The Readiness Is All
It was one of those weddings no one wanted to be at. And yet, here I am. And I’m not in the bleachers, either: oh, no. I am front and center. Maid of honor. Three weeks after my college graduation, two weeks and 5 days since my boyfriend of nearly four years and I have called it quits. Or I called it quits.
Anyway I’m looking at my cousin Kimmie in her white dress and hoping she doesn’t go through with it. Not with that guy, anyway. Pretty much any man in the entire rest of the church could come up to the altar, push Owen off of it, and take Kimmie’s hands instead and I would be happier with her decision. I’m not kidding. Owen is the kind of guy whose only request for the wedding was that Cotton Eye Joe be played at the reception. When Kimmie first sent me a text with a photo of them together, I thought he must have a great personality, or something. All of a sudden now, here we all are in our Sunday best on a Saturday, watching the two of them get married on my mom's farm.
I guess it goes to show you it’s never the ones you think. I thought it would be Wyatt and I up here, at some point, although I’m not so sure I ever even said that to him. Maybe I should have. Maybe if I had, he wouldn’t be off in Martha’s Vineyard with Pippa Maxwell-Jones. Which is my fault. The circumstances, I mean, not her name. And fuck, what an awfully timed text to get from Berenice, halfway across the country. “COME BACK TO ME.” It might as well be halfway across the Milky Way for how colossal and significant it feels to be in the molten-lava middle of this marriage ceremony. It occurs to me that Berenice has never been to Rose Run, has never met Kimmie. For all she knows about me, she only knows me as a creature of the Ivy League.
That’s what I’m thinking about when Kimmie hands me her heavy bouquet for the part with the ring. She hands me a smile, too. I thought I would feel happier when the actual moment came, that I wouldn’t think of Owen as such an incontrovertible doofus. But, nope. No. His face still looks pretty dumb to me. About as dumb as Kimmie’s is kind, and smart, and beautiful. The flowers are big and wet and tapering and yes: Owen is still ugly as fish, inside and out. A stream of droplets from the bouquet want to escape this whole scene too. They beat down to the floor, roll over there on their backs. My armpits are starting to wet, which should look charming in the pictures given my bright pink dress.
After lots of words and a kiss and some hand-holding and an organ, I’m walking back down the aisle again on the arm of one of the groomsmen, Owen’s cousin Dave, from South Dakota, and every inch a South Dakotan. You know how they can be. He seems fine and maybe we’ll even make out later until he grabs my thigh under the table at dinner and tries to feel me up on the dance floor, all the while I am having to smile politely while thinking about my brand new ex-boyfriend introducing an expert-sailor Katherine Hepburn lookalike Sperry-wearing Yankee to his family while my cousin waits in vain in her huge white dress for clinks of forks on glasses that don’t come willingly.
The next morning, I’m not even hungover for the ride down to Billings to put Kimmie and Owen on their plane to Mexico. When I get back home my mom and Aunt Lona will be there, my mom in her matching lilac sweater set from JC Penney that she wears on special occasions, including tragedies. There will be two enormous hugs that I will, at that point, very much need.