Ordinarily, I like to keep a well-ordered mind and a well-ordered home. (And a well-ordered blog.) But my mind is far from well-ordered right now -- it's a big mess of wedding-related minutiae and deadlines, with Christmas gift ideas and other errands scattered about. My home is a literal mess composed along those same lines -- and the fiance's apartment, wedding-planning central, is even worse. With just a month to go, I'm in triage mode -- if it's not related to the wedding, or marriage, or Christmas, I can't afford to spend time thinking about it. Creative impulses must be denied! Professional ambitions must be ignored! Friendships will have to wait! I'll have plenty of time to patronize the arts after I'm married! I can be prayerful and reflective some other Advent! Lunchtime? But I just ate four hours ago! I was actually relieved when the stagehands and the SAG went on strike, because who has the time to keep up with Broadway openings, or favorite television shows? And I let my subscription to The New Yorker lapse, because I don't have time to read it anyway, and it seemed easier to just resubscribe after the honeymoon, once I've moved, rather than changing the address now. I have no room for clutter in my brain. I find myself reacting to everyday irritations -- finicky wireless connections, obnoxious holiday music, the woman who held me up this morning by stopping dead in the subway turnstile to go through her purse and get out her Metrocard, and then stopping dead again, on the steps down to the train, to put her card back in her purse -- as though they were major disasters, because weeks of stress have entirely worn away my already thin layer of patience, leaving all my nerves exposed.
If I had time for reflection, I might wonder: Is coping with all this craziness the essence of what it means to be a "bride"? Or am I experiencing the friction produced by straining against the forces that would make me into a "bride"? Every time I turn on the TV -- which I do now and then to keep me company while I'm writing thank-you notes, working on table numbers, breaking down boxes, shopping online -- there are a host of wedding-related programs to choose from. Stuff like I Propose, Whose Wedding Is It, Anyway? and Bridezillas. The other night, getting ready for bed, I watched about 40 minutes of the '90s remake of Father of the Bride, and I couldn't decide whether I found it relaxing or stress-enhancing. I was just numb. I do know that the title character I most identified with was the father, not the bride. She has it easy. He does all the work. The scene where Steve Martin has a breakdown in the supermarket and starts tearing open packages of hot-dog buns? I watched it and nodded, thinking, That could be me.
I never identify with the brides on those reality shows, probably because the kind of woman who would invite a reality TV crew to follow her around as she plans her wedding is not the sort of woman I would want to talk to, let alone be. (Those bridal reality shows are among the least entertaining reality shows I've ever watched five minutes of, by the way, and I have to assume they'd be even less entertaining to anyone not currently planning a wedding. Don't waste your time.) When I fell in love with the man who is now my fiance, not a single part of me was dreaming of spending almost an entire year planning and preparing for our wedding. And when it came time to actually take on the task, I did my best to avoid all the unnecessary expenses and distractions and frills, the "bridal" stuff that didn't seem to have anything to do with me, or us. But it's crazy anyway, and it took a long time anyway, and now I'm slightly in awe of the women who manage to fit in all that extra stuff. How do they do it? How do they find time for it, how do they pay for it, how do they fit it into their overtaxed brains without completely falling apart?
People keep telling me this is supposed to be fun. Maybe someday I will look back on this time with fondness, but right now I'm just hoping to get through it. Today I am back at work in an office, sitting at someone else's desk (which is a sort of metaphor for my situation in general), and next to me is a review copy of a book called His Cold Feet, "a guide for the woman who wants to tie the knot with the guy who wants to talk about it later." This made me laugh, because one problem I don't have to deal with is cold feet, on his part or mine. Our feet are so warm we have to wear sandals. Let's get this over with, already!
Once in a while, I come up for air and notice how much we've accomplished: I may not be keeping up with my blog (or my laundry), but we've obtained our marriage license, purchased our rings, booked our transportation, approved our decorations, given instructions to the musicians... We're keeping track of response cards and sending out thank-yous with reasonable promptness. I'm proud of us whenever we check something off the list, and I am excited about our plans; it's all looking great. But it's the rare non-wedding-related activities that I really treasure, because they actually have something to do with me -- not Mollie the "bride," but Mollie, the young lady who has many other interests, and whose brain is capable of focusing on many other things if permitted. Tonight I'm giving a presentation to our RCIA group. Tomorrow I'm going to see a play -- it's been so long! And best of all, after class tonight, the fiance and I are going out on a date, just like we used to before we were caught in the pre-wedding whirlwind. The priest we met with last week at my hometown parish (where the wedding will be) ended our meeting by instructing us to do exactly this. I think it was excellent advice: These days we're so focused on using the time we have together to discuss wedding details, we could easily forget why we're planning all this in the first place. And we picked tonight because it happens to be our first-date-iversary. Two years ago on this very day, we met for coffee on a Sunday afternoon, and we've basically been together ever since. We're going back to that same spot tonight -- tomorrow, the 12th, begins the one-month countdown to the wedding, but tonight we focus on enjoying each other's company. I just hope nobody gets in my way on the subway while I'm in transit, because I don't know how much more I can take.