March 28, 2015 Leave a comment
I’m getting married. We now have a date several months hence, making everything frighteningly real.
Here is a thing people say to you when you’re getting married.
“It’s YOUR day to do what YOU want.”
Now it might be less bullshit if you’re totally up for the whole big wedding thing; a lavish public performance of your love in a big ornate church, followed by a grand reception in a castle; if you’re into all the traditions and have a large close family and tons of friends.
If you’re less bothered about the whole performance, perhaps if you’re less fussed about the ‘getting’ part of marriage altogether, it feels like it is bullshit.
I want to be married. As for the getting married part, if I was able to be massively selfish we’d probably just do it in five minutes in an office – which is tantalisingly possible.
However, that would be heartbreaking for my family, and particularly my mother – who I’ve found increasingly hard work of late.
Her inability to converse without immediately refocusing any subject on her own experience is immensely exhausting. The way she looks at me like I’m a starving African she’s with whom she’s unable to communicate. She asks no questions of me, and when I do volunteer information it doesn’t register. Her brain simply pans for her own nearest reference point so she can talk about that.
She can be blithely cruel and patronising to neighbours, apparently needing to feel better than them. She can be tactless and embarrassingly candid to my partner about her admittedly dysfunctional family. (You can say things within a family that you just cannot say outside it). She can be a total snob, as can my Dad: that whole needing to feel better than everyone in a small village. They seem more confined to their bubbles than ever.
This might just be a thing that happens to everyone as you reach later years of life. I’ve noticed it a lot recently. From your 50s you grow more snug and comfortable in what you know and like. You slide into becoming more alienated or uncaring about what you don’t. So you stick to it, ask fewer questions, and your general world view shrinks.
Still, for all this, out of dutiful son obligation, because you must ALWAYS keep your parents happy, I accept and tolerate it, and try not to snap. They have given me a lot, and I should probably be more grateful. Even so, if I ever become a father, I would hate for there to be a time when my child feels as remote from me as I feel from my parents now. From the outside looking in, it must look fine. To neighbours who see my car in the driveway semi-regularly. The truth is that we barely understand each other and ‘connect’ on only the dimmest level.
Nonetheless, we are doing the wedding thing in part – albeit scaled down registry office and something afterwards (to be decided), because it would hurt my family if we did not.
Another aggravation is, of course, him: the brother. In speaking to him on the phone he was his typical excitable, theatrical, embarrassing pantomime dame. I much prefer the sober, serious guy I see on television to this flouncy irritating buffoon who gets under my skin like no other human on the planet. Grunting to him on the phone like the teenage version of myself he always makes me feel, out of reciprocal obligation I asked him to be co-best man (as I was for his wedding around a decade ago). Even though he makes my skin crawl. I tried to dodge questions about Stag Dos. I’ll go out for a few beers with my other best man, one of my best friends. Other than that, I’m not bothered – especially if it involves my brother.
Now is a time with stress. A few weeks ago my main source of income was cut when the dim, blank people in an office where I’d worked for the better part of 12 months decided not to renew my contract. They were persuaded by a newish member of staff: a Frenchwoman in her mid-40s, hired to train and hire other people. She was high on cranky zany va-va-voom energy, positivity, motivation exercises and inspirationalism; low on everything else. We never really hit it off. She hired a new person to replace me for less money. The higher-ups didn’t care that much, cared most about money. I was out the door inside two weeks.
Cashflow is now tight, and all going in one direction. I’m barely making any money and have little clue what I’ll be doing for work in the next few months leading up to the wedding. (The call centre? Surely not the call centre? Please not the call centre. I am STILL not better than the call centre?! It has featured in a cold-sweat dream or two).
I am working pretty hard on my own business things – which brings in limited cash. I am back applying for jobs I don’t want again, getting nowhere. I am grouchy, irritable of my partner’s messiness and a little snappy. I feel entirely inadequate, my esteem is low and I am simply scared about the future. My parents know my circumstance, somewhere must sense this, and ask nothing about it. My bride is immensely supportive, almost equally critical of my remote parents, yet somehow still wants to be my bride.
Sso HEY!! WEDDING!! HOW EXCITING!!! You MUST be excited!
On the day I will try to plaster on a smile, accept people saying how it is OUR day to do what WE want, but we must invite these people and have this and this and that, and no you can’t do that! Are you crazy? Right now it all feels a little overwhelming, potentially painful. I am dreading all the bullshit.
I will try and fake my way through everything without snapping. It will not be easy.