I turn 26 next month which is still safely in the “mid-twenties” bracket but definitely verging on the “late-twenties” bracket, which is veering dangerously close to wedding season.
First it’s the 21sts – footloose and fancy free, we celebrate becoming adults! Then just hang on for nine years until the next big birthday -- the 30ths.
But weddings are going to sneak in way before that. They’re already beginning to appear on Facebook as friends of friends attend friends’ weddings. While my closer circles of school and college friends have yet to beginning chiming bells, I can sense it is coming soon.
At dinner last weekend with a mix of guys and gals who have been friends for a solid silly decade, the topic inevitably came up again. Who will be first? And worse, who will be last?
One couple at the table have been together for nine years which seems to indicate an impending proposal, but they both vehemently denied any possibility of that happening in the immediate future. I’ll believe that when I see it.
As for the rest of us there was a mix of singletons, new relationships and couples in the three-five years region. Everyone joked about their marriage prospects, no one brave enough to admit whatever reality they genuinely suspect awaits them, but when the self-deprecation and general mockery died down the suggestion of who will actually be the first to marry was, to my horror, my ex.
A silence swiftly fell across the table before I joked, “Well, that’s one wedding I’ll definitely be getting an invitation to,” and everyone laughed generously so as to move on as quickly as humanly possible from the awkwardness of absolutely everything.
This “ex” and I have been off the cards for the guts of four years. He’s been with his alleged future wife for three and a half years and I with my wonderful man for three years.
We have both moved on in a very real way and there is no shadow of a doubt as to the longevity and permanence of our final breakup. However, the thought of him marrying – and marrying soon – caused my stomach to lurch in a particularly gross fashion.
This “ex” and I have almost nothing in common save our mutual friends and shared memories. If we met now we would never enter each other’s realms of interest (speaking mostly for myself here), and even now when we talk it is strained and weird and uncomfortable.
We had a long, complicated, messy relationship that was on and off repeatedly over the course of five years during which we managed to repeatedly hurt each other and a few other people on a fairly regular basis. We were young. It happens.
This “ex” and I will continue to live our own individual happy lives without each other and that’s all peaches and cream, and I’m not about to go all Adele on this and write three albums about it, but everyone does have that one ex whose wedding – albeit hypothetical for now – brings out a nasty side of you that makes you wonder/hope that they’ll screw it up at the alter with a Ross and Rachel moment and your suspicions that they never got over you will be validated! You may be thinking that this is selfish and cruel, and you’re right.
However, this “ex,” I recently discovered, has erased me from his life. If he were to flub the vows and say “I take thee Rachael” at the alter, this woman would have no idea who Rachael – me – is.
The man took it upon himself to not bother explaining who I am to his new girlfriend so as to avoid having to explain the complicated nature of his past – because what a bore that would be. Meanwhile, I had to explain who he is to my new boyfriend so as to give context to my multiple neurosis and crippling insecurities. The injustice!
As completely unhinged as it is to erase a partner from your history, I still can’t help but find it hurtful. Needless to say, I’m also quite jealous at his capacity to cruise through his current relationship without having to take any baggage or explain himself in any way, shape or form.
Is this something that is exclusively available to men? Are women more inclined or even required to explain our past relationships to new partners because otherwise our behavioral patterns will seem completely, categorically insane?
In truth, the reason I winced at the announcement of his hypothetical engagement is because of this erasure. For someone who played such an important part in my life, to begin their new life with their new wife and have a great big gaping hole in their history where I thought I had been a significant human being is strange, unnerving and ultimately quite sad.
But do I have a right to feel that way, or is it his prerogative to decide what details of his past are to be included in his future? How do you cope with being erased?
As wedding season appears on the horizon, I already have a solid game plan. One black dress which I will wear to every wedding. One stock gift which I will buy for every bride.
Only attend weddings in my direct proximity – no week-long money binges in Marbella or Miami. Minimal effort, minimal stress.
Weddings are joyous occasions, but I have been warned by my older cousins to beware of the expense and the fact that no one will give a flying fig what you’re wearing, so feel free to repeat wardrobe repertoire.
Weddings are joyous occasions, but I have to wonder about the mixed emotions that come with the wedding of an ex. Even when you have entirely moved on, even when he is no more than a part of your past, even when you are happier now than you ever were before – when you have been erased from someone else’s life, how does your happiness for them fit in?
As hilarious as my joke may have been, I reckon that is one wedding that I will not be invited to.
But if I am, how to RSVP? What is the etiquette for attending your ex-boyfriend’s wedding?