There's nothing true about love that can't be said in a country song. Right now, the song playing in my head is Two Tear Drops. The chorus goes:
Oh the ocean's a little bit bigger tonight
Two more teardrops, somebody cryin
One of them happy and one of them bluer than blue
The tide goes out and the tide comes in
And someday they'll be teardrops again
Released in a moment of pleasure or a moment of pain
Then they drift on down and ride to the sea again
It's the story of a woman who gets married crying tears of joy, and the man she left behind crying tears of pain. She was so happy to be in love again and he was so sad to have lost the girl of his dreams. "One of them happy and one of them bluer than blue." The thing that amazes me is that they both shed a tear for love.
I think about the love I've lost and the love that's come into my friend's life. She's just gotten engaged to the most wonderful man. They're exquisitely happy together, sharing a fantastic little apartment, planning a wedding, living on love and leftover noodles. Her ring is the most stunning I've ever laid eyes on. They kiss at every single opportunity. He is her best friend and she doesn't miss a chance to tell him so. They're the kind of cute that would nauseate you if you didn't already know and adore them. They're Kit and I before the fallout.
The difference is that her fiance is the real deal. He's attentive, affectionate, committed and strong. He brightens up her darkest days and I do not doubt for one single minute that he would ever abandon her. She makes his world a better place to be, as evidenced by the way his face lights up each time he says her name. They are a young, vibrant, sweet couple and I sit here, bitter, jaded, divorced, and envious of their innocent enthusiasm.
I've realized along the way that I do not begrudge my friends their untainted relationship. I do not hold their happiness against them. It would be easy to look down on love and all those in it, hating their smug smiles and wishing it was me in their place. What good would that do though? How would that help anyone? I was in their place just a few short months ago and I kid you not, people unfriended me on facebook because they didn't want to see my super excited status updates. Who does that??? Who hides the happiness of others from their newsfeed? Did they not share in my joy? Or was my exuberance a constant reminder of their own pain?
It would be easy for me to ignore my newly engaged / coupled off / happily married friends. I could snub them and pretend that their bliss simply did not exist. No one is shoving their smiles in my sad face. No one is forcing me to celebrate with them. I choose to celebrate the joy of my friends because someday soon, I hope to join their ranks once again.
This is not to say it's a simple task. This one particular girlfriend has asked for help planning her wedding, and I have volunteered my services on more than one occasion. We've already been looking for dresses, designing invitations, and registering for all the stuff she'll need in her new home. I know that I am not obligated in any way to accompany her to Bed, Bath & Beyond but the truth is: I want to go.
I know how important this time in her life is and she deserves a friend who will be there, who will be genuinely pleased for her, who will be excited when things are going well, and let her vent her frustrations when wedding plans go slightly awry. (Ok, sometimes they go more than slightly!) I know the difference between A-Line cut versus sheath dresses. I know which blenders, food processors, and stand mixers get the best reviews, last the longest, and are the best value for money. I know how to throw a themed bridal shower, how to plan the ideal seating chart, how to arrange seasonal floral displays. In short, I would be the perfect bride. Only problem is I am not the bride.
It's hard for me to believe I got married almost a decade ago. Of course, I didn't know any of these things then. I was the first of my friends to get married thus having no real guidance. The wedding I had was exceptionally beautiful, but it's nothing like the wedding I would plan now (when the occasion arises.) My tastes have matured, as have my friends. What I need and want in a celebration for my 30 year old self is different than what I had for my 20 year old self. Ten years ago, I wanted princess perfect with a splashy party. Now, I am content with tastefully simple, understated elegance.
Indulging in my own romantic fantasies comes so naturally. I have been in love before. I hope to be in love again. My fairy tale no longer includes a sparkly white dress, passed hors d'oeuvres, and the electric slide. Instead, it revolves around a promise of forever, morning in and morning out, night after night sharing a bed with a man who would stop the world for me if he could. These friends getting married in ten short months get both of these things. The wedding. The marriage. The whole shebang.
With conflicted emotions, I watch her try on gown after gown, search the aisles for the optimal toaster oven, choose her menu and write her vows. I am happy for her but I'm sad for me. I treasure the love she's found yet I wonder why I haven't found my forever partner yet. I ask myself how I could have gotten it so wrong the first time around and if I will ever get a second chance. I am simultaneously hopeful yet concerned. I am optimistic yet skeptical. I am open-hearted yet worried. I have no idea which way is up and can only cross my fingers and toes that life has a funny way of working itself out.
Tonight, she will go to sleep with a tear in her eye and a song in her heart. She lies in the arms of a man who loves her, who treats her with respect, is honest, trustworthy, and loyal. She will wake up next to him knowing that their life together won't always be easy, it won't always be perfect, but it will always be together and that is enough for her.
I will also go to sleep tonight with a tear in my eye and a song in my heart. Except that my tear is one of loneliness, one of sorrow, one of pain. My bed - and my arms - are empty. My only prayer is that the next time I shed a tear, it will be one of joy, one of love.