Friday, September 16, 2011

The Walk

Love is the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another.  It is with a person’s sense of life that one falls in love—with that essential sum, that fundamental stand or way of facing existence, which is the essence of a personality. One falls in love with the embodiment of the values that form a person’s character and create the style of his soul. It is one’s own sense of life that acts as the selector, and responds to what it recognizes as one’s own basic values in the person of another.  Thus, to say ‘I love you’ one must know first how to say the ‘I.’

- Ayn Rand (as compiled and read during our ceremony by our friend, Michael)

When I think back to our wedding day, the memory that hits me hardest is my walk down the aisle.

It's probably because I was so unprepared for it.

You see, I didn't know until it happened that I would be walking part of the way down the aisle alone since I didn't pay attention at the rehearsal (typical).  So you can imagine my surprise (and panic) when we reached the end of the chairs and I found myself released from my parents' steady grips, with nothing to lean on, no one to take the lead, and 15 feet of empty aisle ahead of me.  Every part of me wanted to reach out, grab them back to me and hiss frantically "Don't leave me here alone with all these people watching!"  (Luckily for everyone involved, I kept that impulse to myself.)

I remember a painful awareness, then, that I was all alone, standing in a rather ostentatious dress, awkwardly holding a bunch of thrown-together flowers, trembling with adrenaline.  Oh yeah, and there were 150 pairs of eyes watching me, waiting, expecting a bride.  What do I do with my hands?  Am I supposed to hold this bouquet with both of them?  That feels too weird to be right.  Why does it even matter?  It totally doesn't matter.  Maybe I should just toss them under a chair and hope no one else cares about the flowers.  And these shoes can go, too.  Am I supposed to smile?  I think that's physically impossible right now.  What's wrong with my cheeks?  Ohmygod I am totally failing at being a bride.  Why am I here?  Tell me again why we didn't elope?!

I felt distinctly overdressed.  And completely vulnerable.

I looked down the aisle at Brian seeking some kind of assurance that there was a reason I was going through all of this; that somehow, this fumbling mess would turn into us being married if I just made it to the end of that aisle, even if I ditched the flowers and the shoes, and that married was worth it.  And thank God (whichever one you prefer) I did, because it was there, in his eyes, and I needed it -- confidence.  He had known from the beginning that I would be here, walking down the aisle to meet him, and he believed in it.  Plus, somehow, he was still waiting there, wanting to promise his life to me despite my awkward unbrideliness.  He even looked like he might think I looked beautiful.  I trusted him.  Maybe if he can't tell I'm falling apart, no one can?  There was hope, at least.

But most of all, what I felt was relief.  The relief of knowing that we had won the battle for togetherness.  That after choosing each other over and over, through college, living abroad, grad school, job interviews, traveling Monday through Thursday, relocating, relocating again, planning this stubborn wedding, we were now to be rewarded.  The relief of knowing that the decisions I had made had been the right ones; of knowing that my future was now securely in the hands of the person I loved and trusted most; of knowing that I wasn't alone, and would never be alone because we had made sure it would be us.  It wasn't just me standing in that room anymore, then; it was us, together, on purpose.  And we had earned this.

But for the last few steps of that aisle, it was just me.  So.  I (still awkwardly, but with determination now) took that bouquet in both hands, made a mental note not to trip, and all on my own, decided to place one foot in front of the other, to meet my husband at the end of the aisle, and to marry him.  I chose togetherness for the last time.

I walked quickly, too fast for the music, anxious just to get there, just to squeeze his hands, just to be together at the end of that aisle.  It was not the composed procession you see in the movies, and it was not particularly pretty.  But it was real.  It was terrifying and it was freeing, and most of all, it was acutely honest.  It was the moment I have felt most myself in all of my life.

I was not being "given away," I was giving myself over.  Looking back, I would not have had it any other way.

And when it was over, I was so proud.  Proud of my choice of husband, proud of our decision to form a family, proud of how we were doing it.  I'm prouder still, today.

Happy first anniversary to my favorite person.  
May we always remember what it felt like to choose each other.


Emily said...

I relate to each one of your feelings as you walk down the aisle, though I haven't done it yet myself. So comforting to read this! :)

Ashley said...

It was quite an experience! However your walk feels for you, I hope you are able to remember it forever!