For Better or Worse

 
I lie in bed awake, staring at the ceiling. Unwilling to put forth the effort of crying. Unable to silence my mind towards sleep. Legs extended before me, I run my right hand towards my hairline, pressing my palm into the top of my forehead. I bring my left hand to my face as an accompaniment to my right, rubbing my eyes to rid my head of its thoughts. My efforts are to no avail.

I draw my hands together behind my head, sharing its weight between them. I lie as a man would, casually, and, for its strength, my posture begins to relax me. I regain control again, if only a bit. I roll my head to the left, and my eyes won’t ignore the photos.

 

Those photos. The few remaining ones. Left there, untouched. It was never meant to be a complete collage that way, with only those photos, yet it remains as it was.

Photos of us. Odd and narcissistic selections. Our senior pictures. Us on the beach, alone and together. Us at wedding.

Us at a wedding. Caught waiting for the ceremony to start. Me, mid-smile, and you, making a face. But it was us and I liked it, so it’s there. When things were changing.

 

My skin is smooth and your arms are strong. I can tell. I remember.
I’m a sophomore and you’re a junior. Well just nearly, since it’s August. We’re in college and we’re transferring schools. And things are changing.

And we’re a bit nervous but mostly excited. We’ve done long-distance before and we’ve made it work. And besides, these are good changes for both of us, and we’re getting married eventually anyway.

It’s us at a wedding and we’re in no hurry but we’re planning our own.

Well we will be, soon. We know this.

 

I look at the photo and I know it’s not true. There is no we. We are not planning a wedding. We will not be planning a wedding soon. We will never be planning a wedding.

 

I lie in bed awake and I think. A year ago, I interviewed for an internship. Perhaps it was a year ago today. I don’t know anymore. Perhaps. It was another life and in the life that’s happened since there are other dates to remember, like February 27.

A year ago, I was offered an internship with one of the premier wedding planners on the East Coast. A year ago, I wanted to be a wedding planner. A year ago, I wanted to execute high touch weddings. A year ago, I wanted my life to revolve around cakes and venues and table settings. A year ago, I wanted to make my life the business of creating beautiful weddings.

Today, I do not want to plan weddings. Today I do not want to talk about signature drinks or towering centerpieces or designer dresses. Of all the components that I least want to talk about – all the wonderful, lovely components – the last thing I want to talk about is the dress.

 

I see me in a snapshot on my wall at a wedding, and I realize that it is a tough pill to swallow. Though caught at a poorly timed moment on a humid summer day, the me in the photo still smiles. Now, I am disappointed.

I tell myself that plans change. I tell myself that it will all work out, and it’ll be even better than I imagined in the end. I tell myself that it will be someone else, and I know that I really have accepted that. I tell myself a list of all the pros to outweigh the cons, the way I nearly always do.

But still, I lie in bed awake, staring at the ceiling. My mind is a jumble of the life I had then and the life I have now. All combining in a mental swirl, I see purple hydrangeas and golden script and white lace and pink peonies. At the same time, their elegance is being edged out the bolder hues found in company backgrounders and plane tickets and university logos.

And in my mind, out of constant necessity, the shades of independence begin to conquer the shades of love, and those of freedom edge out those belonging to commitment.

 

Still, I fight to remember the dream of an engagement and a wedding and a husband. I fight to remember another life that I had begun to build. As I look over again, I close my eyes, thinking.

I remember that I wanted to plan weddings because I anticipated my own.

I compare the me in the photo to the me in my bed, and I feel my left hand tighten into a fist. This Janie cannot plan a wedding, and this Janie struggles to accept love. This Janie may be stronger and she may be wiser, but for better or worse she is not the same Janie.

 

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Comments
2 Responses to “For Better or Worse”
  1. I hear you. I am listening…

  2. Ray Sikes says:

    Janie, this is powerful and honest and true. It all, too, will eventually be better, not worse.

    Love, Day

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