I’m getting married.
The wedding will probably be mid-January; my fiancé and I are figuring that out this week. You’re all invited for the dancing. Really. It’s going to be a wild time.
At Jewish religious weddings, anyone can come and dance. You certainly don’t have to wait for an invitation. We’ll have a private meal for close friends and family, but then the dance floor will open up around 8, and as Jewish beatboxer Y-Love puts it in his song Shake it For Your Maker, “if you’ve never seen this, you’ve never seen joy in your life”. He was talking about the holiday of Sukkos, but I think it applies here as well.
We got engaged about two weeks ago, after eight weeks of dating, after knowing each other for thirteen years.
It’s a beautiful story, a good one to tell.
I was thinking about all the stories we would tell our children one day, about what life was like when we were growing up. About all the fads. Like pogs. Who could explain that? Flipping over cheap cardboard circles, for hours of high class fifth grade entertainment. Or tamagotchis. Or not owning a cell phone until I was 18. Or being perpetually lost, before the GPS was even a Hanukkah gift possibility.
I also imagine the more serious conversations we would have on lessons I learned from my mistakes.
I’d attempt to explain to my children about the world I was raised in, that was incongruously both a gluttonously “disposable culture” and yet conversely also a society obsessed with “being green”.
I would tell them that in my youth “I bought designer bottled water,” and they would look at me in utter confusion and ask- “didn’t you have clean, free, tap water?” “Yes, yes, I would answer, but we were young and foolish.” “You paid how much?,” they would laugh.
I would tell them how my conscience at that time, desperate for rationalization, felt assured by the writing on the bottle altruistically explaining to me that by buying their product, I was somehow helping save the rainforest.
My children would look at me in the eye, my liberal, socially conscious children, and beg me to tell them that their mother didn’t really know how much of the rainforest was being cut down every day, that her “Google generation” didn’t have that information at their fingertips, that the government caught up in politically selfish motives concealed the truth from the ignorant masses.
I’d look away, and in that silence, their question would be answered.
I was young, I would repeat . We didn’t realize.
I am young.
I’m getting married.
I’ve got things to do. I must read “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” as soon as possible. I must internalize the importance of hangers and the benefits of keeping clothes off the floor. I must change my texting plan to unlimited. I must meditate on the steps to actualize the environment I want for my future home; a warm, grounded, thinking, and compassionate oasis.
I’m moving on in my life. Everything is dramatically changing, and I love it. I love the person my fiancé helps me become, I love working together with him on life.
I’m looking towards the future, and focusing on the practical next steps. Yet the understanding of the responsibility I will be taking on, with unlimited potential, is felt just as much as the responsibility I have to find a low-cost yet stunning antique wedding dress.
I don’t want my wedding to be the best day of my life. I want the day after the wedding to be better. And I want the day after that to be even better. And I want to look at my husband and my grown children forty years later and feel that, that day is the happiest day of my entire life.
I’m preparing for the next generation. What wisdom will I pass on? What lessons will I derive from my experiences? Will they laugh when I tell them that in my day, people paid forty thousand dollars a year to get a college certificate? Will they still drink Coca Cola? Will they be able to safely visit Jerusalem and cry at the Western Wall?
If I’ve learned anything after eight weeks of dating my fiancé it’s this: to love is to invest time- in caring, thinking, and subduing the ego. I feel even more sensitive to the preciousness and joy of existence. I feel even more acutely the impact my existence and the decisions, collectively and individually, that I must make as I move on to the next phase of my life, at last.