The first time, I froze in a stall as the bride’s mother barged in looking for someone else, who was probably crying somewhere else. I took a deep breath, and returned to my table, where the rest of the guests sat neatly paired up. The second time, I stared at myself in a dimly lit mirror over a breathtakingly sculpted faucet and told the blubbering girl she was going to be fine. This evening isn’t about you, I advised. Suck it up and go celebrate with the happy couple. With ten or fifteen weddings under my belt, I think two crying jags is a decent record.
My cousin was married last weekend, and I didn’t cry at all. I was running back to the bar, not the bathroom, when I noticed my grandma sitting alone. I veered over and perched next to her. Earlier in the day, I’d flipped her earring snug against her lobe and zipped her into her pool blue suit. Everyone was probably telling her she had lovely blue eyes that day, although she doesn’t. They tell me the same thing when I wear blue. However, Grandma and I have green eyes. And the green was all glisteny as we spoke.
“It’s just sort of emotional,” she said. “I was looking at my wedding album the other day, and thinking about your grandpa.” About fifteen years ago, my grandpa fell over dead after his usual healthy routine of riding his bike and eating his oatmeal. “From the first time we met, we knew we were meant to be together,” she said. The sweetest thing she’s said is that they got married because they wanted to live together, and people couldn’t just move in back then, you know.
Then she said, “I know you’ll find the right person someday. I know it’ll work out for you.” On many previous occasions, this would have sent me straight to the bathroom. What was wrong with me? Why was I such a disappointment? This time (maybe too little wine, maybe too much?), I thought, wait, this isn’t about me. Grandma misses her husband. Grandma wants me to be happy.
I didn’t meet a man when I was nineteen and enjoy years of comfortable companionship, stability, and affection. Through her twenties, she was up night after night, feeding crying babies, and through mine, I was up night after night, dancing and drinking, reading or writing. Which is better? Neither of us knows.
So I agreed with her. It would all work out for me. Either I will throw a crazy fun wedding like this, where my cousins and aunts and uncles would swing their partners to “Cotton Eyed Joe” and Grandma would join a rousing interactive chorus of “YMCA,” or, you know, I won’t. It wasn’t really worth crying proactively, not knowing which would be better for me, or even what “better” means.
At midnight we had to abandon the reception hall, and the stragglers limped up to the hotel bar for one more drink. Grandma, to everyone’s delight, said she wanted to come along. A member of the bride’s family saluted our enthusiasm. “I’m impressed,” she raved from the next table over, waving her beer can. We sat in a long line, in front of the dark rainy windows, looking out at the floodlit swimming pool, until they sent us up to bed.