"Bro, I'm on my way, I'll be there in 20 minutes". I don't know why I expected any different. Things change when your friends have families and kids. I was on my way to my friends wedding, driving with a glimmer of hope that I won't be going alone to another social event.
My friends Jason and Karla were getting married. We all met in physiotherapy school. Jason was with another girl when he started seeing Karla. Jason was stuck in Karla's group for an assignment, he hated her. She was bossy, mean, and did I say bossy? Eventually, he started to warm up to her and as soon as they started going out, I told him, " You know you guys are getting married right"? He laughed and said, "Nah, I don't think so". It was 3 years later I was getting my invite to their backyard wedding 2 hours away from the city, as they were owners of their own physio clinic and their apparent immortal souls- through a legal union of course.
I was driving to their wedding sitting with a familiar feeling. I needed to put on my performance to appear to be happy for them, happy to be going by myself through a series of justifications about how being single is the way to go, and happy about my other physio friend Igor being a married man with a kid and only asking to hang out with me as an attempt to escape from his married troubles.
Igor was a really close friend of mine. We were a group of four through physio school. Jason, Igor, myself, and Ali. Ali went MIA after we graduated (he tended to do that, probably working on some get-rich quick scheme). Igor and I bonded over our passion for our profession and appreciation of human anatomy and creativity. We always talked about teaching on our course some day. This was just talk. Once Igor got married to his wife Alina, and they had their baby Andrei, this changed our dynamic to the typical familiar situation most late 20 year-males encounter- complying with societal and biological pressures to start a family and cease to self-develop as an individual but rather become a former shell of yourself.
In any case, it wasn't my first time going solo to an event. I went solo to Igor and Alina's engagement, filled with a room full of Russian speakers, still managing to be the life of the party by the end of the night. It's my specialty. I can make conversation with anyone and blend in and have fun while suppressing thoughts of my own loneliness and guilt-ridden conscious of not wanting to settle down in a traditional sense while betraying my cultural familial value and upbringing.
I show up to the house. I line up with the other guests. All couples. At the reception area, there is a polaroid camera where you can snap a pic and leave the picture inside the reception book with a message. I awkwardly ask the couple behind me to take a picture of me, alone. I even stood as if someone should have been next to me. Maybe I can add in Mila Kunis' picture afterwards. Is she still with Ashton Kutcher?
I take my seat with the other 30 guests. I don't see my friend Igor anywhere. I figure he is running late getting Andrei ready and convincing Alina he won't leave her alone to mingle with the non-Russian guests. I look over to my right in the next aisle of seats and see Lauren, a girl Jason tried to set me up with before. The only other single person in the party. I never liked the set-up, too much pressure, and I always felt forced to connect with the other person. And I was sure they felt the same way. I remember the last time we met, she started talking about how crystals had energy. I remember zoning out, dazed out, thinking to myself why Jason would set me up with this person. Was I that desperate?
The ceremony starts, Igor just shows up as he and his family sit in the back. I have to admit, I got caught up in the moment. Jason and Karla were getting married, and I couldn't help but sink in my seat, hug my arms, slouch and look at the floor thinking about my past failed relationships. I didn't mind being alone anymore, I just didn't want to feel lonely. As you get older, it feels as though you are in a bar and everyone is getting their fill of happiness, drink after drink of happiness through the security of settling and conforming, and I'm cut-off. Cut-off from genuine human connection, cut-off from the security of the warmth of another person, cut-off from life really while gripping with death of the self- or rather the soul I should say. Maybe Huey Lewis was onto something with Hip to be Square and the pleasures of conformities, or wait was that Patrick Bateman?
The night carried on as I predicted, drinking, dancing, awkward and insincere conversations with unfortunate insincere druken speeches. Igor stayed for an hour before Alina gave him the look basically saying, "You're having too much fun without me involved, I'm tired of watching Andrei, let's go home and make it seem like your idea so I don't look bad here". Igor gets the hint. They say bye, he leaves with the familiar promise of having me over so we can hang out. I say what I usually say, "Sure, anytime brother." It gets harder and harder to say that without dying a bit inside. Finally, Lauren starts to approach me nearing the end of the night, she is smiling at me widely, flips her hair, and walks in slow-motion towards me. I start to think, "Ok this is something new", optimistically thinking this could be the start of an interesting story, experience, I don't know, just something. Lauren says, "Heyyy!!", as she spills some whiskey on my brown Italian dress shoes. I say, "Hey"- with less y's and unbridled enthusiasm. I comment on her necklace and say, "Nice necklace". She says, "Thanks!!! Do you know crystals have energy?!?"....
Well you know the rest.....