“Foolish modesty lags behind while brazen impudence goes forth and eats the pudding.” – Eleanor Brackenridge

A rejected wedding gown from the weekend

“Foolish modesty lags behind while brazen impudence goes forth and eats the pudding.” – Eleanor Brackenridge

Okay. So, I’d been told stories before about it. I’d always (impudently) brushed them off–couldn’t be completely true, I told myself. When the time comes, I can handle it. I’ve got a college degree, graduate degree, and a year of 60+ hour workweeks behind me. What can’t I handle?

And the time has come, and I am handling it…something akin to a puppy trying to take down a moose on her own. Wedding planning. It is as much a crazy, foaming-at-the-mouth moose as everyone warned that it would be.

I knew that an elopement was never in the cards (I’m an only, Carter’s family is v. traditional), so we got off to a flying start with pinning down venue, photographer, makeup artist, and coordinator within a month of engagement. And now, I am slogging through it. Decision fatigue is hitting me. I don’t want to really do it anymore.

But now some of the more aesthetic decisions are coming up, and I’m in charge of those more than Carter is. Wedding gown, bridesmaid dresses, colors, flowers, invitations, etc. I feel like I’m losing my mind a little bit. There are too many damn options, and the sheer multitude of options puts a strange hot pressure on me to make my wedding reflect “us”…what does that even mean? Anyway, I am fluctuating between total apathy and total internet-shredding bridezilla-ing.

I’m trying to rustle up some strength for this next round of decisions (the dress! the dress! the dress!). Upon reflection, I think here I need to keep in mind to carry me through this:

  1. Assertiveness. I am not by nature a terrifically assertive person. On most decisions, I tend towards apathy–I can make almost anything work for me. There are a few things, however, that I care a great deal about. Caring a lot + natural passivity = a bad bad time in wedding planning world. So far wedding planning has forced me to increase my assertiveness and decisiveness, such as rejecting a photographer that I loved but was wrong for us, and choosing a venue that wasn’t everything I wanted but was most things I wanted. Negotiating with/choosing catering companies and other vendors has pushed me to be more direct and forceful than I’m accustomed to being, which is overall a good thing. I guess. I don’t like it though.
  2. People pleasing: I need to keep this under control. In group work situations in the past I’ve been the diplomatic one–something of an assuager of sore feelings and a cushion between the more dynamic personalities on a team. This is good sometimes but other times my own wants get trampled on a bit. This is a bad remnant of my childhood. In negotiations with vendors now, I catch myself when I am trying to make things easier for them. No. That’s not what these business relationships are about.
  3. The end in sight! The point is to get married in a nice place with family and friends. Everything else is secondary.

We’ll see if this sticks…

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“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis

Wintry day in late 2012

Last night I had a dream that it was the first day of college all over again. Which was more than a decade ago! A bit scary to realize that. But yes, I dreamt that I was back to the first day of college. I woke up still in the thrall of the dream, and I lay prone in bed while my alarm chimed. I savored the remembered feeling of possibility, that anything could happen, that I could go anywhere, do anything, be anything. That was how I felt in college. It was glorious.

A few minutes later I got out of bed and went about the morning routine: brush teeth, shower, drink water, pack a piece of fruit for the commute. But the feeling still buzzed around my head like a cloud of bees. I’ve missed it. Haven’t felt it for, well, years!

One of the hard truths about being an adult is that you can’t do everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Being an astronaut precludes being a ballerina which precludes being a lawyer which makes it impossible to also be a doctor. So I think adulthood is about choices. As a child you are pushing the boundaries, learning what you can do, what you can’t, and what the world is willing to offer you–and what it won’t. As adults, we choose. We choose to be the astronaut but not the lawyer. We choose to live in Los Angeles and therefore not in Katmandu. We say goodbye to all those other possibilities.

So as happy as I am in my life and while I have utterly no wish to exchange it, I do occasionally miss that sense of could be.

The only time when I can feel it again is when I dream, as I did on New Year’s Eve, or when I draw or write. Then everything changes; the lines of my life are erased and I can create something new, even if it is small or strange or impossible.

I think that maybe watching children grow up gives adults a sense of this again, vicariously. I remember adults telling me, while I was in high school or college, that those were “the best years of my life.” I remember thinking how sad that was. Now I suspect that sentiment didn’t come from, say, enjoying the rather shallow delights of late adolescence, but rather from that sense of could be. They were on the edge of everything.

Then they started making choices, or decisions, and maybe they felt that their lives were pinched in.    So that time when they could have gone almost anywhere–made almost any choice–was crystallized in memory as the best years, the best time.

As much as I love could be I want to love what I am doing now, and what is happening in my life now. I see no reason why these years can’t be the best years of my life, or why the years to come can’t be their own kind of amazing. There is less could be and there is less of that kind of arms-wide-open possibility as time passes, but everywhere there are cracks in the structure. And they give me a sense of perspective that pure freedom never could.

My life is better now than it has ever been. Could be is to now as grape juice is to wine. I want to taste it properly, appreciate its richness and fathom its depths. That’s a good goal for the new year.