My final wedding of the year took place in New Jersey last Friday night, for a girl that I suppose I have to describe as a “work friend,” but truly she’s so much more. We worked together while I was at my last firm, and we’ve stayed close – she always joked I’d be invited to the wedding, but it was still a(n awesome) surprise to receive the official invite in the mail a few months back. I mean, she easily could have given the invite to another distant family member, another friend of her husband’s, but she chose to have me there, and I couldn’t have been more honored. Terrified, to be fair, as I made my way down the hotel elevator to the shuttle bus alone, feeling the full weight of knowing not a single soul at that wedding, but honored and excited all the same.
My fears of basically crashing a wedding with an invitation were totally unfounded, and within three minutes of sitting on the bus, I’d made a friend, and I kept meeting awesome, fun, wonderful new people all night, who embraced me as their own and did their best to make sure I had fun. I looked around at one point at the afterparty, and realized it felt almost comfortable. It felt like I was supposed to be there, like I’d known everyone there for years and maybe it wouldn’t have been the same if I weren’t there. I’m sure it would have been – or perhaps everyone was just blinded by my sequined pants. But it felt that way nonetheless.
Two days later, in an attempt to sweat out the rest of my hangover from the most aggressive partying I’ve done since my very early single days (#jersey), I went to a Bikram yoga class in Harlem and found myself meditating on the fact that I hadn’t felt that in a really long time, like maybe it would have been different if I weren’t there. It’s a hard feeling to explain – it’s not that I’m linking that statement to a particular occasion or even group of friends or family. But to be so wholly embraced by these strangers as a friend, to have the bride single me out in a wedding of nearly 200 people for a dance and many selfies, just to feel like I was with a group of people that were so happy I was there, it all felt foreign, in a great and terrible way.
Replaceable. We replace our dishes, we replace our clothes, we replace our apartments and we replace our friends. Sometimes we grow out of things or we break them, sometimes things outgrow us or walk away. Everything, mostly, is replaceable, whether we want to believe that or not; it’s nice to think we’re all going to live in the same place forever and we’re going to work the same job forever and we’re going to be best friends forever, but when you account for all the growing up we do in such short periods of time, it makes sense that sometimes we just need to move on. Imagine reading the same book over, and over, and over, doing the same thing over, and over, and over. Eventually it’s time for a new book, because the old one is worn out or you don’t like it anymore. Lately I’ve felt like that book, worn out and no longer relevant. Replaceable, if you will.
I stopped by to see my M&N, the newlyweds, after work this week so I could catch them up on the juicy wedding details, and she made a comment that’s stuck with me. After I mentioned how much fun I’d truly had, despite not knowing anyone, she laughed and said “of course you did! It was the first wedding this year where you could basically just turn up and say I’M HERE!” She meant it more like I wasn’t on bridesmaid/maid-of-honor duty for the first time, but I heard it on a different level. The wedding was a blank slate. I was a blank slate, page one of a new book. All the bullshit of the past six months, two years, five years, ten years, no one knew any of it. No one knew who I used to be, no one knew what it took me to become this person.
They just knew me as me. The Me now, this me that I’m carrying with me into 2016. It was a new page in the Book of LB, a blank slate, replacing the prejudices of the past two, five, seven years and starting over. And it felt nice to be on Page One of something again. In fact, I’d say that feeling is irreplaceable.