Friday, 6 July 2012

On marriage and growing up

The couple.
a.m.k. has never been married, but he does love champagne.

This past weekend I got to attend the wedding of two old friends, two friends I’ve known for eight and ten years each. At my age, weddings among friends aren't too common, but I should probably expect a steady stream of them to kick in soon and last for the next ten or fifteen years. Long work weeks and other commitments mean 20-somethings have to skip out on a lot of fun stuff, but one of the few events that can justify a weekend road trip is attending a wedding.

This weekend’s wedding was the first I’ve been to that was friends instead of family, and it was also special for me for another reason: I was the person who introduced the bride and groom to each other about seven years ago. At the time, I gave them maybe a few weeks to last--I just didn't see it. But all the same, they lasted and all these years later they're moving into a house together and saying holy vows.

As the years pass, I am slowly but surely witnessing the shrinking of my social circle. I've read about this phenomenon in textbooks and I was pretty sure it was going to happen to me eventually, but I still think it caught me off guard. They say that the friends who stick around are the important ones, which may be true, but there are still people I’ve lost contact with who I really wish I hadn’t. Part of it is my fault, of course, for not making more of an effort to keep in touch, but it’s also just because life gets in the way: it's hard to manage communicating with people in various different cities, especially with a girlfriend, full-time job, volunteering, sports, leisure, sleep, alcohol, etc.

I’ve only had a little contact over the past few years with this couple (and if I wasn't the one to introduce them, I'm not 100% sure we'd even be in contact at all), but we were close at one point and we shared plenty of experiences. Sometimes I call him up when I'm in town, and sometimes I don't, which is fine; his life gets in the way sometimes, mine does too. He’s not allowed to forget me, in any case, since I’ll always be the answer to "how did you two meet?"

The groom in 2004.
The wedding wasn’t small, but it felt small. There were few friends in attendance—zero from our grade school and only one other from our high school that I saw. Out of his friends, there was his wedding party, a guy from our high school job (that he found me) and a few guys he went to college with. That was it. I'm not sure his wife had any friends there aside from her bridesmaids, but they did invite lots of family. I expected to recognize more people, and I’d been preparing myself for awkward encounters with guys I hadn’t thought of talking to since high school.

Being there with mostly family was uncomfortable, but it was humbling, made me feel the weight of my invitation spot in their inner circle that day.

I don’t cry much in public, but I kept trying to think of dead animals and strange situations to get my mind off the bride walking up the aisle, wedding vows, speeches, first dance. Part of me was just emotional for “selfish reasons”--a life event like a wedding can remind you of your own mortality. I've known him since we were pretty much kids and him being a married man is enough for me to wonder where the years have gone and question when exactly I became "grown-up" – though of course there's no real answer to that. The days quietly go until you’re wrinkled, but it's milestones like weddings that force you to stop and think about the past and where you are now.

I am not where I want to be right now: not where I planned to be at this age ten years ago. I can look at myself and think hey I'm not doing so bad, yeah I'm probably more established in my life than most people around me. I've already done things that were on my list, so to speak, and I'm not slowing down or anything, but I guess I just hoped I would have amounted to something more by now. It's inevitable that you'll be disappointed, I think, especially when you dream big, but it still sucks to sit at a table, drinking free wine and wondering how you have a goatee and are not in the career you dreamed of.

Poof! a.m.k. made this happen.
During those moments of the ceremony and reception when I felt teary, though, I had the important consolation that I’d at least done one thing right in my life. Ironically, that thing I did right wasn't intentional--I probably just double-booked myself that night and didn't mean to introduce them, I remember being relieved when they got along--but some of the most important things in life aren't intentional. You don't try to love someone, not at first, at least.

I don't believe in fate, but I do believe in making the most of what happens to you, which my two friends did. Hopefully soon enough someone can feel like they've done one thing right in their life by introducing me to that thing for my career to take off or put me in the right place and the right time to make something of myself, or by introducing me to my own soulmate. Maybe it already happened.

You should all get married so a.m.k. can come to your weddings and get emotional.