I walked, alone, into the Hamlet Willow Creek Country Club for Dominique's wedding and collected the following snapshots of the evening:
A ceremony and reception that was gorgeous, simple and elegant; like the bride herself.
Sitting down for the ceremony in an empty row, somewhat toward the middle to allow others to share the row with me, only to find, as the ceremony began, that no one else sat in my row. I may as well have had a big giant "L" for loser - or leper, for that matter - on my forehead.
Watching Dominique, looking radiant and blissful, walk down the aisle to Andrew, who watched her intently the whole time. Watching them steal little glances and smiles during the officiant's speeches. Noticing that the smile never slipped from Dominique's face.
Being reminded by Dominique and Andrew - the way the looked at each other, the unbridled happiness they emitted - of what I'm looking for, and the fact that it does exist.
Crying as soon as Dominique began to walk down the aisle to the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows (What I'd Do Without You)."
Discovering that, regardless of how much I'd built myself up that I'd have a good time alone, the evening panned out exactly as I thought it would: Me. Alone. With my vodka-n-cranberries.
Ordering Filet Mignon as a main course, fully expecting to be disappointed with a sliver of overcooked meat. But I found myself pleasantly surprised when a huge, perfectly Medium-Rare, juicy and tender hunk of Filet was set before me. The food was delicious. I practically licked my plate clean.
Playing shadow to the bridesmaid I had met a month prior to the wedding through the bride. She did not make me follow her, I chose to, hoping to be introduced to the other attendees. But I was instead treated to her dating woes and given a graphic account of what she hoped to do to one of the groomsmen later that night.
Going home early. Not because I was tired, or so lonely that I just couldn't take it anymore...But to avoid the awkwardness of telling the aforementioned bridesmaid she couldn't crash in my king-size bed with me if her plans to nail the groomsman in HIS king size bed fell through.
Feeling somewhat miserable upon my return to my fancy hotel room for the following reasons:
a) Vodka was involved.
b) I felt that maybe I didn't have a smashing time because I make myself unapproachable.
c) A lot of vodka.
d) To me, the wedding felt not unlike a school dance where I showed up alone and the cool kids looked at me and thought "Oh, poor thing. Nobody asked her to come as their date."
e) I felt like maybe I should've worn a sign reading "Here alone by choice; I could have come with a date if I wanted to."
f) My ex called as I was leaving the wedding. Which was nice because I'd been thinking about him as I was leaving; And horrible for the exact same reason.
g) The vodka.
h) I looked quite lovely and didn't impress anybody but myself.
i) You can hardly taste orange vodka when it's mixed with cranberry juice.
j) I couldn't believe my friend was married. I knew her when she was fifteen, and now she was a Mrs.
k) Dominique and her father danced to the song "Daddy's Little Girl." But only Dominique, her father, and I knew that the voice singing the song through the speakers was her father's. I was touched that Dominique let me in on that moment with her dad.
l) I caught myself thinking "I want to be the one in the white dress" while the bride made her way around the reception.
m) I wore black.
n) The vodka.
o) I might have been proud of myself for going alone...But it still sucked.
p) I chose to go alone because I wanted to prove to myself that I'm not afraid of not being attached to someone. And I realized that it's not that I'm afraid to be single. I just don't particularly care to be single.
q) Absolut Mandarin.
r) Dominique's sister passed away suddenly, unexpectedly and unfortunately a few years ago in a car accident. And so, Dominique wrote a special message to her on her wedding program. It made me cry all night.
s) Suddenly having to go to the bathroom when the lead singer of the band announced "I'd like to invite all you couples to the dance floor..."
t) Weddings always make me cry anyway.
u) Sleeping alone in a king size bed in a strange city wasn't nearly as much fun as I expected.
v) Did I mention that the evening began with champagne punch?
w) I found myself paying a lot of attention to both my food and the people who were actually having fun so that I didn't look miserable and lost in my own thoughts.
x) I was asked, "Where's your boyfriend tonight?" then forced to explain why my boyfriend and I broke up five times...Which was five times too many: It's hard to get into the spirit of a wedding when you're busy telling people that you and your boyfriend broke up because he didn't want to marry you.
z) I just don't like being single.
Watching Saturday Night Live and smoking cigarettes in bed just because I could.
Despite everything that was going on in my twisted head, feeling complete and utter happiness for Dominique and Andrew.
Driving home in horrible traffic down the Long Island Expressway, over the Cross-Bronx, over the Throg's Neck Bridge, the George Washington Bridge and into New Jersey and being able to say to myself "It scared the shit out of me. But I did it."