Wedding Jitters or is God trying to tell you something?
Wedding Jitters or Is God trying to tell you something?
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
How many times in life have we ignored our inner voice to go through with something because we can’t face the trauma of getting out of it? I guess if we make our bed we have to lie in it, but often the lying in it is far more complicated and destructive than the making of it in the first place. Will we ever learn?
The following is an extract from my novel ‘Harold Be Thy Name’ and in it our protagonist is about to burry himself in just such a circumstance. Marriage is a huge step with long-term ramifications, something that requires much consideration before jumping in, or should I say ‘walking where angels fear to tread .’ In the story Harold is the voice of reason, an omniscient muse for Josh to understand himself.
It was a warm November morning and Josh desperately tried to loosen his collar, it was hot and restrictive. Beads of sweat formed ominously on his forehead as he was jostled around in the back of the old VW combi. Barry and Jane sat in the front merrily singing away to a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tape, unaware of Josh’s struggle in the back. He was trying to remain upright and not get his suit dirty, while sitting on a plastic milk crate, bracing himself with each turn of the wheel, slipping and sliding with each brake or acceleration.
The combi was a reliable old beast, but more used to carrying surfboards and guitars, rather than bridegrooms. But that was the least of Josh’s troubles.
‘God, I’m getting married,’ he muttered, hardly believing the circumstance in which he found himself. A cold sweat was consuming him, and he peered out of the window nervously, agitated. He wiped the dust covered glass panel with a rag from the floor and saw Harold by the roadside, watching him go by. Harold made no gesture, just followed Josh with his eyes as he passed, expressionless, his empty stare somehow foreboding.
The first time it happened Josh shrugged it off, but after three more times, Harold was beginning to get on his nerves. His expression was telling him something, but at this point Josh didn’t want to know about it. The sweat was now pouring down his face and a feeling of panic swept over him like some noxious gas.
‘You OK, Josh?’ shouted Barry over the music. Josh looked up with a pale, colourless face.
‘My God, you’ve got wedding jitters!’ laughed Jane, amused with his plight. ‘Everybody gets that, Josh. You’ll be just fine. We got through it, didn’t we?’ Jane followed with a knowing grin.
Josh responded with a half-hearted smile that looked more like a grimace. Then, while holding on to the side rail inside the combi, he lowered his head, still confused. But Josh’s apprehension was a little more complicated than Jane had speculated. It wasn’t just cold feet, but a real feeling of doom was clouding his every thought, like someone pounding on his brain shouting ‘Get out now, while you can!’
There was no doubt about this feeling it was as real as the sweat trickling down his face. So he went through it all mentally, bit by bit.
‘Carol’s fantastic, but a lifetime partner? I’m twenty-one, is it the right time? What the hell am I doing?’ he gasped. The confusion quickly escalating.
‘I can’t back out now,’ he thought. ‘There’s a hundred family and friends waiting. Even the minister’s Carol’s uncle. My God, what have I done?’ he whispered, closing his eyes and cupping his hands over his face.
‘We’re just about there Josh, the church is up here on the right,’ shouted Barry with a pleasured grin. Jane threw a towel over the back and Josh caught it just before it hit the floor. As he did an empty coke can rolled over his foot and clattered into the side door, its hollow clinking echoing in his head.
‘You’d better clean up a bit,’ she said, still trying to contain her amusement. Josh wiped his face and neck, thinking only of Harold’s expression and his not so subtle impartiality. Then Josh addressed himself and cleared his head.
‘Stop it!’ he thought.
‘I’ve got to pull myself together, get through this.
Come on!’ he added, straightening his tie.
Josh knew in his heart that this was wrong, but it was also too late. He just couldn’t do it to Carol. This wasn’t about her and she deserved better. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, silently asking Harold for strength. After a moment he opened his eyes again and his face became taut with determination. He was going to give this his all, give it his best shot. ‘I’m just being bloody stupid, too self-involved,’ he snapped. ‘I’ll do it, it’s all I can do.’
Josh wiped his face, brushed his hair back and took a deep centring breath. As he exhaled the combi came to rest under a beautiful Morton Bay fig behind the old stone church. Barry and Jane turned around in their seats with beaming smiles.
‘Good luck, buddy!’
‘Yeah, you’ll be fine, don’t sweat it!’ said Jane supportively.
Josh smiled back with a little more confidence and resolve, then slid the side door open and awkwardly scrambled out. He stretched, holding the small of his back and let out a medicinal sigh. ‘That’s better,’ he groaned, feeling nervous, but at least not suicidal.
While Barry locked the van, Jane added those female touches to Josh’s dress, straightening this and that. She then looked deeply into his eyes, her expression much more serious. Josh almost looked away, her probing glance felt almost intrusive, too personal. She leaned forward and gave Josh a soft kiss on his cheek, its warmth oddly moving him. A sudden wave of embarrassment left him feeling a little childish, naive or something.
‘Good luck,’ Jane whispered, gently touching his face. Josh smiled, a bit confused.
‘Harold, help me, what the hell’s going on?’ he thought in desperation. Just then Barry’s arm came firmly down around his shoulder, his face was beaming, eyes wide.
‘Come on, let’s get you to the altar,’ he quipped, jump-starting Josh and pushing him playfully toward the church. Josh settled himself and tried to focus.
As they approached the front of the church Josh saw a sea of familiar, smiling faces and a near frantic photographer, who’d been waiting anxiously for their arrival. After managing a quick wave to the congregating mothers and fathers and a nod to his future brother-in-law Jeff, Josh and Barry were whisked away for some preceremony shots in the garden. Everything from that point seemed softened, like a numbing blanket had been wrapped tightly around him.
Fifteen minutes later Josh stood before a full congregation, hands clasped nervously in front of him, his heart almost leaping out of his mouth. When the deep resounding tones of the pipe organ filled the church, Josh turned to the rear of the centre aisle and a chill raced over his body, beads of sweat once again forming over his brow.
At the entranceway Carol suddenly appeared, like some angelic vision of loveliness. In white lace and tulle she was radiant, with an intricately embroidered train that splayed out magnificently behind her. Josh saw the excitement and joy in her eyes and knew straight away he’d done the right thing. This was his life now, with Carol. This was their day. Suddenly his misgivings vanished, forced into the recesses of his mind, far from reality. All that he could think of now was making Carol happy and that’s what he was going to do.
No matter how we rationalise our actions we alone bare the brunt of the responsibility. They say there are no mistakes; just the resulting outcomes, and I suppose life is about learning, but we are seldom kind to us with our decision making. Often the journey is unexpected and fraught with peril, something that with or without our approval, needs our acceptance.