There I was, in front of my closet, barefoot, shoulders drooped, hands hanging limply at my sides. It was Friday early afternoon. A few hours on, I’d be witnessing the wedding of two people I didn’t know, sitting with people I didn’t know, drinking wine with people I didn’t know, chatting, laughing, working hard to wittingly banter with people I didn’t know, save for my partner. The people with whom I’d be sharing my evening away from mothering would be those my partner spends his days with: co-workers. Ugh. It might go without saying that being raised by wolves and lacking strong fashion sense go hand in hand. I will say it anyway. I was unable to discern any dressing tips from the invitation due to it’s misplacement the day after arrival by mail. I hadn’t been sure we were even attending until Spouse revealed he’d been emailed twice by the bride, needing confirmation for our table setting. Twice. Wow. She really wanted Spouse to attend. So there I was, standing ill-at-ease before the altar of couture.
I live in a suburb of Seattle, a city idolizing individuality and the outdoors. I embrace the lifestyle of simplicity. I make beautiful bread, can tomatoes, grow cucumbers and carrots and green beans. I’m honing my skill as a Chicken Whisperer. I spend afternoons fighting my son with light sabers, Nerf guns, and long sticks as lances. I believe what I consume should not come to me cheaply, produced on the backs of Third World Children or underpaid mothers trying to keep themselves free of more lucrative but deadly ancient employment. I rarely buy new. I support thrift stores and the charities they support. One can get great clothes from Goodwill or Plato’s Closet if one knows what to look for. I readily accept shopping tips and hand-me-ups from my fashionable nieces, women who know what is appropriate for their auntie to wear.
Still. I had spent a few hours combing the Internet for information about what one should wear to an early September Friday evening wedding in Seattle. In keeping with all my other specific internet search results, I read about east coast weddings, Sunday weddings, July weddings, and weddings on the beach. No help. I felt confident in my election as Clinton & Stacy’s or Trinny & Susannah’s poster child. Thursday I had made a pilgrimage to Target for sheer black hose, emergency cami, and a black bra with interchangeable straps that wasn’t already stuffed-what the hell is up with those push-ups? My hair was newly trimmed and cute. I had worked hard to get the garden off my hands, all the nails clipped to equal length. I had made my choice from two dresses, settling on a purple, halterish-backed, Calvin Klein number, a selection originally owned by my far more stylish younger sister. I had borrowed a beautiful sheer throw from other sister and fastened a never-before-worn necklace around my neck. My short heels were candidates for Cruel Shoes but since Spouse and I aren’t dancers, I didn’t worry.
Dressed, Spouse home early, Junior delivered to Grandma’s, we set out, and in 7 minutes, stuck in quintessentially nasty Seattle Friday evening commuter traffic. We had to travel 17 miles, the venue just south of downtown. What should have taken 3o minutes, took 75. After prematurely exiting from I-5, Spouse revealed that no, we weren’t still 10 minutes early, we were, indeed, 20 minutes late. The wedding started at 5Pm not at 5:30PM, the time inexplicably lodged in my brain. My happy banter a few minutes earlier changed abruptly, moving wildy between shock-disbelief-incredulousness-explicatives-anger-not wanting to go but then, dammit! I went to all this trouble, all the expense (the Target purchases were not part of the week’s budget), all the emotional wrangling getting myself into a good place with me, of course I was still going! After a wrong turn, sending us eastbound on I-90 with no means of correction until we reached Mercer Island, we, meaning I, had time to simmer. My belly meditation didn’t do a thing but checking my phone’s email produced this:
The Cast Partyby Scott Noelle, posted on 2006-12-06
As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”
Today we’ll take that metaphor a step further, for when a play closes, the players celebrate their accomplishment with a cast party.
At the cast party, everyone relaxes and recalls the goof-ups, missed entrances, botched lines, and malfunctioning props — not with the terror these mishaps evoked at the time, but with rolling-on-the-floor laughter!
NOW they can laugh because the pressure is off. They’ve put away their costumes and returned to being who they really are.
Here’s the wonderful thing about the real-life play called Parenthood: You don’t have to wait for the cast party to relax and be real. You can “break character” and re-write the script on the fly.
So why not make the play itself more like a cast party?! Why wait until it’s over to enjoy the difficult times?
Life is NOW! And it’s all good.
An email from a parenting support list changed everything. In this real-life play of attending the wedding of strangers, why wait to enjoy the difficult times? We both laughed in disbelief, for serendipity and relief.
We arrived at the venue just as people holding beverages mingled, and venue staff changed the room from sanctuary to banquet. Any earlier, we would have awkwardly interrupted final words of vows or the kissing or announcing. As it was, we signed the book, dropped off the gift, and headed straight to the Yakima Valley Pinot Gris. Drinks in hand, we found our thirsty tablemates, who we directed to the bar like we had always been there.
You make me glad to know you and grateful for your words. Love this.
This is fabulous. Having heard this story told to me, I could feel your arms waving in the air and hear all the emotion in your voice – again. You truly have captured this story I was a little mouse in the back seat taking in all the process the slow and steady preparation to the whips and turns of the roller coaster ride trying to get there, then finally the relief and making it to the cast party after all! Thank you for taking the time to get this down. Wonderful work you are doing here.