It is that time of the year again, when week days of blistering sunshine are capped
with a weekend of damp drizzle as white ribbon decked cars glide through glistening
English roads and streets. If your lucky the roads will be doused in brilliant light
with heat shimmering in every corner.
It is a picture. The family, the bride, white dress and veil. Make up is trusted to
someone known just for hours. Friends circle in appreciation, mother hovers like the
bee over a rose. This is her greatest day, the fairy story of her childhood dreams
played out in life, ceremoniously clothed for her great tithing to the man of her
dreams! This ceremony passes the daughter from parents into the hands of this man for
her life. This marriage will be the ultimate bond, the ultimate that defines
commitment in your perfect relationship. True love.
The preparation, the hair, the make-up. The pride in being walked up the aisle by the
father, or the sadness that he could not, the sentimental replacement. Months of
planning, of eating sparse salad, weight watchers, scouring magazines for tips on
thinner thighs, for dresses and make up. Endless trips to the gym and each morning
your one to one with the mirror. Today is your day!
For his part he is decked out in the finest your expectations could squeeze him into.
As you complete the finishing touches to your hair and veil, he sits around a table
looking splendid, surrounded by like males sinking one or two for the nerves. For he
the ritual is about meeting a women's expectations, her dreams.
The ceremony is perfunctory, reciting either passages from a book nobody reads or
quoting legal statements. Soon it is over!
These moments are now history. Gone is the timed delay before she emerges like a
ghost, the nerves, the resonance of the music, the mistaken repetition or words, the
symbolic exchange of the rings.
Soon your grinning inanely at all that will behold, and they are all here for you.
Your standing on lush green, surrounded by glamorous people and applauded by leaves
on gently swaying oak. Small children chased by their mothers tongues run through
carefully framed pictures, everyone has a camera, your a star for the day.
The day progresses, pictures, food, speeches, laughter and more people. A perfect day
ended in a blur, of dancing, strobe lights and tables around a wooden floor.
Sometimes there is good music, boys are being boys and girls looking on, talking
amongst themselves, dancing. Young girls sit awkwardly between bouts of display. They
consume all with wide eyes, they dream. She looks on at them, she is there, has
As the clock strikes midnight she reluctantly wriggles free of the dress and
carefully lays it over a high backed chair. Tomorrow it will be packed in a box. In
this it will remain for the duration of the union and probably beyond. Over time she
will entertain the idea of reliving the feel of this material on her skin, she never
will. Her mind tells her it would never fit, least she blemish the perfect memory.
The honeymoon is an extension of this perfect day, sun blessed beaches, turquoise sea
and brilliant white grins surrounded by sweet bony faces of dark skin. You could
probably not deny them this happiness, of these days.
You meticulously tidy the left over's of your perfect day, savouring each task,
saying goodbye is not easy. A few weeks ago your life was full of importance,
planning. Now these moments are part of your history, part of what you are and not
what will be. A great void remains that nags at you with every carefully crafted
'thank you'. At first it formulates as an insurrection of your conscious that you
immediately suppress, this spindly little thought is no match for your love and
devotion. Its not that this thought will grow stronger than your love, but something
else in your mind is shifting, like the languid genesis of an avalanche. You might
believe in true love, utterly in marriage and in your 'man', but eventually there is
no denying; 'is this it?'
In the beginning engagement was your commitment, the moment you decided, 'we are
one'. The ring, sparkling and white, the biggest you could afford is an object
constructed of thinly layered gold and a common rock of this earth. For each of you
this object has a different symbolism. Her social obligation from childhood has been
to the fairy tale, marriage and children. This ring signifies to all that she is
almost there, as she has been led to desire. He sees it as a symbolic lock of
chastity warding off other predators, 'she is taken!'
Bonded and protected in this way, you have together enjoyed the pleasures western
culture can offer educated people. Within a few years you have traveled and seen more
of this earth than Captain Cook. You have soaked up the sun on brilliant beaches,
walked the ancient cities, snorkeled in aqua seas, climbed high above the skyline on
the other side of this earth. You have lived this young life, marriage is the last
great frontier, your social destiny.
