A wedding has to be the worst place to meet your true love. But somewhere in between the minister’s prayers, the elated couple standing at the altar reciting their vows and the candlelight flickering all over the sanctuary, a girl’s heart softens. At least mine did on a crisp fall afternoon while witnessing my cousin exchange “I dos” with “the one” she met at college.
She looked radiant. So did the groom. In fact, everyone in attendance did.
No matter their age, everybody in the church dressed impeccably for the occasion. Sparkles and sequins, black ties, and boutonnières attached to tuxedos. This wedding was the event of the season. People came to see and be seen as the preacher’s daughter tied the knot.
Singers with more than one hit performed at the wedding and the reception. Professional photographers and makeup artists flew in, and the food was curated by a television-renowned chef.
The wedding was an affair to remember. And I was dateless, purposely unattached, and ready to be present for the nuptials and then on a flight back home. Until I saw him.
In the recesses of the church, his eyes brightened the entire room. He checked every physical box: tall, thin, and pecan tan. Tall meant he stood toe-to-toe with the potted ficus tree, which was about 6′. Thin meant his suit fit him without bulging in the mid, back, or hip sections. And pecan tan meant precisely as it sounds.
He smiled. I smiled back. Then he disappeared.
While the wedding party took photos inside the church and on the lawn, attendees filed into the reception hall thirty or forty feet away. I took my seat at a table filled with my immediate family and a few cousins I had not seen in years. We caught up on births, deaths, and new homes up until the moment the wedding party arrived.
After all the handclaps, fine dining, significant song selections and dances, the center of the reception hall turned into a dance floor for all. The lights dimmed, strobe lights flashed around the room, and couples coupled as the celebrity deejay dropped beats that got most of the guests out of their seats.
When the “Electric Slide” played, one of my cousins pulled me to the dance floor. Oh, great, I thought. And then I saw him. In a corner again. Looking at me, looking at him.
Once the medley of line dance songs was over, he had disappeared once more. I ventured off to reclaim my seat and there, at the edge of the dance floor, was my mystery man offering to help me step off the wooden slab.
He offered me a drink. I said, sure. And that’s where it began followed by the usual questions: What’s your name? How do you know the bride and groom? What do you do? Where do you live?
His name was common. He was the groom’s cousin. He worked in finance. He lived on the West coast.
After the garter belt and wedding bouquet were thrown into a semicircle of men and women brave enough to step into those traps, I drifted outside with this new man. He dusted off a concrete bench and placed his handkerchief down for me to sit. My dress wasn’t new, so I didn’t care, but I appreciated what he did.
Without having to shout over the obnoxious deejay who kept reciting his name and talking through the songs, we chatted about our lives: past, present, and future. Time flew by. Eventually, we made our way back into the reception hall to cheer the new couple off.
Then he asked me if I had plans for the evening. All the wedding guests had reservations at the same hotel, so he invited me to meet him in the lobby later. I said, why not.
We didn’t sleep that night. You would have thought we were old friends, reacquainted at a college reunion. He massaged my neck and my scalp, and I could feel him make tiny loops around his fingers with my hair as I rested against his shoulder.
We connected purely on the subject of us for hours. Foolishly talking about how beautiful our children would be. We shared our dating histories and he volunteered to pray for me.
Daylight marked the time had come for us to part. He had a flight later that day, and I needed to spend time with my parents before flying home the next morning.
We embraced tightly. A soft kiss goodbye and a promise to see each other again. Then he said he was falling in love.
Although I was not a fan of instant or long-distance relationships, I promised to keep in touch. I had to. I ached to see him go.
Before I could enter my hotel room, he had flooded my phone with text messages. I thought his actions were adorable. I thought we were unbelievable.
Each day he texted, and in the evenings, we skyped. He wrote me love notes. And said he loved me. All the time.
I blushed. I loved the romance, but I wasn’t a writer. I enjoyed the sound of his voice and chose to communicate that way instead.
He talked about marriage. He said he had engagement gifts for me that I had to come and receive. He said he wanted to start a family.
Spring was a busy time at work for me. We kept in contact, but late-night skyping was pushed to the weekends whenever he was available. We started to argue about little things. Things I don’t remember.
I do recall emailing him a letter one evening, and for the first time, I confessed that I loved him too. I even tried to write a poem. Shortly afterward, he sent me an airline ticket. By summer, I flew across the country.
I was so happy to see him. Tall, thin, and pecan tan. We embraced for an eternity.
Then he asked, “Where is your hair?” I told him I cut it for the summer.
Then he said he didn’t like the way my butt looked in my jeans. I told him I had lost a little weight.
Later he introduced me to the neighbors as his cousin. I don’t remember his explanation.
After two days together, he wrote me a poem about love being for a reason and a season, signed, “I don’t think I love you anymore.”
He said I had changed.
And I did. In a blink, I saw his every flaw:
He had wanted everything (including me) his way.
I realized that the love notes had turned into apology letters after his temper had flared. Usually, he had made an insensitive comment about women and I had called him on it.
I recoiled at his braggadocious ways and his lack of generosity. Where were the gifts he promised me anyway?
I remembered the wrinkled wedding suit he wore the day we met. Like it had been washed instead of dry-cleaned.
At that moment, I accepted the fact that I had seen only what I wanted to see.
And if this relationship was to end, I was happy to allow it to end immediately.
“Sure,” I said.
Without further conversation, I gathered my belongings and went my own way.
A cab dropped me off at a lovely boutique hotel, where I booked a room for the remainder of my trip. Then I called a friend in the area, hung out with her until the end of the week, and used my roundtrip ticket to return home.
Post Wedding Blues. Pay Attention to the Clues
Today’s words of wisdom come from a popular passage of the Bible read at weddings —1 Corinthians 13 TPT.
1 If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal…4 Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when a blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. 5 Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. 6 Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. 7 Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
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