My very first girlfriend in New York is a gal named E.
We went to the same college, though she’s seven years my senior, so at different times. When I moved, I emailed anyone and everyone I could, asking for job leads and to introduce me to people they knew in New York. As desperately as I wanted to be an editor, I also didn’t want to be alone in my favorite place either. A college newspaper alumnus put me in contact with E and ironically, on the day I was offered my first job, E and I had plans to meet for dinner and drinks.
As a designer who has pieces currently available at Anthropologie and an impeccable sense of style, E may be tiny in stature, but she’s big in heart and personality. When we first met, I was amazed at the easy flow of the conversation and by her tenacious spirit; not to mention she shared the same affinity for the city as I do – a quality that will never be old to me.
We now have drunken memories and inside jokes, trips we’ve taken and friends we’ve introduced one another to – but she’ll always be the first lady I called a girlfriend on this island. For that reason, she’ll always be part of my life.
And also because she’s totally, always, completely herself. She never makes excuses and she does what she says she’ll do, doesn’t do what she says she won’t. Call it stubborn, I call it brilliant and beautiful.
Case and point, this Sunday when E, M, R, and I headed to Long Beach for a day of bathing and bubbly goodness. The weather could not have been more perfect and though the day started with M’s mad dash to catch the departing train (she made it with a minute to spare), it was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon: burning our skin into a nice shade of pale/tan and chit-chatting in girl speak. After four hours of laying out, cheeseburgers the size of my face, and ice cream cones overly priced at $3.75 for a single scoop, we caught the train back to Penn.
To pass the hour trip – which we were never charged for luckily enough – we decided to play “Would you rather?” in true mature, 20-something fashion. Of course, this was my idea as I can’t stand idle quietness during any trip, unless its 12 hours long or something absurd like that. Does that make me an obnoxious traveling companion? Probably so. But does that make for good conversation? Totally.
Someone proposed the question of: “Huge diamond or designer dress?” We all traded a very large rock for the gown, but my friend E added in: “You know, I have no desire to have a wedding.” Disgusted, my friend R stammered, “Whaaa? How could you not want a wedding?? You don’t want to have a big party and get married in front of all your friends and family?”
Calmly, E replied, “I want a reception to celebrate, but I don’t want a wedding. I don’t have any need for it. I’m more concerned with the marriage.” R continued to quiz her, asking if she wanted a wedding dress (sure, but it doesn’t need to be white or long, just nice), and who would be her witness (you can have friends and family in the courthouse), and if something had happened to her to wreck her dreams of having a wedding (nope).
R and E are obviously very different and at times, I’m surprised they get along with one another – but as M and I sat and listened to their conversation, I felt a certain affinity for E. Not wanting to have a big, ol’ fat wedding – Greek or not – isn’t the norm today. Especially in an age where the grander the wedding, the better, and if you’re not registered at three places you’re damned, and if you don’t have a wedding website, all of your friends on Facebook are annoyed they can’t stalk you (even if you haven’t talked for years). People go into debt for weddings, they take out loans, and they become bride and groom-zillas. Couples break up because they plan a wedding. Women go into depression after it because there is nothing spectacular left to look forward to.
But that’s where the wedding industry has it wrong and where E has it right: it’s not about the wedding day. It’s about all the days that follow it. It’s not about being the bride, it’s about learning to be yourself while being a wife.
And in her true self, she spoke that simple wisdom so many tend to forget, and maybe something I’ll eventually have to remind myself of should that happily-ever-after ring my buzzer. As for E, I have no doubt she won’t have a wedding with a man who is much himself as she is herself, and I can’t wait to drink her signature Jack & Coke at her non-reception…reception.