My childhood best friend is getting married shortly (a June wedding; classic, of course). Despite the fact that we've been largely out of touch for the past few years, my family and I were still invited. My dad bowed out-- weddings aren't exactly his thing-- but my S.O gamely agreed to be my date, anyhow. What startled me the most about these upcoming nuptials wasn't the fact that I actually have a date to a wedding; it wasn't that my childhood best friend, one year older than I, was getting married; it was, rather, the fact that I remember sneaking downstairs for midnight snacks with her in 5th grade, laying on the carpet on our backs in front of the drink cart in my parent's dining room, and planning out her wedding. That's when it hit me as I read her wedding invitation and RSVP card--
We're not playing little-girl games anymore.
And it shows. Lately, I've been feeling a sort of shift in myself and my desires in relationships that I thought was imperceptible to everyone but myself, until in the eyes of my first college roommate, I finally saw reflected a very different vision than the college freshman who used to slink back into our cramped dorm room ashamedly at 2 AM from her forays in the RA’s room, sex hair rampant. I was poised. I was graduating. I was in a functional, happy, mature relationship that was defined by the both of us in accordance of what we wanted, what we needed, and what we were looking for from each other. I was—Jesus Christ—in love. What shocked me most was when she commented after I told her that my current relationship was making me realize how much the past, less-serious relationships I had been in irked me in their undefined, let's-just-see-where-this-takes-us-before-one-or-both-of-us-abruptly-jump-ship, laissez-faire attitudes, "I've seen how you've struggled and been hurt, even when you said you didn't want anything that was serious, because I knew you'd figure it out for yourself, one day."
Me? Actually be one of those girls her likes her relationships done defined with a side of seriousness, going in a positive, delineated fashion? Mais, non!
Mais, oui! As we stood on the corner of Church Street and Main last night, my S.O referred to me in passing to his friend as "my girlfriend." And that's when I realized-- I haven't had a guy call me his "girlfriend" since I was a junior in high school, and that's also the same guy who ended up proposing to me. Since then, I've been "my friend," "the girl I'm seeing," "the girl I'm sleeping with," or just plain "Carissa," but never the "girlfriend." Until now, when I've met the family and keep my pear-and-sugar exfoliating scrub in his shower and have brought him back to my hometown. It makes me wonder if all of this-- the meeting of the families, the mature partnership and cohabitation, the giving of solid, concrete titles, the endeavoring to actually, I don't know, BE TOGETHER-- was what was missing in the rest of my relationships, and thus, why they all ended up failing. While watching an episode of SATC yesterday, it brought up the question: If men and women are like cabs, cruising around with our lights off while we pick up and discard all sorts of people until we finally decide the time is right-- post-college, post-nearly a decade of dating debacles, post-living abroad, and now, pre-friend-in-the-same-age-group's weddings-- are our lights now suddenly on?
While pop culture knowledge may say that I should now be desperately plotting how to wrangle a man into my marriage bed now that my friends are starting to say their "I do"s, I say "I don't"; I may not be on the fast-track to engagement or marriage (the only thing I like about engagements is the ring, because I adore diamonds, and the only reason I'd really like to get married is to put my Star Wars-themed wedding plans into action; both of which don't quite seem like good enough reasons to do either), but there are some disturbing signs pointing to the fact that I may, quite possibly, be one of those "pod people" types who is actually happy inside of her relationship, just the way it is. You know, those couples who are always together, just happen to end up wearing matching outfits, and constantly use the word "we" all the time? You know, pod people. "We" people. "'We' went here," "'We' did that," people. But then I rolled over this morning, and suddenly realized the novel "Chasing Harry Winston" by Lauren Weisberger was on top of my reading pile, while "The Bridesmaids" was on my Movies-To-See List, and my mother and I had recently debated the choice of my childhood best friend having her reception at The Legion and the S.O and I had ended up in front of the engagement display, comparing tastes, while on a trip to Periwinkles to find him a watch. I started getting suspicious. Maybe I was getting antsy. Meanwhile, in the formulation and brainstorming process of writing this post and getting into the "wedding" frame of mind, I've been trolling countless big-name jeweler sites, ring-watching. (If you don't think it's not a competitive sport for women, guess again.) And until I found this ring on Harry Winston's site, which isn't even an engagement ring, I was rather lackadaisical about the whole thing. Still no real drive to hear wedding bells. Still entirely loathe to put together a guest list (my own personal nightmare). And then, I saw the ring. Imagined what it could look like with a diamond crowning it, instead of a sapphire. Thought about how I could rope my father, a jeweler, into designing and making something similar. And I suddenly got it. The itch. The diamond fever. I realized that every relationship before now was wrong because we weren't on the same page. They were all in the casual lane while secretly, unbeknownst to even myself, I was in the "Skyscraper ring on my left ring finger" lane. I started wondering where I could find decent flower arrangements and a hot pink Gerber daisy bouquet. Then, I caught myself. I almost, unknowingly, without being on guard, let myself slip into the "we" people zone again. The diamond almost got me. While I may be the sort of girl who has rediscovered that she cherishes being called "the girlfriend," I'm still not the sort of girl who thinks picking place settings and napkin fabrics out is a good use of my time, when I could be, I don't know, catching up on all the new episodes of Sons of Anarchy or creating a new, catchy acronym for inappropriate relationships (P.I.W.B: Professor I Would Bang, anyone?). So, while I may be discovering, through my relationships, through my friends, and through myself, what sort of pod person I really am, I'm also still not overly tuned into my biological clock or life plan. It was all the ring. The fucking ring. Weddings. They're still on my "highly skeptical; treat as you would a leper patient" list.