Saturday, April 09, 2005

Party of One

I licked the seal and pressed it closed before I could change my mind. I had slipped the response card with only my name written on it inside the eggshell envelope seconds earlier, and now the prepaid postage and embossed address prevented me from ripping it open and adding "+ Guest." There was no turning back. When I wet the glue on the ridge of paper, I committed myself to attend a wedding alone.

The invitation to my friend Dominique's wedding sat in my planner for over a month while I weighed my attendance options. I considered inviting a friend, I considered inviting my ex, and I considered inviting a gay man. But none of those options seemed appropriate. It felt unfair to bring someone with me just for the sake of bringing someone. But whenever I thought of going alone, I was filled with panic. I could see myself, dressed in my beautiful black gown, full hair and makeup, sitting all alone at a table for ten while other attendees danced and laughed. I saw myself perched by the hors d'ovres, cramming coconut shrimp into my painted mouth watching the party happen around me. I saw myself, fourteen vodka-cranberries into the evening, completely inebriated and lamenting to a stranger about my failed engagement, my most recently failed relationship, and my failure to meet a great guy now, while they searched for someone to save them. The visions were so pathetic, I shook my head to rid myself of them. So I thought, instead, of the chances of me actually spending the whole evening alone, of finding not even one person to talk to during the night. Fairly slim, I decided. So I made the choice to do it alone: To make the long drive alone, to stay in a hotel alone, to walk into a celebration of love and partnership alone. This, for me, is huge.

At this particular wedding, I will know the bride and no one else. I don't even think I could pick the groom out of a line up; Even though they've been dating for almost five years and I've known her for almost ten, I may have seen him twice. I won't know the wedding party, either of the families, and I'll certainly know none of their friends. And in that situation, I'd prefer to know that there's someone I can talk to in order to avoid that painful predicament of "Well, no one's talking to me, so I'll just sit here and feign utter interest in my glass/cocktail napkin/dinner/shoes." And it just would be gauche for me to whip out a crutch like a book or my cellphone in an effort to seem otherwise occupied.

It's true that I enjoy spending time in public alone: Shopping, lunch and the movies are all perfectly acceptable solitary outings. But a wedding? Where there will be slow dances and toasts and vows and an obvious undertone of love and forever? That's heavy.

I've been a part of a couple for six years straight. Any weddings I've ever attended have caused me no stress in terms of my date. He was always built right in. So this is my first-ever instance of even contemplating writing my name alone on a response card. And it would be very easy to drag a friend along to soften the blow of my first social event sans boyfriend. But I'm challenging myself. This, I feel, is how I will announce my independence. This is how I will assert to myself and everyone around me that, for the first time, I am not afraid of not having a man at my side. That I can sit in the pew and watch my friend commit her life to someone else, and be genuinely happy for her, regardless of the fact that I'm far from married.

So I dropped the calligraphied card into the mailbox in front of the post office.

I called the hotel and booked my room.

I got driving directions from MapQuest.

I am going to do this, if it kills me.


Scoot said...

AH, but darling, you may be overlooking one thing: There could be some incredibly hot sexy guy there all worried about being alone, as well.

This could be one of those "kismet" things. Don't worry so much!

Laurie said...

I'm counting on that, Scoot!

Actually, that's why I chose NOT to invite a male friend, gay or straight. I didn't want someone to think I was "attached."


Anonymous said...

Laurie, I really like the way you write. I have read your blog for a couple days now. And, after this one I checked out the rest of your blogs, had a lot of time on my hands. After all the things you have said about your last boyfriend you have only said one thing about the guy you were ENGAGED to. That he was all anyone could ask for. Why do we not read more about him? Or was the engagement not really that important?

Laurie said...

To answer your question, the engagement was extremely important. It was a huge part of my life, as well as a huge part of who I am today. I am still trying to figure out how to explain my engagement: How to do it justice and explain the breakup fairly. To be perfectly honest, it's tough to write about.

Trust me, I've started tons of posts about my engagement, but none of them seemed to live up to what I wanted to say about that relationship.

But I'll keep trying, and get one up there...

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

did you know that i'm allowed to have a few weekends of leave every semester. ya know i could go with you, it would give me a chance to get out of here. well, i hope you have fun at your first wedding alone, and i hope you find a good guy. one who will pass my inspection.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! I am so glad that you are finally braking away from that whole "got to have a man at my side...." thing. And STOP looking...............

NJ said...

" I committed myself to attend a wedding alone."
That's why you kick ass Laurie! If there is a decent guy within 60 miles of that wedding, I'm sure you won't be sitting by yourself too long.

Brian said...

You could always hire someone to be your date like that one movie, "The Wedding Date" hehe.

Either way, I hope you have a good time!

tumbleweed said...

I have this friend who I loved sooo much from my high school days that I flew across the country by myself to see her get married...some people are just worth it ;)

Laurie said...

Awww...Tumbleweed! You're the greatest. It's because you do things like that - fearless things, wonderfully thoughtful things - that I adore you so.