<< Clinking glass for speech >>
Hi everyone!! I just wanted to thank you all so much for coming to Jessica and Doug’s wedding!!!!
I hope you all are enjoying your salads!
For those that don’t know me, I’m Penelope, maid of honor!!!
Ok, I guess from what I’m wearing, you can tell I’m probably not really maid of honor.
And you can probably tell I wasn’t even invited to this wedding.
Look – stop – I’m not gonna be crazy up here. I just want to get out what I have to say and I’ll leave, ok?
My AA sponsor said weddings are a historic moment and I need to respect that – so I’m trying, ok? I’m really trying.
So – the truth. You deserve the truth. Jessica does too.
This isn’t the type of speech I want to give right now.
Doug. Do you remember when we met?
You were just 19, so cute. I remember the first minute I saw you, strolling across the campus lawn - you practically walked straight into the library when you asked me where it was. I pointed to the open door behind me with a smile. We didn’t meet then.
Do you even remember me there? Holding Green Peace pamphlets in my hands, looking up at your face with the warm September sun shining like an aura behind you, my heart sinking. Do you remember me at all, melting in that light of you, as you plucked a single pamphlet from my hand, and before I could say a word, tucked into that open door, leaving me slack-jawed and staring at your slouchy stoner back adorned in tie-dye.
I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to ever see you again.
Do you remember a few months later when we finally met again at that party? What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen, I asked? You said it was a kid you saw once, getting off a school bus – pulling his arm down in victory – like this.
I laughed and laughed. We were outside at the picnic table, looking inside at the party through the windows, and I imagined life to always be like this from every day forward, the two of us side by side; looking through a window into a warm party – but we’re warm on our own, even out in the cold.
Do you remember the day we finally held each other?
We had walked all day in the rain – the kind of New England rain that chills you to the bone. In my apartment your jeans were still damp and a darker color blue when I climbed on top of your lap and asked, “What are we?”
My friend has a funny, made up word for it, I said. A boyfriend who isn’t quite a boyfriend, I said. It’s called a bubaloo.
“A bubaloo?” you asked. But what if you just called me boyfriend instead, you asked.
Coming from your lips, the word made me quiver.
And so we began.
Doug, I remember you now, on another afternoon, standing in my bedroom. The daylight fading through my window onto us. I told you I wasn’t going to my class, even though you would have walked me to it if I had. I remember looking at the clock. It was 4 pm.
I hadn’t wanted anything more in my life than I wanted to be there in that moment, watching you watch me, my layers unraveling to the floor until there was just nothing left – nothing but everything, if that makes any sense.
I don’t think anyone has ever really seen me since.
When my mom’s drinking became too much and she couldn’t pay for school any more, and I knew I was going home, we hugged beside my car - packed to the gills - trash bags of clothes, tossed books, and a bulky stereo piled high and visible through the windows.
“You’re gonna kill that man,” a passing yellow cabby joked as he drove by. But I looked at your face, and it felt true.
All those miles back to mom’s were miles I could literally feel under my feet, adding up to what felt like a million, separating me from you.
I wish I had told you then how full of shit I was, that I hadn’t actually meant good-bye.
I know I told you once that I’ve never tested you, but that’s a lie. I’ve tested you so many times. I held your hands in my hands and I said good-bye and I went through the whole act of pretending it was real because I wanted you to stop me. I wanted you to stop me so bad.
I wanted you to grab me and refuse my goodbye, and tell me that this is something we have both been waiting our whole lives for and even though it might seem dumb or stupid and no one understands, we need to seize it. We owe that to ourselves, right? But you didn’t say any of these things. You just said, “in another lifetime,” with a sad smile on your face, and watched me drive away.
I didn’t mean goodbye.
You called me. You called me that May. Seeing your name on my phone. Who wouldn’t answer?
But this time, there was a different word on your lips. It was Jessica.
“I don’t know,” you said, painfully. “But I have to go.”
“This is better for both of us,” you said.
And so my fingers were pried off you, one by one.
And so the years then passed, until I was back near school, visiting an old friend when I saw your wedding invite clipped on her fridge, hidden behind some coupons.
Doug, I said. She nodded, saying she forgot to take it down before I arrived.
But the thing that keeps me going is knowing one day I’ll run into you again, years from now. I’ll probably be an old woman, the kind who keeps a bottle of chardonnay in her purse, that and a plastic cup. Just like mom. Ha. I’ll probably have dog hair all over my clothes too, soup stains on my sleeves.
I woke up this morning feeling so fucking lucky for ever finding you. Even if nothing ever happened, how lucky were we? That time in particular, your fingers entangled in mine, that afternoon light shining on us, taking in the longest look there ever was upon each other’s souls.
So maybe I’ll be there in 30 years, seeing you again like that day on the campus green. But this time I’ll have dog hair on my clothes. Chardonnay on my breath. Will we even say hi? Maybe we wont even have to, and that’ll be enough for me.
So, here’s to you, Doug.
And to the happy couple. May you always give each other your truth. Because I really believe if I had, it would have changed my life.