I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say. I mean, I know what I’m supposed to say, what my “line” is: “I do.” A couple vowels and a click of the tongue; two little words, that’s it. Pretty simple, really. But despite their tiny appearances, the words must be much larger than they seem on paper; they’re currently wedged in my throat, and I can’t quite get them past my tongue.
I’d ask you what’s wrong with me, why I’m suddenly so incapable of uttering such a minuscule phrase, but that would also involve the use of my vocal cords, so I suppose I’m in a “Catch-42,” as your uncle would say. I’m not quite sure if he means to always confuse Heller’s famous literary number with that of Adams’, but one gets the general gist from the “quote,” so maybe it doesn’t really matter. Either way, at least it gives your uncle the rare chance to seem smart.
Why am I thinking about your uncle? I should be thinking about answering the priest, but his question just seems… impossible to answer. “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse…” blah blah blah blah blah; who phrases a question like that? It just goes on and on, like the fine print of some software agreement that everyone skips past without reading, but now I have to click on “I Agree” with all my friends and family watching, and yours too?
Not to mention all the acquaintances that showed up to get laid and support a couple they barely know; I don’t especially care about their opinions on our union, so why are they watching us too? Are they the stock-car race attendee in the stands, praying for an accident to break up the monotony of turning left for a near infinite number of laps? What would be the “accident” here; me answering “no?” Or is it a doomed “yes” they’ve come to witness?
Oh wow, that was dark. I didn’t mean to think of my agreeing to marry you as something being doomed, that was… I’m just… You know. I’m nervous. I still don’t really know why. I was fine this morning.
Your niece, Angela, was out playing in the garden, searching for those fluffy dandelions we used to blow away when we were kids. You remember those, right? They’re sort of like birthday candles; you blow the little bits of fluff away and make a wish, and you can’t tell anyone or it won’t come true. I’m not sure if Angela was really keen on the wish part, as she mostly just seemed interested in blowing on the dandelions and watching the fluff fly off, but I guess I don’t really blame her; that really was always the best part.
It was a couple hours ago, but I had already finished getting ready, and had some time to kill, so I watched her play for a bit. You know, I would never say this to your brother’s face, but I’ve honestly never really been a fan of the name “Angela,” and I always thought it was kind of a bland choice on his and Romy’s part. But I got to admit, in that moment when I watched her play with the dandelions, I saw it: the little angel she is; a truly holy being. In her joy and laughter was the essence of life, and the meaning of existence, and hearing that and seeing her, I…
I knew I found it: contentment, or the first stone in the road towards it, anyway. Angela would pluck a flower and raise it to her lips, and worry and stress and dread, all that crap, would peel off and float into the ether, and she’d be left with giggles and smiles, and the wonder of simply just enjoying something. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life, besides you in your dress, of course (you look gorgeous, by the way), but don’t be surprised when Angela comes in with the rings in a second if she’s covered in bits of grass and dandelions. Trust me, she’s completely ruined her dress, but it’s pretty darn cute.
It was incredible how much she reminded me of you in the garden, back when we were as little as her. It’s funny; I’ve never really thought you two looked alike, but when she was bouncing around with those dandelions, she seemed so… well, you. It made me think of us playing, when I’d pretend to chase you and you’d pretend to run away, and it would always end with us out of breath and tired of running, and we’d resort to making wishes on the dandelions instead. Did you know what I wished for, even then? On what shared future I hoped each seed would land?
Maybe that’s why I can’t answer the priest, why I’m having such trouble saying “I do”: I’m still afraid that if I say my wish out loud it won’t come true. Does that sound cheesy? It probably does. Still, it’s true, and I bet you’d think it was pretty cute. You think everything I do is cute. It’s one of the many, many things I love about you.
Like the way you smile when you catch me watching you put your makeup on.
The little comments you make about my appearance, good or bad; just the fact you even notice, that you’re looking.
That silly voice you make when you’re imitating your friend.
When we’re talking, or watching TV, or just sitting and doing nothing, and you lean in next to me and point at your cheek, and tell me to kiss you. And you have that same smile.
But it’s so much more than those little things, even though they are everything; it’s the big stuff, too.
Knowing that you’ll be there for me, that I’ll be there for you, no matter what.
We’ll each have a shoulder to cry on, and a partner to hold up.
Two halves will become one, and the sum of our parts will be so much greater than the whole.
Of course I want that. Of course I’ll marry you, and spend the rest of my life with you. Of course I’ll say “I do.”
I should probably tell the priest that, though; I know it’s only been a couple seconds since he asked me, but I can tell he’s the impatient type, and I’m pretty sure he’s glaring at me. I mean, he’s Catholic, so what do you expect, right?
Ok, here goes, I’m gonna say it. I’m just going to open my mouth and-
Whoaaaaa, that’s a lot of dark coming in. Is anyone else really hot in here? I swear, this ground’s getting pretty wobbly too, we should probably call-
Oh, I’m fainting, aren’t I? Yeah, that explains why I’m on the ground now. Yup, this is embarrassing.
It’s alright, though; this’ll make a great story for our kids. “Did I ever tell you guys,” you might mischievously start, instantly hooking their attention, “about the time your dad fainted at the altar?” And they’ll laugh, and you’ll laugh, and I’ll laugh.
And everything will be just perfect.
It’s ok, really; just slap me a couple times and I’ll wake up, and everyone will laugh and sigh, and I’ll get up and say “I do,” and the priest will tell us to kiss and we’ll do it. And we’ll be married. And we’ll be happy.
I love you, honey.
“I really do.”