Monday, November 2, 2009

I Now Pronounce Thee…, Part 3


Summer had lingered a few extra days last year. The dry heat provided a comfortable insulation to the inevitable cold about to beat at falls door. The air smelled of cut grass as the fourteen year-old boys who mowed them saw an end in sight for their summer jobs. Cole and I, were on our way to a pair of wedding receptions. With the standard wedding gift in hand—a popcorn popper, to remind us all of the fond memories of movie-watching and chatting—we made our way to the church meetinghouses to say our final goodbyes to Faith and Glenda.

Perhaps that seems a little strong. Weddings are, of course, joyous occasions, but commitment (rightly) comes with consequences that can be related to death. Once married, your relationship with a person can never be exactly the same—part of your relationship with that person is laid to rest. As two become one, compromises must be made as your social calendars merge, your number of friends and family commitments doubles, and you save whatever time is left after work and school. With each couple, the level of change is different; while some couples virtually disappear others remain a significant part of their social circles through facebook or regular social interaction.

In LDS culture, marriage is perceived as a step up in maturity. You get to have more responsibilities, more fun (*cough*…sex…), and move out of the good ol' singles ward. That day, it was pretty easy to perceive the change that would soon occur in our group of friends. Both returned missionaries, Faith and Glenda returned hoping to marry upstanding RMs (returned missionaries) and marry in the temple. Faith (one of the more beautiful girls who attended our high school) returned quite well-adjusted to BYU with her smile as gleaming as ever eventually encountering the man she would one day marry a couple of years later.

Glenda, on the other hand, had a particularly difficult time returning to the life she left behind. Her mother and best friend providing all the love and support one could ask for still did not compensate for the re-entry awkwardness so many missionaries face. The boys she'd dated had left the church and she returned in poor health. The following months were quite difficult not only for her but for many of her friends. Like many missionaries (mostly male, however), everything we discussed for the next six months was somehow related to a 10-minute mission story.

It was also apparent that she wanted to be married and quick. Within a couple of weeks she'd manipulated me into a date (this is a story for another series... probably later this month) and in six months she'd brought one of her exes back to the church and shortly marry thereafter… leading us back to that sultry summer weekend.

Cole and I passed through wedding lines, chatted with the parents of brides and grooms alike and enjoyed refreshments. Sitting at the receptions to these two friends, we had a subdued conversation about marriage. We were happy for the two of them (at varying degrees) and for their growing awareness of what it means to love someone and to be with them for "time and all eternity," yet at the back of our heads a pair of elephants in the room became apparent the longer we enjoyed the festivities:

  1. Our closest friends are disappearing one by one.
  2. Will we ever be the ones falling in love and pairing off? (…Definitely not with each other, btw…that topic also deserves its own post).

We occupied the air with conversation of memories of our friends (dearly-departed to another world)—the alliterative nicknames Faith had given us, the surprise parties, the senior trip with Glenda, and, or course, popcorn—rather than with these worries that would will someday be resolved.

End, Part 3


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