So wedding stuff makes me grumpy. Just a bit.
Don't get me wrong. My own wedding is something I'm excited for. I'm going to get an awesome dress and a great cake and eat good food and marry the man I love. Sweet.
Hmm. Maybe I'm not talking about wedding stuff. Maybe I'm talking about marriage stuff. It's more important. The heart has to be ready, and that really has nothing at all to do with contracts or gum paste flowers or the lighting effects on the dance floor. That fact is pretty obvious, right? So let me back up and explain myself.
My fiance and I have been together for over five years. A good portion of that has consisted of a long-distance relationship. I live in North Carolina, he lives in Missouri. We have long visits. My dog loves him (and that's amazing.) Together, we've made a relationship that has had a lot of love and a few fights. We know we have quirks, because we've seen them up close. We also know that everything's gonna get really real at about 2:00 A.M. sometime in the future when one of us gets a wake-up call via the "icy foot zap." So yeah, I know relationships take work. Five years, remember?
Obviously, being a (reluctant) Twentysomething, I've had a few friends get engaged and married over the years. Yeah, I've only been engaged since January, but that sorta just made it official. I've always sort of known. My man's still in school and I'm paying for the wedding myself. Yeah, it's gonna be a minute. When I see my all friends getting speedily engaged and hitched like little matrimony moon rockets, I cringe a little.
'Cause I know and fear what's coming next.
The SAGELY SAGE ADVICE.
Okay, to be fair, only one person has actually offered THE ADVICE and that was quite some time ago. This individual had known the intended spouse for a few years, they dated for a short while (like very very very very very short) got engaged in the spring of 2010, and were married by the end of summer 2010. A few months later, after I posted my engagement announcement on Facebook, this person ADVISED me that marriage was hard work, but worth it.
For me, that was the equivalent of someone informing me in a condescending tone that the invasion of Normandy occurred on June 6th, 1944. But imagine that the teacher or whoever was sharing this advice because I'd shared with them my intention to write my dissertation in pursuit of a doctorate, the subject of said project being the strategies and movements of the U.S. Airborne units during Operation Neptune and an exploration into the assault on Brecourt Manor. At this point, I think it would be pretty clear that I know what I'm talking about and have known for quite some time. Imagine the person with the condescending attitude having just watched the first scene of Saving Private Ryan like five minutes before and that being the first time they'd ever heard of the invasion of Normandy, let alone Operation Neptune or Operation Overlord.
That's sorta what it felt like.
And while that individual has been the only one to offer SAGELY SAGE ADVICE, I still have this reflex of...something, every time. There is joy for my friends, because finding the one person who is literally your other half is awesome. What I don't welcome is the advice that has the possibility of coming.
If you've just seen a clip of a film that features a few bloody minutes on one beach in Normandy, and that's all you know, as much as it has touched you and changed you, you cannot give me a full-on lecture about leg bags and the problems therewith. You can't tell me merely about the existence of Operation Market-Garden. I already know, and I've known a lot longer than you.
I don't hate advice, and I don't hate learning. Most people are like that. Because of the time I've invested in a long-distance relationship, just as if I'd dedicated my life to studying the details in World War II, I know stuff that others don't yet. I know what it's like to be hurt. I know what it's like to argue. Heck, I know how to fight dirty. But I also know how to love, how to forgive, and how to savor moments, even when the theater's heater is broken and it's 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside and somewhere in the 50-60 range inside.
This doesn't make me any better than the ADVICE offerer I mentioned earlier. But I do have the distinct advantage of time and patience and sadness and fights and near-breakups and forgiveness and love and joy and laughter.
In a word, life.
A better teacher by far than all the ADVICE I could ever get.