Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Lilly felt like a giant doll stiffened by corsets, silk and tulle. Remembering a scene from a beloved childhood story, she reached up and touched the slanted white ceiling of her parents’ bedroom. The overwhelming transformation had begun when she put on the ring, and today she had reached the apex of her anxiety over the change. Lilly had slept alone in the same twin bed with the same cotton blanket for the past 23 years. She imagined her tears creating a giant stream that would carry her out the window to the bay as she stuffed the faded yellow bed cover, now a relic from her childhood made soft by endless washing, into an overnight bag. Lilly was crying as a result of feeling multiple emotions simultaneously, as one is wont to do when faced with a life transition. All at once, she was filled with joy, sadness, excitement and fear.
Peering out the window, Lilly could make out ripples in the chlorinated water of the family swimming pool below. How many times had she jumped into that pool clutching her legs in fetal position and enjoying the feeling of suspension before her body hit the water? All of today felt like those seconds of free-fall, but this time she was fighting to keep fear from distracting her and spoiling the jump. On this glorious sun-filled spring day, Lilly was getting married.
The aisles of the great brick building were long and carpeted in red. On the domed ceilings painted golden-winged seraphim came to life in this moment of grace, eavesdropping on the angelic human voice tucked away in the choir loft singing Ave Maria. Lilly fought back tears again. This time, in her mind's eye, her grandmother was joining in the song as she had done so many mornings alongside the old record player in her kitchen. Her father took her arm, and with careful slow steps led her down the flower-strewn path to the altar where the groom was waiting. He looked flushed and wistful, as if awed by the power of nature. Lilly glanced behind her, expecting to see a tidal wave, or perhaps, the Grand Canyon, but saw instead trodden rose petals and smiling faces arranged in neat rows. Her father kissed her, and Lilly could see the struggle in his face, to let go, to smile, to not cry. She understood the way a daughter does that beneath her father's pleasant countenance something was tearing. She directed her glance toward her feet to control the sudden involuntary twitch in her cheek muscles.
In that ancient church Lilly dived into marriage, trying to grasp on to rings, candles, words, prayers that were suspended in the atmosphere around her. This feeling followed her beyond the ceremony into the lush greenery of the park where the photographer snapped photographs. She discovered that clutching the groom’s hand seemed to stop her fall, and in those moments her sense of time was replaced by a certainty of eternity.
In the dark outside a stately restaurant with green and white stripped awnings, the party ended. The couple was pushed through a jovial triangular tunnel of friends into a yellow cab. Lilly had changed out of her gown into a plain black dress, but was still wearing her white wedding shoes.
To Lilly, a black dress coupled with white wedding shoes meant the world was out of sync.
“I have to go home,” she said, nervously.
The groom held his breath.
“I need my black wedges.”
Lilly was not high-maintenance, but she had to start off this journey in the right shoes. The groom knew Lilly. He understood her distress in secret ways, and paid the Cabby an extra $40 to stop at Lilly’s parents’ home, but the shoes were not there. They were stuffed in a white bag at her feet on the floor of the car throughout the whole diversion. As the cab set out on the highway again, approaching the lights of the bridge that lit the way to Lilly’s future, she secretly prayed that her courage was also hiding somewhere at the bottom of that bag.
Dear Internet Traveler,
Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.