Sunday, August 7, 2011

the rights of passage

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It's a ridiculous idea I suppose, but I’m thinking about planning a party – a gala event, if you will. For? Me. Like a wedding without the wedding. A friend of mine did something similar a few years back. On her 30th birthday, she had a bridal shower for herself instead of a birthday party – minus, of course, that “bridal” part. She was moving provinces, and instead of bearing the load on her own, she registered at Crate & Barrel. My own party idea is similar – minus, of course, that “bridal” part: I want to wear a gown and don a diamond ring and have everyone I love in the same room, for the sole purpose of celebrating our relationships, and sending me onward into life. Even if “onward” means in the same spot; even if “life” means happy solitude.

When I was younger, I didn’t give much secondary thought to weddings, other than -of course- happy cheer for the couple getting married. Weddings seemed common (they are), normal (still are), inevitable (…oh). I went through each wedding day expecting that I’d follow suit at some point, taking mental notes and admiring details; silently making a list of ideas for my own “one day someday”. Now that I’m older and I’ve become a woman quite at peace with my independence, I have begun to view weddings much differently. I no longer want the wedding – I just want the party. But this begs the question: can you even have the party without the wedding? Or will this bring on a glorious amount of labels and stigma cementers? Could I host this kind of a party for myself without feeling like a giant, self-centered ass?

I attended a marriage celebration last night; the first ceremony and reception I’ve attended since my change of heart about matrimony-as-a-goalset, and I admit the day felt quite different than it has in the past. The wedding was beautiful, the marriage sweet, the day spectacular; but as I admired the dress and the decorations and listened to the speeches, I felt saddened somehow. I felt like I was missing out on something good by desiring the life I currently have, instead of the life I’m supposed to want. If only I wanted to get married, then I might know how much people care, how happy people are for the life I’m leading; I, too, might be cared for in practical ways. I too might understand how deeply I am loved. I vocalized this thought to a friend at my table, and inquired aloud whether or not I would get to have speeches like this made about me if I never get married. Her response was honest and true and I knew it: “Sure you will,” she said. “At your funeral.”

photo source:

I am not complaining about my life or the people in it (I am blessed, and I know it), but rather, I am saying this as a form of observation: the rites of passage are only rights to those making certain passages; for those in the minority, those rites aren’t rights at all.

Obviously, the rite of getting married is reserved for those who get married. But what about the other ‘rites’? The celebration of life, the gifts, and in my mind the most enviable of all: the father-daughter speech. Do you want to know the real reason I get misty-eyed every time a father-daughter speech gets made? I’m jealous. I know my dad loves me, but I still want a speech. And I want it while I’m wearing a beautiful dress, and a ring I did not buy for myself, in a room full of people that are going to compliment me all day.

This is a risky announcement, I admit; that the only reasons I want a wedding have absolutely nothing to do with the actual wedding part; reasons that - based on their admission alone - make me sound rather pretentious. But I still can't help but wonder: do I really have to wait until I’m dead to celebrate my life on a grand scale?

You know, I think I’ll plan that party after all.
...I’ll let you know where I register.


Sharelle said...

I actually have thought this exact thing you are saying for years. It all started with the SATC episode called "A Woman's Right to Shoes".

For a long time - I've thought that its' silly that we are so focused on the wedding as the day we "send people into adult life". It seems like we should do that sooner - when people move out maybe, or move away from home. I'm with you - I love those big moments of affirmation, the speeches, the words. They mean so much to me too.

Let me know when it's happening. I can't wait to come.

.................................................................. said...

As soon as I saw you FB status update regarding this subject, my mind immediately went to the same SATC episode as well!!!! SO worth the watch!

Colin and Evelyn said...

What about a late Bat Mitzvah? :)
I'm all for celebratory parties!

Bailey's Brides said...

Umm did you ever do this...i would be sad to find out i missed seeing you in a fancy gown!

afterthoughtcomposer said...

Not yet Bailey! You'll be invited, don't worry :)