November 2010

Wedding-bell blues

By Suzanne Strazza

I just went to a wedding.

But this was no ordinary wedding. This was Lucy’s wedding.

Who’s Lucy? She was my very best friend in high school and the only person from high school with whom I keep in touch. When I think back to those awkward formative years, all of the good memories include Lucy.

A little background on this wedding. . .

Lucy, who is a manatee specialist and lives half the year in Florida and the other half in Gabon (Africa), never married because she never met a man who could embrace her lifestyle. Last winter she met a Senegalese sea turtle expert and the rest is history.

So not only have we all been waiting for over 25 years for Lucy to get married but she is moving to Senegal, so this was a last chance to see her unless I somehow manage to get myself to West Africa, which is highly unlikely.

This also meant that everyone else she invited would be there too. In other words, marking the “yes” box on the invite meant that I was headed to a mini high-school reunion.

I almost backed out.

Here I was, walking into the lion’s den, so to speak: 10 individuals with whom I had had no contact since I ran away with my high-school diploma.

All in the same place at the same time.

I mentally prepared myself by assuming the worst of each of them. They would be stressed out from their corporate lifestyle, overweight for sure, pasty white from never going outside, miserably unsatisfied parents who didn’t know their children as well as their nannies did, married to uptight, balding men.

I couldn’t have been more wrong in my superiority. No one looked like she had aged a day. Actually, since none of them spends time in the high-altitude sun, they weren’t nearly as wrinkled and weathered as I am. There were some gray hairs but other than that, no one looked any different than in high school.

Shit.

The spouses that came to the wedding were charming, funny, handsome and adored their wives.

I am divorced. And the only one of my kind at the wedding. It sort of makes you feel like a pariah to be divorced at a wedding – like you are the bad-luck charm and should avoid talking to the newlyweds for fear of rubbing off on them.

But I did spend a lot of time catching up with the others.

Here is a sampling of some of the weekend’s conversations…

One of Them: “Meet my husband, we have been together since freshman year in college and we are still madly in love.”

Me: “Oh, mine just walked out on me after 15 years.”

One of Them: “I run a publishing house.”

Me: “I work three jobs to put enough food on the table for my teenage sons.”

“I own my own business.”

“I work in a place that has no indoor plumbing. I pee in the driveway.”

(In the rain. Sometimes in front of my coworkers.)

“My children are competitive sailors.”

“Mine are super competitive football players – on the Wii.”

“I live in a house (read: mansion) in the area where we grew up.”

“My house is being foreclosed upon so I just moved into a tiny rental in a tiny town on a dirt street, four doors down from my ex.”

“I make my own bread and goat cheese.”

“I serve my kids frozen Taquitos because I am too lazy to cook.”

“I got married at The Plaza.”

“I got married outside and it snowed.”

“We served lobster tail.”

“I had a potluck.”

“I just ran a 100-mile race, in the Wasatch mountains.”

“One time, I got off my ass and walked 3 miles.”

“I just took my children to Paris, Barcelona and Venice.”

“I took mine to Utah.”

And on and on.

Crazy thing is, I never felt judged. I even began to think that maybe I had imagined that the high-school years were miserable. Maybe I fit in more than I remembered. And then it happened. . .

“Slug lips! It’s so good to see you!”

Ah, yes, I was right. High school was torturous. But, even with the re-surfacing of the hated nickname, I still had fun. Maybe 27 years apart did soften the edge.

I danced. I laughed. I even caught myself screaming, “Oh my god, it’s so good to see you!” (even though I swore that I would NOT be that “Oh my god” person).

I will probably stay in touch with some of them now.

Or maybe not.

But I am glad that I had this opportunity to see everyone. Thrilled that Lucy finally found love and that I was able to share this with her before she moves halfway around the world.

And, even though, in comparison, my life looks a little less shiny than many of theirs, I was happy to return home to Colorado.

Besides, a lot of people pay a lot of money these days to have slug lips like mine.

Suzanne Strazza writes from Mancos, Colo.