It’s wedding season and the vacant, unchecked, Papyrus +1 box on the embossed invitation stares at me patronizingly. I avoid the awkward silence between us, between the unchecked +1 and I, by internalizing a rant about people who use the font Papyrus for anything.
It might as well be Comic Sans or Wingdings.
Look, we’re getting married! The theme is late 90s tacky! There’s going to be a reading from 1 Corinthians 13:4-13!
I have lived an exciting life, but the bravest thing I perhaps have ever done was only eight months ago.
One Wednesday afternoon, I cut class and drove to the most popular movie theater in town, bought a ticket to see The Help, and for the first time in my life watched a movie in a theater by myself.
Remarkably, I didn’t die from embarrassment. I and the moms with kids in tow and the husband taking the day off survived the movie together, even though there was no one to my left or right.
This was my choice, all of this. Kate and I had a year and a half together, Serena and I off and on for a near year here, a month there. Then came the feeling from the Holy Spirit: wait. This year, wait. Don’t date. Wait.
And I waited. Sitting in the midst of watching The Help, alone, I waited.
We’re lying on my floor, looking up at the ceiling, my best friend and I, the day before my thesis defense.
I ugly cry for a good half hour, about being nervous and exhausted, about it being close to the end of the term and that everyone is being left behind. I ugly cry, really, because I’m alone.
I accuse him, not too subtly, of having a beautiful and wonderful girlfriend. Someone he gets to share with. Someone he gets to be with. He has someone to ugly cry with that he can also turn to for physical comfort. (Perhaps how I phrased that was slightly more direct, but you get the idea.)
“Yes.” He said simply and without looking I knew he was smiling soberly. “But you chose that, didn’t you? You said that you felt like this year, after everything with Serena, you needed to not date.”
Me and my words. They always come around and find me at the worst time. “Yes. I did say that.”
He’s right and I know it. I had heard, in the quiet place of self, that I was supposed to wait. And I had. I had waited; but, when the major life event rolled around, the felt absence of another to share it with, fully, as fully as could be shared before vows are given, was almost too much to stomach.
“You could be dating right now,” he pushed, not too subtly. Then he pushed it a bit more. Said a bit more. Made me get the point. Yes, I was single, though not by repugnancy. I chose, was still choosing.
“I know,” I confess, half-hearted, because what I don’t say that he knows I’m thinking, that he’s been getting at, is that I really only want to be dating for just that particular moment. I had yet to come to the place of peace to want it beyond that day, that afternoon, that floor, and that ugly cry.
She calls me to talk about her guest post.
We work it through, then we’re on to the usual topics: 30 Rock, sleeping pills, and brownies. Then I’m talking about this girl, this girl that I have fallen for, a feeling that had been building for the past year but suddenly, only now, has come to surface.
She asks me how I know, because she knows me too well. Because she knows that if I talk it through, if it’s wrong, I’ll see the cracks for what they are.
“I spent this week figuring out one thing: was I in love with the story of us, the unique story we could have, or was I falling for her?” I paused for a moment, nearly asleep, the late night and the sleeping pill and all the brownie batter. “And I realized it’s pretty simple. I’m falling for her because she’s the kind of girl who lives this sort of story.”
She says it sounds right,
I find watermelon in my refrigerator, rejoice, and we start talking about how she really needs to be watching HBO’s Girls.
The unchecked +1 box and I enter a détente.
I check single and smile a bit. I am tempted, as I am always tempted, to justify myself. Single, by choice. But what does that matter? Between the Holy Ghost and I, between what may or may not happen with this girl I am falling for, between the conversations on my floor about being single and wanting someone for just that moment, there is too much grace and growth and being to fit onto an invitation written in Papyrus.
I say a blessing for the couple, the couple and their Papyrus invitations and their reading from 1 Corinthians. All is grace, even typeface.
Single, I check, then look up the show times, take in an afternoon movie, blissfully, trustingly, for now, alone.
Question: Have you ever been to a wedding, or a movie, without a +1? Will you share your story with us?