I still remember the smell of frangipani in the air. It was a sticky, hot morning, and a grey thunderstorm was looming on the horizon. We were all feeling pretty rusty, after having celebrated the night with too many cocktails, and with loud music until late in the morning.
I was feeling out of sorts, lonely, and left out.
My best friend was getting married, and I was alone in Fiji, while the guy that I was so ashamed of introducing to my family and friends had decided (rightly so) not to join me for the wedding celebration. The dress I had been asked to chose (and pay for) wasn’t flattering, and it didn’t suit my porcelain skin and dark shaded hair and the puffiness of too many alcoholic nights.
I walked towards Bec’s bedroom; I was looking forward to sharing this moment of intimacy that only women can relate to, those few hours before you tie the knot, and get married to the man of your life. I gently knocked at the door of the seven rooms mansion we were all staying in preparation for the big day, and I received a shrieking “Go Away” as an answer. I walked in, half assured on what to do, not expecting to face someone so hysterical and angry as she was. I reached out, trying to calm her down with a warm embrace, talk her out of the state she was in, until I was gently pushed out of the door by her mum.
Her mum. Mums have a sense for approaching hurricanes, and they are forever ready to the bone to protect their beloved children.
I had never seen an angry bride before, but I also thought it was quite natural to feel uneasy and to have second thoughts on the wedding day. I was young, self-centered, and insensitive. I should have listened harder; I should have seen the unspoken truth. And I chose not to. When I got married, years later, I was cool as a cucumber.
There is a soothing certainty in marrying someone you respect and trust; it feels like receiving a warm blanket on a stormy day.
Bec, clearly, felt that her blanket was itchy, and smelled like naphthalin.
I walked to the other side of the house where the guests were conversating next to the pool, oblivious about the drama that was unfolding underneath the same roof, and they were keeping up the celebration by adding vodka to their coffees and splurging on leftover prawns and freshly baked croissants. The house was spotless, the fridge was filled with delicious and high-quality ingredients, the cellar door was stuffed to the brim, and the cleaners were making up the table for later on when we would come back from the mass.
Meanwhile the groom, Mark, was looking sharp and handsomely dressed; there was a tinge of nervousness that could only be caught by a droplet of sweat between his eyebrows, but all in all, he was put together, and he was radiating confidence. Or so I thought.
We chatted, as if nothing was about to happen as if that was a normal day, one of the millions that the three of us had spent together in the past couple of years. We went through drunken evenings, drug-loaded parties, overseas adventures, long hikes, and movies, we went through drama, matching making went bad (for me), and quiet nights made of pizza and hot cups of tea. The two of us used to fight a lot, whatever I did, I never did it good enough for him; whatever I wore, I was always too slutty or covered up; my hair colour was the wrong shade, my boyfriend was the worst possible choice, my job wasn’t paid enough. He always had something to say, which drove me mad. But we got along fine, and we talked beautifully and without interruptions for hours at end.
“Can you drive me to the ceremony?” he asked swiftly. Of course, I promptly replied. It made sense, and I didn’t want to spend too much time with crazy Bec, as she was beside herself, and acting as if it was all my fault.
I touched up my make-up, put my high heels on, and walked towards the car. Mark joined me in a matter of seconds and sat comfortably in the passenger seat.
I switched on the engine, and we made our way to the meeting point; as soon as we left the house, he muttered the following words; “Don’t you wish it was the two of us, on a normal day, going to someone else’s wedding?”
He caught me by surprise, he had always been a flirt, but he had never expressed anything so clearly before. I played along with humor, trying to change the conversation entirely.
“I don’t want to marry Bec,” he continued shamelessly, “We have 1 km to change our lives, you can drive me to my death, or you can take us to the airport and start a new life. I love you; it has always been you.”
I sat in shock, feeling cold on a 35 degrees morning, wondering how I managed to attract so much mess in my life. He held my quivering hand. I didn’t move it from the steering wheel. It all sounded so romantic, adventurous, out of a movie. Yet it was so fucked up, and I couldn’t even think about the people that would have gotten hurt by simply witnessing our conversation.
I didn’t want him. I didn’t have the gut to the tell him what he really deserved to hear, as I was hoping to prevent a shit bomb in the time frame it takes to drive a mere, short kilometer. In the meantime, the life outside the windows of our car kept on going smoothly, as if no one perceived the earthquake that just rocked my world.
I parked us outside the church, and I walked him in. I watched him getting married to my dear friend. I watched him watch him when the priest asked if “Anyone has any objections towards this marriage?”.
I let them exchange bands, kisses, and vows.
And do you know the worst thing? I felt guilty. I felt ashamed, as if it was all on me as if I lead him on if I made him believe a truth that had never been there. At the same time, I also knew I was linked to a lie that I will never be able to break and speak out.
We celebrated the night with good food, plenty of wine, and several jumps in the pool. I drank myself to oblivion. When I sat next to the bride on the couch, he came from behind and tickled my neck instead of hers. Her mum watched me; she saw me from the inside out; mums always know.
Fast forward to 3 months after the wedding, and after ten years spent together, it’s with little surprise that they asked for a divorce; on which grounds?
She was caught cheating relentlessly with someone she had known for months before the wedding. I honestly thought he was just a friend; we hung out on several occasions. The astonishing reality is that she wasn’t nervous about the wedding day in itself. She just wanted to call it off before stepping into the biggest mistake of her life.
I still got blamed for how things went. I had to pick Mark up from the verge of depression, I had to lie for Bec so she could keep up the appearances, and I was accused by their relatives for being the home wrecker. I was attacked, cyberbullied, judged for years to come.
What did I learn from it all?
To speak the truth, even when it hurts, and to get the hell out of family dramas.