Monday, August 18, 2008
What Wedding Dress Shopping Taught Me About Love
The image of the bride-to-be, emerging from her dressing room, her face glowing with happiness as she looks in the mirror, she knows it's the one. This fantasy scenario, one that actually happens to a lot of people (Hi Steph!), did not happen to me. I was not blessed with this clarity, with this magical experience. Dress shopping was a process for me, but I wouldn't have had it any other way.
I guess it makes sense that I didn't emerge from a dressing room bathed in heavenly light and know the dress was "the one." That certainly didn't happen when I was searching for the much more important "one," Mike. On the surface, our story sounds fairy-tale happy. Boy meets girl during girl's second week of high school. Boy turns to best friend, says, "I'm going to marry that girl." Fast forward 13 years. Boy and girl marry.
The reality of our relationship is far from what it appears on the surface. Over the 12 years that we have known each other, I never had a flash of clarity, the sudden realization that Mike was "the one." And other than that first moment that he saw me (true story), I doubt Mike has either.
That's not to say I don't desperately, completely, deeply, madly love Mike. I long to spend the rest of my life with him. I am so excited to grow old with him, to have children and a family with him. I am so thrilled to be marrying him.
To get to this point, to get to the I Do's, has taken a lot of WORK. It's been a process. And I wouldn't have had it any other way. Over the past twelve years we've dated, broken up 5 (maybe 6) times, dated other people, moved into 3 houses, out of 2 (and not always at the same time). We've said hurtful, awful things to each other. We've cried.
We've also fell more deeply in love than we ever could have imagined. We've learned, grown into adults, become the type of people who can be there for another person wholly and completely without losing themselves. We've bought a house and adopted four cats, and developed a family of friends that will be with us for the rest of our lives.
This process of learning, growing, loving has taken twelve years. And I don't think we'll ever finish. For us, or I suppose I can just say for me, love is not a stagnant thing, something that happens instantly and then exists in perpetuity. Love is a living, changing thing that has to be nurtured the same way as any other living thing. Work is needed to keep it alive and growing, and I'm excited to get my hands dirty!
So now that I've babbled on, I'll get back to what I was talking about.... dress shopping! Amazing how I can make a post about picking out a wedding dress this long without even mentioning anything about actually GOING dress shopping...
I guess what I'm saying is that even though I didn't have that moment of "OMG this is the one," I'm completely thrilled to have picked my wedding dress this past weekend. And just like with everything else, it took work. Over the past month, my wonderful bridesmaids, my mother and my future mother in law accompanied me to three different bridal shops across New Hampshire. I tried on all SORTS of dresses, some of which I liked, others that I really loathed. In the end, at each place I found two that I really liked. Going into this weekend, I was down to my top three choices.
I thought I had a front runner in mind when we started, but I wanted to make sure I didn't just have a proximity crush on it because it was the last dress I tried on. But sure enough, after slipping into all three, I was completely confident I found my dress. And when I put it on, a huge smile burst onto my face. No heavenly light, but confidence that I'd found exactly what I was looking for.
Kinda like the wonderful man who will be by my side when I'm finally wearing it.