Faye searched high and low for a wedding dress. She skimmed through hundreds of magazines. She surfed online. She went to sample sales and department stores and tiny boutiques. She made trips back to Boston to dress shop with her mother, and her mother came to New York. And she did this all without my help, without my input, because we had decided to do the traditional “no peeking before the wedding” thing. As Faye walks towards me down the aisle, all dolled up in a fancy dress, I want to be surprised – to take it all in for the first time. So I can hold that image in my mind’s eye forever.
This was hard for us because, after living together for over a year, we seem to have forgotten how to make decisions on our own. We run even the simplest things by one another.
Me: Honey, how do you like the pattern on this roll of toilet paper?
Faye: It’s okay. Let’s go with it for now. Do you think I should wear these sweatpants to bed?
Me: Hmm. Might be too hot for those. I’ll think about it. In the meantime, do you think I should finish this handful of raisins?
(I might be exaggerating a tad. At least I hope I am exaggerating. I’ll have to ask Faye what she thinks.)
And then, one glorious day, Faye came running down the narrow hallway of our apartment building with a giant ivory garment bag slung over her shoulder. The bag fluttered and soared behind her as she ran towards me with a huge, almost manic smile on her face. The overall effect was that Faye had parachuted in from Ecstatic-ville. Or that she was running from the police after stealing her favorite float from Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
“I bought a dress!” She shouted gleefully. Her friend Patrick, who had been hidden behind the enormous bag, stepped forward and promised me (his eyes welled with tears) that she looked incredible in the dress. Faye had asked Patrick to meet her at a sample sale where she had fallen in love with the dress. She had to buy it before it was shipped back to Italy, but she was having trouble pulling the trigger because she knew she couldn’t return it once she bought it. When Patrick saw her in it, he gushed, took video on his phone for her to see, and gave her the thumbs-up. That, along with the still-widening smile on her face, convinced me that Faye had indeed found the right dress. The three of us hugged, like proud parents.
I hung the dress (in its giant bag) on the curtain rod of our bedroom. It was too tall for our small closet. In fact, the dress was now the largest thing in our apartment. It watched over us like a kindly ghost as Faye and I went to bed that night with visions of the perfect wedding in our heads.
At three in the morning, Faye woke me up.
Faye: I’ve made a terrible mistake.
Me: Gluberjsdjfp (this is how I talk at 3am)
Faye: I think I might hate the dress. What have I done? What have I done?!?!?!
It seemed that the dreaded creature know as “buyer’s remorse” had reared its ugly head. Nothing I could do would ease its cruel grip. The upset lasted for weeks. She remembered that she never makes impulse buys, so why did she do it this time. She felt horrible that she hadn’t included her mother in the final decision. She grieved for the dresses she had almost bought. Each day a new regret. Every time we walked passed a bridal shop I would try to distract her – like a father creating a diversion while driving past a miniature golf course with his kids in the backseat.
I tried everything I could to console her, but I hadn’t seen the dress, which made it difficult to give concrete reassurance. Instead, I told her about the pure glee I saw on her face earlier that day. I reminded her that since she never impulse buys – that this dress must be incredibly special. We even took the dress to Boston where she tried it on for her entire family, and everyone loved it. But the remorse continued.
And then I realized that there was no way to fix this. In fact, there was nothing to repair, because this wasn’t actually about the dress. It was about loss. With every big decision along wedding lane, there is a small death. The end of possibilities. But I know that with these endings come new beginnings. It is in the decisions we make along the way which will make our wedding unique. All ours.
Sometimes, when I am alone in the apartment, I walk over to the dress and gently pat the garment bag. I tell it to hang in there. Faye will come around. Besides, I happen to know for a fact that is the perfect dress – because it is the one my wife will have worn on our wedding day.
I am looking forward to meeting it in person.
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