safety blanket I had asked for?
We closed the night by slowly dancing to “Into My Arms.” Did I believe the words of that song back then? Would you find it more or less sad if the answer is yes?
And then you poisoned yourself. We think it’s funny now, but I was actually rather mad with you. It was an entirely pointless act, a reminder that you do whatever you want without considering the repercussions. That moment sticks out because it summarizes our relationship quite well.
The rest of the night consisted of you managing your pain, and despite my supposed asexual leanings, I had allowed myself to work up the energy to be open that night. Instead, we hung out with some faraway friends, including the guy that you had cheated on me with. But, no, that was fine, because it’s not like I ever had the nerve to tell you how much that actually bothered me.
I could never express myself honestly to you – not because I couldn’t find the words, but because I knew you would tell me how wrong I was to feel that way.
I’m sorry you have to look back on these moments aware of the inner turmoil that drove me through the last few years of our relationship. And I’m sorry I was actually happy that day. After I asked for our divorce, you kept mentioning how you wished I realized this sooner. That I didn’t put you through this, that I didn’t allow us to get married.
I’m sorry I believed that things would get better.
I’m sorry I became so overwhelmed by how much time and money your family was putting into this wedding that I was afraid to confront the cheating that occurred after our engagement. I was ashamed of the fact my own family was giving so little, it felt like I had to be along for the ride – everyone would have hated me if I called off the wedding after so much had been poured into planning it.
I stopped having a sense of self during those years – I belonged to you. I forced a smile because you were giving so much, giving me everything but taking so much too. I so desperately wanted to be happy with what we had.
And, for whatever reason, I still loved you.
The day couldn’t have gone better. Sure, our officiant momentarily gave us a scare by asking us to deliver our personal vows when we had chosen to stick to the traditional lines, and the DJ largely failed at their job, but everything else went off without a hitch.
I admit being overwhelmed by the size of it all. Having so many people there to celebrate us, and so many being your distant relatives I had met only a handful of times if I had met them at all. I was a bit saddened to see my family only make up a table and a half – but hey. The people who cared were there, and I had a new family now.
Like in everything else, I remember the music. Waiting to walk down the aisle as Elbow’s “One Day Like This” finished, then making that walk to Sigur Ros’s “Hoppipolla.” We walked away to Bright Eyes’ “First Day of My Life” and had our first dance to Spiritualized’s “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.” We were both a bit annoyed when the DJ played the wrong version of “Chicago”; Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois had been one of the first things I shared with you, and we wanted it there. We danced alone to “Say Something Loving” by The xx, a song we only really requested for ourselves anyway. The night ended on “Into My Arms” by Nick Cave, a quiet song of devotion. None of these are the traditional choices, but we were never traditional people.
Of course, this isn’t the story we share. No, we hone in on the funny bits, and you actually stole the show on the drive back. For whatever reason, you decided to learn what your boutonniere tasted like. You took a small bite which no one else would have noticed if you didn’t soon complain of a tingling feeling in your mouth.
You poisoned yourself on our wedding night, because of course that would happen.
We got back to the hotel and you shoveled ice cream down your throat after learning milk would soften the sting. There was nothing particularly sexy about that night, but we had grown to accept the fact our relationship was never really about sex. At that time, we were convinced I was somewhere on the asexual spectrum. We both seemed happier to just visit with friends; due to the fact we met in college, most of our friends had moved away and it was nice to just get to see them in person for a brief moment.
I’m sorry this is never the story we’re actually going to tell. Later events shroud this in doubt, and we’re both likely to never mention it again after the wounds heal.
Because I was happy that day. There were doubts, but I stuck around because I truly believed we would figure it out. I always wanted to believe in us.
I loved you.