Last weekend, my girlfriends threw me a bachelorette party. I was chauffeured by my friend Shannon to a local winery that was hosting an evening of live music and wine-tasting. They also had a food truck there with BBQ, but maid of honor Melissa and her cohorts had provided such an incredible spread—chicken salad croissants, fresh strawberries and grapes, veggies and hummus, delicious cupcakes with pink frosting and “pearls”—we never went near the truck. I was provided with the requisite tiara and a hot pink boa and gifted a basket filled with wedding-day-support supplies. We drank wine, we danced, we played a surprisingly difficult game where we had to guess whether a particular title belonged to a nail polish or a porn flick.
Should it really be that tough to tell the difference?
The weather was pitch perfect, the setting beautiful. As the sun dropped, the mountains in the distance shaded periwinkle, navy, then black. The band played until 10, and as darkness fell, my last wild fling as a single gal drew to a close.
I was home by 11 PM.
I suppose that’s what happens when you’re a forty-something first-time bride.
But I think the early and—naughty nail polish labels notwithstanding—generally tame nature of the evening was less about, ah, advanced age than it was a lack of a sense of urgency.
A bachelorette party gives you permission, of sorts, to be silly, cut loose, dance with abandon. I did my best! I felt like a princess (glittery crown and Royal Feathered Ring Pop included), and everything about the evening made me feel special–the details of the decorations, the generosity of my friends, the graciousness of those who danced with me even when the music was unfamiliar to us all. I was awed and deeply grateful.
I also, though, had a moment while I was out on the dance floor, when I felt a strange sense of peace. I realized that, beyond the boa, the evening felt so, well, normal. There wasn’t any sense this was some last hurrah, no pressure that I’d better enjoy hanging with my girlfriends now because everything was going to change, no worry that I might never have fun like this again.
Of the women who celebrated with me, one or two of them have been married nigh onto twenty years. A couple have been married one or four or six years. Some have been through tough divorces and remarried, others have never tied the knot. One is in a long-term committed relationship, while another recently said, “I don’t date. When would I date? I have all this other stuff I want to do.” One is thinking about trying Match.com again. One is engaged. Another is embarking solo on a journey of self-discovery filled with travels near and far. Several just returned from trips to places like Canada and Croatia. Most live local-ish, but my girlhood gal pal Sherry drove all the way from Georgia for the weekend.
So here’s what I know: My girlfriends all have rich, layered, complex lives. Yet no matter what the state of our romantic relationships, or where we find ourselves hanging our hats, we still get together and laugh. Drink wine. Talk about books. Share recipes and relationship stories and pictures of kids and pets. We hike up mountains and dance to 80s music. We’ve done it all before, and I have no reason to think anything else but that we’ll do it all again. There might not be a tiara involved, but if the universe is willing, we’ll have many more fun-filled evenings and heart-to-hearts.
And I’m so, so grateful for that, too.
Steve and I have talked at length about the vows we’ll make to one another. I’ve been thinking, too, about the vows I want to make to myself. At the top of the list:
- Make at least a couple of girlfriends dates a month. Honoring and investing in friendships outside the marriage enriches life and spreads the happiness wealth.
Other vows I make to myself, in support of a loving and lasting marriage:
- Travel somewhere by myself at least once a year. It doesn’t have to be a big trip, but it keeps things fresh, because Steve and I will have new stories to tell one another. And it’s good for me to remember I can be solo and self-reliant. I want to bring a whole person, always, to our union.
- Do something that scares me at least once a week. It doesn’t have to be scary to anyone else (cold-calling anyone makes me tremble), but again—sometimes it’s a little too easy to let a willing partner “rescue” you from the hard stuff, and while it’s good to need someone, it’s not good to become overly dependent.
- Make mental and physical space for quiet reflection. I am a better and nicer person (and a better partner and more present listener) when I journal, lose myself in a workout, or both.
- Write and make art: if I’m not doing either, I have lost a piece of myself somewhere, which means Steve will have lost a piece of me, too.
- Embrace change. Might as well. It’s inevitable. 🙂
Nineteen days and counting. Hoo boy.