Sunday, January 07, 2007

Happily Ever After

Our little cul-de-sac hosted a first this weekend: a backyard wedding. My neighbors’ only child, a 30-something daughter, married for the second time.

S moved back home with her daughter some time back, probably ten years ago. She had reason enough to be disillusioned with her first marriage. She had married a college student being put through school by his parents, and the BA was followed by an MA, but once the young man was finished with school, he proved to be downright allergic to employment. I get the impression that to this day he is seriously underemployed, subsidized by his wealthy parents. Anyway, S was frustrated with her husband’s unwillingness “to be a man” and provide for his family (although I saw it as an unwillingness to be an adult…). So the marriage ended. After a while, S took a job out of town and took a boyfriend with her but stayed gone less than two years. Then back home with mom & dad.

Over the years, S shared some of the details of her love life with me, reinforcing my notion that All By Myself is indeed the best plan for me. The relationship with the one-time live-in boyfriend continued, but he issued an ultimatum: S’s daughter or him. I shuddered from afar when, after she chose her daughter, he softened his hard line and she “took him back.” Several times. Eventually, not without a lot of counseling from my Tall Son, she was able to break her addiction to this scoundrel…who also seemed to have a work allergy, by the way. But then she was lonely.

Within weeks of dumping Mr. Ultimatum for the last time, she agreed to start dating a co-worker who’d apparently had a crush on her for some time, a co-worker about my age, and therefore more than 15 years older than she. She didn’t say directly that she was with him to assuage the loneliness, but I only had to listen to the melody between her lines to recognize that tune. When she became engaged to him after a very short time, I was alarmed. But time passed with no date set, and on Thanksgiving 2005 she sighed that B, who wasn’t at the dinner, was “boring.” A few weeks later she told me that the engagement to B was over and she was going to try celibacy (yes, she used that word) for a while.

My life got busy, and I really didn’t talk much to S or her parents during 2006. I hadn't noticed that she had moved out...or some other interesting developments. Imagine, then, my surprise just before Christmas to be invited to her January wedding…to be followed by a February baby.

The wedding was charming… simple but festive and romantic. As she sat beside me with her feet up to ease her swollen ankles, S told me that she finally felt “complete.”

Maybe it’s because I’m too old to be awash with hormones or illusions, but I’m a little worried about S, new hubby, and baby. The newlyweds have known each other only a year, and during half of that he was off with the military. But…while most people were doing other things, the couple danced in a corner, and as I watched them gazing into each other’s eyes, it was easy to believe for a few minutes that people live happily ever after. Maybe they will.

I just wish that more women could feel that happily ever after was also possible without a man.

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