Sunday, June 15, 2008

(this continues the posting of chapters from The Brides of March)

No Bevy of Bridezillas Here

It poured the whole six blocks from the Smart Park on Eighth and Yamhill downtown (where we left the vans) to the First Unitarian Church on Twelfth and Main. Graeme had finally fallen asleep in the van on the way, so I carried all twenty-two pounds of him against my chest, covered in a blanket, praying he’d stay asleep and get enough rest so he wouldn’t scream through any or all of the upcoming ceremonies.

We were soaked, and starving. Despite the goodies on offer during the morning, we all ate very little, too keyed up already to want a sugar buzz lending an edge to our emotions. And since we are a bunch of middle-aged ladies (two without gall bladders), we were scared to eat or drink much without a bathroom close by.

After knocking, ringing, and then pounding on the door, they let us in at the church. A few of the staff already knew about the county decision, and were ready to jump into action, and whip up a wedding at a moment’s notice. Chris and Lisa were nowhere to be seen (they’d stopped for flowers), and we were told that Tom was somewhere in the building getting vows together, busily retrofitting commitment ceremony lines into marriage promises. Terri assessed our needs and took off down the block to the store for sandwiches, and I held Graeme tight against me to keep him asleep, tactically evading the friendly woman who kept trying to pat him, unaware that doing so might spell disaster should he awake.

We were not exactly wedding-ready. We were dressed for the weather: thick socks, heavy shoes, coats, sweaters. Our daughter was wearing black sweatpants, and the baby was wearing the same warm, but grungy, outfit he wore to bed at eleven last night. There was no more time to fuss about clothing than the thirty seconds I gave it that morning. No six months to fret about every detail, time and opportunity turning us into a bevy of bridezillas.

This was probably a good thing.

In my twenties (and underemployed), I used to make little black dresses I could otherwise not afford, snazzy trousers, and the occasional shoulder bag. These days, I only sew couch covers, curtains, and costumes. One of my earliest jobs was at the fabric store my mother owned, which is why I’m a lesbian who sews.

Terri sews, too; she claims that sewing machines are power tools.

From time to time, when I’ve gone to Fabric Depot for my annual Halloween costume making marathon (dinosaurs, guinea pigs, and vampires OH MY), I’ve ambled the aisles before heaving bolts about, somehow finding myself in the bridal section.

Generally, the bridal section of any fabric store is a taste-free wasteland. You have to go to a really spendy shop for a wide selection of wearable options. But once, amongst all the hideous faux brocade, pearl beading, and too shiny polyester satin on offer at the discount store I go to for fake fur and fleece, I saw it: a lovely bolt of off-white sheer organza with my name all over it, just waiting to be made into a voluminous skirt someone could get lost in for days. Sigh.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this. Given the opportunity, I could probably rethink “the dress” nine million times, sew something I end up discarding, buy something off the rack I then return, and change my mind at the last minute, going back to option one, agonizing all the way. Our spontaneous ceremony was astoundingly agony-free: no guest list to fuss over, no colors to debate, no matching bridesmaid disasters, no caterers to hire, no room to book, and no second mortgage to pay for the lot. As Lisa said later, “We had all of the best parts of a wedding, with none of the worst.”

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