For 18 months you wrap yourself in the easy embrace of organisation, food, guests,
location, honeymoon, music, the dance, the dress, the suits. All your energies on
this one day. The light illuminating from the sparkling diamond on your left hand
makes you smile each and every time, this wonderful love.
If you had been a little more careful you would have noticed that the emotional
commitment and what connected both of you, that almost telepathic connection you had
at the outset has lost its way. Its not that you really love each other less, but you
have forgotten what it is to enjoy each other. Now it is easier to submerge yourself
in the mechanism of planning than it is to talk about anything else.
Do you remember when just sitting in the car together was the greatest feeling, your
hand rested on each others thigh. How holding hands in the cinema was something you
looked forward to all day. Eating a meal and catching up on all the interesting
minutiae was your favourite conversation of the day, long evenings alone, crammed
full of laughter and talk.
Now meal events are accompanied by sheets of paper, choices, flower types, listening
to band demo's, locations, endless pictures of identical golden beeches. Sitting in
the car is a rushed journey at the end of a long day meeting some stranger with a
service to offer, or to review some venue, try wine, food, do the numbers. What used
to be glorious sex savoured over hours into the night or random but breathless
moments during the day is now a concession you allow on Saturday mornings, before the
busy schedule. It is no longer about the two of you and the enjoyment of together,
now it is about everything other than this.
Before you realise it the perfect day has past. Tangible proof is the extra ring and
some fleeting memories, save of course for the DVD and photo box set.
As you constantly reminded anyone before the perfect day, marriage is something
magical. It is the ultimate symbol of the love between two people. Your love is what
joins you, your marriage bonds you, this ring that you turn on your finger is a
symbol, not just to you but to any one that takes in the picture that is you. It
says; 'I am in love, I am married, I belong to someone!' We are one.
What was once beautiful in your relationship, an emotional commitment to each other
is now defined by marriage. Your whole energies are not focused on the two people,
what was beautiful, that which you cherished in each other, the emotion. This is but
some flicker of the heart or vision of the past that teases at the far reaches of
your mind. Your commitment is now the legal agreement called marriage and your told
it must last for the rest of your life. This life that now seems all just a little
Your trapped. You have been caught by the second oldest mechanism for social control
devised by mankind, the first is the religion that spawned it. Only now it is an
artifact from a time gone by that has mutated into something ghastly, the ultimate
rush, the greatest thrill, your moment in the spotlight. The perfect day.
Now meal times are spent desperately chewing and dredging your mind for some
conversation but none come to mind, car journeys are rarely anything but alone and
socially, the first thought is not where will we go, but who will we go with?
Your in a void, caught with your moral obligation to marriage and unable to kindle
those emotions because of the oppressive blanket of this thing called marriage. It
closes around you, its nausea's. You have decisions to make. You will probably plough
on because peer pressure dictates you are a failure if you don't. Your options are
stark. You can lose yourselves in some diversion, some nucleus supplemented by
children, maybe you first find a new house to immerse energies. Either way you can
return to the comfort of meals with brochures and scattered sheets of paper and
books. Your attention once more embraced within the semantics of a third party, you
hope each other cannot see the child behind your adult eyes.
Your chances of success are slim, the statistics tell us. What can you do? Surrounded
by humans that have equally been brainwashed, probably about to make the same
mistakes, empowered with the same lifelong programming, no matter the cultural
origins. If you go your separate ways you will be reminding them of their own
frailties, you will be feared, judged and explained away, held at arms length like an
contagious rag! Marriage is binding, its until you die! You can almost here the cell
There is a hope though, to discard the rings as if loosing your chains and raise two
fingers at the expectations of society, of peers. It is about the emotion, of
commitment between two, freely given of your concious, not of some obligation. You
are not 'one' you are two, two objects that choose to circle each other, each with
beating hearts and a singular identity; you. Your minds are your own, your time
together is of interest, of laughter, friendship, maybe love but that is not the all!
You enjoy being your own, together. You can do this.
Some chance then to salvage this emotion and discover what you lost, but probably if
your here its to late.
Maybe next time.
Submission: 4 August 2006