Creative Nonfiction

Going from Massachusetts to Montana for my childhood friend Sally’s wedding overwhelmed me—a sheltered twenty-year-old—in all directions.

First, I stayed with the groom’s family, on their sofa, where a puppy and kitten triggered my asthma by playing tag over my face all night. No one worried about that. (Much later, I lived in the Midwest, and realized that people who busted the sod and crossed the mountains are not worriers. Unlike my longtime Eastern family.)

Then I stayed with Sally in her apartment, sharing the only bed, causing Bob-the-groom to make hilarious comments about “lezbians.” In 1966, my ideas on that subject were vague, but I understood that he was teasing us. Icky teasing.

While staying with Sally, I discovered that she had agreed to do washing for her new sister-in-law. I helped. Someone had shat on the sheets, wadded them up, and left them for us to wash.

Then the groom’s mother yelled at me because I hadn’t created a bridal shower. I knew nothing about such things. She explained, irritated, that as maid of honor, it was apparently my job. In town where I knew no one. With that grumpy lady’s help, I threw a shower. No memories remain of that event, except that I put too much baking soda in the cookies and felt that I had to eat them all in penance.

The bridesmaid dresses were a lovely blue—the perfect color for my pink skin and red hair. In trendy Empire style—not a great look for my well-endowed body.

I had no idea how to deal with any of this. Much later in life, I visited South Africa. The culture shock of Montana was worse.

But Montana has glorious, endless space and sky. We took a trip to the mountains where the boys, Bob the groom and his buddy Rick, built fires and we watched the stars. Montana has a lot more stars than Massachusetts

Rick told me that he imagined “The Lord of the Rings” taking place in Montana mountains and prairies. I’d never heard of the book. I still own the ragged paperbacks that I bought, read, and re-read on my return to Massachusetts.

My only image from the actual wedding, which took place at a rustic chapel way out on the prairie, is Sally crying happily in Bob’s arms. After two children, they divorced.

I didn’t marry until I was 40, having first practiced living together with several people, and leaving that foolish sheltered kid far behind. I recommend marrying late.

February 11, 2020 02:27

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