17 Years of Cold Feet

Fresh original sketch for my fresh blog post ;)

White vines entwined her neck, making it hard to swallow. Yards of tulle and silk wrapped her legs, immobilized them. She could barely breathe. And all she wanted to do, deep down, instinctually, was RUN.

Is this really what I’m supposed to think on the day of my wedding? Is this a sign, a red flag that we aren’t meant to be together? She looked in the full length mirror of her bridal suite, and sighed. I look like my mother, she thought. I look like a girly girl. I look….unrecognizable. She worried about losing herself to this marriage, losing her personality and becoming a slave, a zombie, a…housewife. The bride shuddered. It went against her entire self-image for the past 28 years. Hell, the bride never thought she’d live past 25, and took all the drugs she could to ensure of that.
And yet here she was, 30 minutes before her wedding….about to walk down the aisle and commit herself (which is crazy considering she could never even commit to a tattoo design) to a man who was….stable. Never partied in college. Has a financial job. He represented everything she rallied against just 10 years ago.

There was a knock on the door. No wait, it was the window. The bride struggled to pull up her 15lb skirt, tripped and nearly tore it. There was now a black streak on the hem, but she didn’t notice nor care. Two unfamiliarly lacey arms stretched out infront of her, and without much conscious thought, she threw open the window, slamming it upwards on its track. And there he was, her friend of the past 15 years, the man who had seen her at her worst…the man who held her hair when she threw up, who raced his motorcycle right by hers in the best memories of her life, the man who was everything Mike the Groom was not. With no hesitation, without feeling the white lacy vines strangle her throat as she swallowed, the Bride could say it comfortably. Casey was her best friend.

Casey stretched out his hand.

Casey was her salvation.

“This isn’t you,” he said. Everyone else gawked and cried and said things like “you look beautiful”, “you look like a princess”, but he said exactly what she was thinking. “You look like a princess,” he said, with a snarl and a scoff. “Come with us. The van’s parked right out here. We’ll take you away, far away from this.”

Her tunnel vision broke, and she noticed the other voices coming from behind him. All her friends, they spilled out from the side of a junky van, calling and beckoning to her. It would be so easy to just jump out the window and run. Throw off the hideous white gown. Leave behind this adult, mature life she was marrying in to.

But then, a thought occurred to her. What if this is “cold feet”, as they say? What if this is natural, this is what EVERY bride in history felt before walking down the aisle? They had spent so much money, spared no expense. At first, she demanded Mike buy her things she didn’t even want for the wedding, just to test him…just to make him feel fed up and maybe he’d call it all off himself. But here they were, at someone’s dream wedding, the kind a normal little girl would see in a magazine and envy for the rest of her days. Her family, many of whom had scattered to the wind since she was 8, was here. They were all here, all together, sitting and waiting eagerly to watch their youngest daughter hit this milestone in her life. This was what her cousin, her de facto mother, had wanted for her – a normal life. Her father flew from the opposite side of the world to be here, to see her.

One step out the window, and she would disappoint them all yet again. It would be worse than all the arrests of her teenage years, and all the times they had come to see her at the hospital after a (mild, in her thinking) overdose. This could, this would, wreck any chance of a family connection she could have.

Casey stood there, his hand still outstretched, ready to pull her and that hideous dress through to freedom. The faces of her friends screamed at her, beckoning, begging.

The Bride tilted her head up just slightly, took a deep breathe and didn’t exhale. “I love you guys,” she squeaked, tears threatening to spill over her cheeks. She tilted her head just slightly higher. “But I have a date with my future husband.”

Casey didn’t move, even when she tried to close the window. He made no expression, he had no words, for the very first time in his young life.

The Bride turned her back to her only escape. She fluffed her dress, straightened her veil, wiped a finger under each eye.

And then she got married to the man of someone else’s dreams.

Part of her knew it was a mistake. She told herself it was just cold feet, but even before the engagement ring was on her finger, she had her doubts. The thing is, who didn’t? The first time they moved in together, they had a small apartment in the heart of the City. And it was barely tolerable. Thing is, she had never really lived with just one other person in her entire life; even as a kid, there was always at least 5 other family members running around, slamming doors and screaming. Maybe it was just her, she thought at the time. Maybe it’s normal to need several layers of rooms and walls between you and your roommate, to feel sane and unaggravated. Instead of dealing with why they couldn’t coexist in the same or adjacent rooms happily, they simply got a new and much larger home. Mike could afford it, after all. And now that they were married, she could afford it too.

