“Write about love,” she asked.
Three weeks before her wedding, one of my closest friends asked me to create a poem to follow the exchange of vows.
The world stopped at her request. My limbs stretched and my arms grasped for adjectives to describe this mysterious force. However, no matter how hard I scraped the air, my hands came back empty. My current life was filled with turbo jets, career ladders, and see and be seen parties. Love was too intimated to enter. In desperation, I went back through my collection of memorabilia from a different time.
I dusted off an old tin and combed through par avion envelope sealed love letters, their contents full of passions past. I scoured my shelves for books of poetry, hoping my penciled thoughts in the margins of e.e. cummings may provide insights into an emotion I no longer understood.
However, I had a feeling that my past romances weren’t the correct material for a wedding ceremony. I needed something that was solid, lasting, and current-just like my friendship with Colindra. I boarded the plane, hoping that I would be enlightened in the Pacific Northwest, a place I used to claim as my own.
Upon arrival at the Seatac airport, Colindra’s mom, Mrs. Evans, came to get me along with multiple other relatives. “It is SO good to see you,” she said in an accent still marked by the south.
We had a party at baggage claim while we waited for everyone to arrive. Mrs. Evans was not the type of woman to leave others to fend for themselves. Each wedding visitor was guaranteed a pickup and three hour ride to Whidbey Island, the magical wedding destination. This human dedication was a warm surprise in my life of taxis, town cars, and general disinterest for how you got from point A to B.
As I hugged the expanse of relatives now crowding baggage claim # 16, I felt a little trickle of love.
After a rowdy ride in the Evan’s large van, we reached the Whidbey Island farmhouse at 1 am where Colindra was waiting for us, preparing decorations. She thanked me for making it to her wedding…”I know how busy you are,” she said.
I gulped. “But of course I would be here,” I answered, realizing that my series of “I’m overloaded” Facebook and Twitter updates may have indicated otherwise. Social media has documented my demise from a bohemian writer to an overcommitted workaholic.
I longed to turn back the clock to a different version of myself, a version that Colindra knew. Our lives have interlaced through each other’s for 16 years. She’s seen me at my truest….and my most false. As my body pressed in to hers for a hearty hug, I felt another surge of love. “Teach me,” I thought.
The next day more guests arrived from Ireland and Louisiana. Accents filled the air and the Southern Baptists made friends with the Irish Catholics and whooped it up over crazy talk and dance. Religion gets a bad reputation; I’ve never had this much fun with atheists.
I finally met the groom John, the Irishman that had wooed one of my dearest friends while I was far away. Her phone voice had given away her twitterpated sensation long ago and I was eager to see the reciprocity in his. However, John didn’t need to open his mouth. His bright blue eyes sparkled with joy as he looked at Colindra with pure adoration.
To watch them was to love.
My parents finally arrived on the scene in matching dance outfits. My mother had often spoken to me about love. “It a series of threads,” she said. “Each day is another part of your tapestry.” She and my father had woven a large one, enough to cover our family in warm security for a lifetime.
I started to wonder if I had my life all wrong. I didn’t have a tapestry myself-just patches of different materials that refused to be quilted. Could I find a thread to sew them together?
With my mind on story weaving, I joined the other bridesmaids at the nail salon for paint and champagne rounds to prepare for our celebration. My aesthetician had moved to Whidbey island from a metropolis life a few years ago to raise her children. “Here people don’t judge you by what you do, “ she said. “They judge you by who you are.”
Her comment haunted the corners of my mind for I knew that city convention was contrary to the love I was starting to reclaim on the island. It was a land where tender caresses outdid college pedigrees and a witty joke was more valuable that your job title.
I returned to the farmhouse to change into my rehearsal dinner dress and paused to stare at myself naked in the mirror. My body had grown slightly rounder than the expired modeling contracts would allow, but perhaps there were other ways I could be valued.
With painted nails, a belly full of bubbly, and a newfound sense of purpose, I got out my Macbook and started to type my poem for the ceremony. Perhaps writing about love wasn’t that hard after all. All it takes is looking at the life around you.
My dear college friend Christine read over my lines and gave me a thumbs up.
She knew that happiness and love isn’t having what you want-it’s wanting that which you already have.