Bridalville: Episode One
There is actually something called "Unmarried and Single Americans Week" that has,
apparently, been being celebrated since the 1980s. I imagine I didn't know about its inception or existence due to the fact that I began dating my future husband shortly after 1980 and became betrothed shortly before 1990. So the 80s wasn't a "singles awareness" kind of decade for me.
From Sandi's vintage treasure trove of weirdness: Bride and Groom in a box. Ooooh....scary! :)
Full disclosure (or at least partial): I recently held a part-time job at a bridal shop for nearly four months. I took the job at the start of the new year to jettison myself out of my apartment (where I write and engage in creative ventures) into the world to socialize more frequently during the cold and often unbearably grey New England winter. My goal was to make it through their "busy season" ~ January through April. And by the grace of God/The Universe I actually made it! I was admittedly often at risk of suffering a slow and painful death due to blood loss from the frequent biting of my tongue during my hours spent working there.
I have witnessed women ordering expensive gowns two years in advance of their wedding, and
I have bitten my tongue as I held back, "I hope you still like one another by then. This dress is not returnable. Are you sure you wouldn't rather wait a bit longer?"
I have seen bridesmaids visibly cringe and make the sad face (or resentful face) emoji as they handed over their credit card and went into more debt for yet another relatively ugly polyester gown in a color that does not make any human look good and I have bitten my tongue as I held back, "Don't do it!"
And I have heard a bride-to-be, whilst adorned in her own wedding ensemble, exclaim to her innocent, cute-as-a-button-four-year-old daughter..."Let's go find YOUR wedding dress now!" And then, after dressing her up in a diminutive and poofy little Disney Princess number meant for a flower girl (aka: bride in training), added a veil to complete the picture.
And although my motherly instinct was to grab that little girl and take her away to a social services office whilst reassuring her, "Don't worry sweetheart...It's okay to be single. Your mommy's wedding gown corseting is cutting off the blood-flow to her brain!" I bit my tongue.
I have so very much to say on this topic. Thoughts on weddings. Thoughts on marriage. Thoughts on
our wacky American ideas on what a woman "should" have in her life in order to be happy. Thoughts on the ridiculousness of going into debt for a society-approved brand of wedding and a piece of government-issued paper proving that you love someone.
Thoughts on love. And on loving ourselves.
Clearly, there is far too much to express in a singular blog post, but working at a mainstream bridal store has truly been a transformative experience. I mean, I was married. And although the whole "husband dropping dead on me" thing definitely left me with some initial bitterness (as well as understandable aversion to going down that particular road again!) and I have publicly stated more than once, "I will not get married again because the last thing I'm going to end up as is a "Widowed Divorcee!" I have also publicly and in my heart always said, "never say never."
I don't disapprove of the idea of marriage itself. But, after being "unmarried" for over sixteen years now, I am increasingly amazed at and aware of how twisted our society is in regard to the concept of marriage. How deeply it is drilled into the hearts and psyches of women ~ from toddlerhood till menopause (and beyond!)~ that marriage and partnering up is the Holy Grail of Happiness.
It's not. There. I said it.
Earlier one day a few weeks ago, upon leaving my five hour shift at the bridal shop, I sincerely pondered the question, "Sandi, are you merely bitter because your husband died....and you AREN'T married...and you wish you were?"
But no. The answer to that question came back a resounding NO.
It then dawned on me that I have somehow transcended the fantasy and entire idea of marriage.
That it's one of those "societal norms" that I grew up with. That I have outgrown. That I accepted
as a benchmark of happiness. As something to strive for. When it's not. It's merely part of our "domestication." (For more on the concept of domestication, please read Don Miguel Ruiz!)
I have always known that losing my husband and my son would cause me to, at some juncture, move beyond the beliefs that are drilled into our noggins by society from the time we can absorb information. I just didn't know which beliefs they would be. I was always kind of excited to one day sit back and realize, "Ummm...yup...don't believe in THAT one anymore." WOW. Cool!
And of course, now that I've aired these thoughts, I'm sure in a year or five, you'll be invited to my wedding.
Meanwhile, I'll be throwing a lavish party during the next "Unmarried and Single Americans Week."
And I won't make anyone wear polyester. ;)
Sending you love and kisses, as always...