My sister got married in May of 2021, during an exhilarating time when most people recently became vaccinated for COVID-19 and began crawling out of their shells. People were ready to attend a wedding and have a great time. We all wanted the day to be perfect for my sister, an angel baby of wonder and beauty, who deserved the best day ever.
The bridal party got ready at my parents’ house, and everybody appreciated how relaxed it was. I did Kayla’s makeup in the bathroom, where I spent every morning obsessing over my appearance for fifteen years. My mom laid out a spread of sandwiches and pasta salads on the coffee table purchased years ago. Dad and I spied on the couple’s first look from the bedroom window, gazing out into the greenery and marsh of the backyard. It all felt so familiar, and yet there was a buzziness surrounding every aspect of the morning. Our song for today, written nearly two hundred years ago, captures that same anticipatory emotional state.
When I look back on my sister’s wedding day, I think about everyone in the bridal party sitting cross-legged in our sweatpants on the living room floor, eating lunch, and cracking jokes like it was a typical day. We excitedly awaited my brother-in-law’s arrival, enjoyed the casual, candid photos, and fastened all of the buttons, of which there were many, on my sister’s beautiful ballgown-style wedding dress. That was probably my favorite part of the entire day– when I felt my sister’s unusually expectant energy resonate through such a familiar space. She was all smiles, a little ball of happiness. The house was electric.
It seems like the excitement of such a momentous occasion hasn’t changed much since 1840, but there’s one significant emotion missing from most American weddings today: dread. Listen, if you feel differently, let me know; I’ve never been married. Our Frauenbild is saying goodbye to female company as she enters a life of servitude to her husband and children. Bye sisters! Bye friends! What a bummer. Let’s experience this whirlwind of a piece together, shall we?
My sister wasn’t weighed down by a feeling of existential dread on her wedding day because she wasn’t shifting her relationships– I think we can all happily agree that marriage no longer means cloistering oneself away from friends and family. However, it does seem that connections outside of immediate family still tend to weaken over time. Maybe for modern folks, the life change of marriage isn’t what makes adult friendships so tricky to maintain, but rather the pull of so many responsibilities in a thousand different directions. We’re all incredibly busy people, and we can only allocate so much attention to each facet of our lives. Friendships often suffer first and worst in our hectic lives, which is a mistake. I am a massive advocate for prioritizing non-romantic relationships for personal well-being.
It’s Friendsgiving season. For anyone reading over the age of thirty-five, Friendsgiving is a Thanksgiving celebrated with friends as opposed to family, often held the weekend before the traditional holiday but sometimes in place of festivities with family at all. Little pumpkins and an orange plaid runner decorate my table, and I even have festive rings hugging the cloth napkins I purchased. I mean business. The guests in question this evening are friends I’ve had since childhood, people who know my innermost thoughts and my most embarrassing moments. They have seen me throw tantrums over my hair and laugh at inopportune moments. I’ve been looking forward to hosting them for a couple of weeks now because spending time in their company genuinely makes me feel whole. Friends outside of the partnership of a romantic relationship are imperative to my happiness, and you need them, too. So does our Frauenbild.
I don’t have much to say about feminism today (a supreme shock, I’m sure), and maybe it’s the season, but what I’d like to allow us to reflect on today are relationships. The people closest to us make our lives worthwhile, enable enjoyment, and restore our spirits. I think that’s part of the reason I look back on the morning of my sister’s wedding day with such joy– I could feel the positive energy emanating from some of the people I love the most.
We have these little computers in our hands that connect us to anyone in the world, yet many of us feel increasingly disconnected. Take this opportunity to text or call a friend, see how they’re doing, and ask about their day. They want to hear from you. I need to do this too. We may not have worriedly said goodbye to all of our friends on our wedding day like our Frauenbild, but we still let relationships fade slowly by the day, week, and year when we don’t prioritize the connections that enrich our lives so profoundly.
I yawn in my childhood bed, sleepily blinking my eyes awake to the view of old photos on the wall. My sister is wide awake, atypical for her night owl self. We’re opposites in that way.
“Today’s the day!” I shout in a sing-songy voice, quoting Finding Nemo. “The sun is shining; the tank is clean!” We’ve laughed through this quote on monumental days for as long as I can remember.
We make our way to the bathroom, and I notice a tight, 1980s curling iron stuffed away in a drawer under the makeup I’ll be using today. I cringe and remember the time I tried curling my hair in 8th grade, and it was a total disaster. I threw a tantrum and was late for school. I sigh and move past the unpleasant thought– there will only be happy tears today.
I spot some old hot rollers tucked away next to the useless curling iron and recall carefully rolling up my sister’s hair for Rock ’n’ Roll Revival–a much more successful bathroom adventure. That’s the energy we’ll channel.
I stop cracking jokes, so I don’t smear the makeup on her smooth, glowing face. She looks beautiful. Her bridal party arrives throughout the morning, each member cooing over her appearance and filling the room with joy.
I run out of good hair day luck and struggle with my own. It’s the 8th-grade catastrophe all over again. One fake eyelash falls like a black spider into the sink, and I kiss that idea goodbye. Who needs falsies, anyway? The sound of excited chatter and laughter fills the house. It’s ok if my curls don’t fall in my face quite right and my eyelashes come unglued; today isn’t about me.
We throw the dress over her head. Poof! A quote from Anastasia, another childhood favorite, pops into my brain. “The Russian circus– I think it’s still in here!” I meticulously begin fastening every button, step by step. Everyone is watching; the photographer snaps a photo.
She looks perfect. No dread, no second thoughts. Only joy, surrounded by her best friends and family for life.