Two kids and a dog later, 16 years after her marriage, Jessica found herself looking back at her old wedding photo. She held a bouquet in her hands, her pitch-black hair was pinned up, white veil pouring down over her shoulders. And then there was her smile, or more like a grimace. She was a frightened animal showing her teeth, feeling cornered. And 16 years later, she felt even more cornered. Jessica stared at the day she ruined her life, and cried.

Once her emotions were spent, Jessica found herself able to think logically. Coldly, one might even say. She came up with a strategy. She wasn’t that bad looking. Hell, when she reposted her old wedding photo on Facebook earlier today, dozens of her friends commented that she barely aged at all. She was in her early 40s and had kept herself trim; Jessica was one of the lucky women who worked her body like hell after her two pregnancies and managed to get back in to her high school jeans….the dream goal of every woman over age 20. So what if she ruined the past 16 years of her life. So what if her kids are a disappointment, if her kids are assholes, if her dog is a piece of hyperactive shit that doesn’t even respond to a shock collar. 40 is almost the middle of her life. 40, she never thought she’d make it. But the human life expectancy leaves her with another 40 years at least, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to waste any more time with Mike, who just never understood her.

Jessica put her strategy to work. She tackled the issues holding her back…using Mike’s money to pay for driving lessons and eventually getting her license. She cried to her friends that this was freedom, that she could finally drive the hell away from her housewife life. She was free to go anywhere in North America. She entered grad school, claiming it was time to go back to work, now that the kids were teens and didn’t need constant supervision. She claimed the new training would help her help and understand her eldest son more, who was somewhere on the spectrum that made the first few years of his life her own living hell. It was just enough of a self-less thing that she could feel okay doing this selfish thing. She bought vintage motorcycles and hid them from her husband, her way of reliving days past. The housewife bought a condo in a state 500 miles away, attended a school 500 miles away from her children, and flew back once a month for a weekend. Jessica gave herself a means to escape and the ability to sustain herself on Mike’s dime, after “wasting” her life for the past 16 years.

And then, once graduation was in sight….she filed for divorce. And she was not ever going to return to her old home, except to sign some papers. Her kids came to visit now and then, and the dog, well, good riddance. That dog was nothing, absolutely nothing compared to the genius of the same breed she grew up with, who could understand human commands instantly and calmly, as she bragged online to friends.

*********

This a true story, though of course dramatized since I was not actually present in most of Jessica’s life. But it’s things I’ve heard from herself, things I’ve gathered from her husband, and from her social media. I don’t know what to think about this woman. She’s a huge disaster. I saw her husband the other day, which is when he told me about his impending divorce, and I feel a bit of regret not telling him that…as a child of divorce….this could be the single best thing that happened to him in the past 17 years. That now he can finally be happy without that negative deadweight. It’s weird. When I first met Jessica, she seemed like a cool lady; she seemed “real”, unlike many of the rich housewives here. But she was really just a lost soul, lost since she was born and came in to this world, a person who could only see the downsides to heaven. The more time I spent with her, the more I wondered how her husband or any of her friends could put up with it for more than an hour. Her logic wasn’t sound, the way she thought was bizarre, and she was so miserably unhappy. The more I got to know her, the more I realized Jessica wasn’t a cool lady, she was a selfish asshole who hated her kids, her dog, her entire life and what she has “become”, and blamed it all on Mike.

On the other hand. It’s quite smart of her to use Mike’s money to get on her feet before divorcing. To get herself a place to live, a job to keep her sustained. It’s really pretty smart of her. But also really…unethical. Devious. Not illegal, but very…I don’t know. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Creative [non-fic] writing isn’t really my thing, but after thinking about their situation for a while, I just had to get this out.  I do think this was a long time coming, and I’m actually….happy for both of them to be divorcing.  I don’t know Mike well, I don’t know if he’s truly as bad as she claims (which didn’t sound that bad when she complained), but they were very clearly unhappy together…and I think that affects the kids way more than a divorce does.

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One thought on “17 Years of Cold Feet

  1. It is amazing how the tip of the ice burg shows nothing but the more you see below people have a totally different picture. But sometimes people also want to judge you how you were previously and won’t let you change out of it or you just forever one type of person with no sights to ever change. She seems like she was someone with no ambition and getting married was like the only thing to do at the time and now she did waste many years but what else with someone with no ambition is suppose to do?

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