It was November.
I’m starting with a side note because it’s funny as hell. My tyrannical Hall Director I’ll refer to as Tiny Pippi Longstocking, invited four of us to her wedding in Mississippi. Kim, Bryan, Jay, and I made the drive because we were really the only friends she invited. And we weren’t really friends. On the way out of town, Bryan asked to stop at a gas station to get a drink. He came back with something in a brown paper bag. Whatever it was, he drank it on the way to Mississippi. We arrived at the church and were seated in a pew. The wedding started out normal, then Kim and I noticed the bridesmaids looked to be wearing blue potato sacks. They had no shape. I couple of the girls were maybe pregnant, maybe they’d had a big breakfast, I don’t know. Tiny Pippi Longstocking walked down the aisle in something that resembled a costume from a Renaissance Fair (not that there is anything wrong with that if Ren Fair’s are your jam, but this was weird). There were vines going up the bell sleeves of her dress. I couldn’t tell if she was wearing shoes. Bryan fell asleep on my shoulder. The bride and groomed walked back up the aisle to “Once Upon a Dream” from Sleeping Beauty. Jay, Kim, and I were giving each other funny looks and trying not to burst out laughing. If you know me, that’s a hard thing to do. The reception was in a room at the church. I was used to church weddings and receptions, they were usually nice and not too long – this one was too weird to be scripted. It was potluck. Now, if you’ve had a potluck wedding, don’t email me, I’m sure it was nice and the foods went well together and didn’t resemble something at Golden Corral. There was gumbo, spaghetti, unidentifiable casseroles, and other faire we dared each other to eat. The bride and groom were announced, a slideshow of the two of them as children started on a pull-down screen. Music started. It was “The Teddy Bear Picnic.” Kim and I shook our heads and looked around the room to see if anyone else seemed to think this was out of the ordinary. Obviously, it was just us. The song ended and began again. “The Teddy Bear Picnic” was on a loop. Yes, it was. Then one of us noticed him: a 70s pirate. There was a man dressed in a denim leisure suit with gold stitching and he was wearing an eye patch. Yes, he was. Needless to say, it was the best wedding I’ve ever attended.
It was early December. As the final nail in the coffin of my college career, Tiny Pippi Longstocking called me into her apartment to give me my review. She handed me the form she had filled out. It was brutal. Kerry did not attend classes and was a poor role model for her residents. My lack of enthusiasm for the job had diminished and my attitude was apathetic. No shit. I told Tiny Pippi it would be my last quarter and she could find my replacement. Good luck and fuck off.
Back in my room, I laughed and put on some music. I was meeting one of my friends in the Student Center that afternoon. I was actually going to go. The phone rang. It was Will. I hadn’t heard from him in months, maybe since spring. He had gotten my number from my mother. He was in med school. It was great to hear his voice. He asked me a ton of questions. I told him I was engaged and leaving college, that I wasn’t meant to teach, which I think he knew down deep. He told me he was happy that I was following my heart. We only talked briefly because I didn’t want to stand up my friend, but I wanted to stay on the phone as we had always done. We hung up with our usual goodbyes. I realized he never said why he called.
For the first time in a long time I was happy. I knew what I was doing. I was leaving school and getting married to the man I loved. I was getting my happily ever after. I had no idea what I was doing. That winter I studied wedding magazines instead of stuff from a syllabus. I only went to one class, African American Literature. Bryan and I were the only Caucasians in the class. Eventually I stopped attending even that class and the professor gave me an undeserved D. I was done. In my head I was done. At the end of that quarter my friends and I went to see my favorite band, Counting Crows, in Dallas. The show was held in a small warehouse-type venue and Adam Duritz sang just to me.
I left Louisiana Tech. I moved back in with my parents in Shreveport. I planned my wedding. It wouldn’t be extravagant. All of the ideas I had were tossed out the window. My dream dress with embroidered daisies was too expensive. My mother and I were told the 4th of July was a “non floral holiday” and florists and bakers took their vacations at that time. Everything was just bizarre. We would be married in my grandparents’ church where I once taught VBS and we would have a church reception. My bouquet and bridesmaids bouquets would be silk. My cake would be made by the bakery at Brookshires. It was actually delicious and the basketweave was exactly what I’d wanted. I adorned it with pink gladiolus. We had a rich chocolate groom’s cake. I loved my bouquet. Barely pink roses, the same color as the bridesmaids’s dresses. My shoes were heeled Mary Janes and the style name was “Kerry,” so that was destined to be. My veil was attached to a sequined and beaded headband that I would wear around the house and to watch Oprah in prior to the wedding. I loved that headband. I wore a blue garter, my grandmother’s earrings, and my dress looked like Ariel’s without the long sleeves. I was practically a Disney Princess.
I asked my sister to be my maid of honor. She accepted. We had never been close, but I still wanted her in my wedding. My sister had longed been troubled. Alcohol, drugs, the wrong crowds, you name it – but she graduated from high school with a 4.5 GPA. The girl was a genius. She could have been anything. It was my hope she could get it together enough to be my maid of honor. She would not. With all of the disappointments I had planning my wedding, this would be the biggest. Jennifer would be my maid of honor. Scott’s sister Amy, Darla, and my cousin Erin would be bridesmaids. Kim was director. I regretted not asking her to be my maid of honor. I felt that I had let her down. In all of the craziness with my sister, my mind was scattered and I didn’t do the right thing.
One month before my wedding I called Will. We had talked since I had been home. It was June. He said he was practicing guitar. It would be our last communication for six years.
Out of nowhere, the frenemy called. I told her I was getting married and wished her the best with her life and went on with mine.
Jennifer and my bridesmaids planned a Shreveport shower and bachelorette party. It was a wonderful weekend. My Mammaw Patsy gave me a breadmaker. Friends and family came. My great grandmother was there. She would pass away seven months later. My Aunt Joyce was there. We lost her this year. It was special.
My bachelorette party was held in true Kerry fashion with Mexican food and beloved John Hughes movies for an all night sleepover with brunch at one of the casinos the following morning. I had never been a partier and this was the perfect weekend for me.
Our rehearsal dinner was fun with fried catfish. It was the 4th of July – it had long been my favorite holiday because it meant fireworks and my birthday would be the week after. You couldn’t beat the 4th of July. There were fireworks just for me.
Our wedding was sweet I was surrounded by my family and friends. All of Scott’s big New Orleans family made the trip up. My dad looked so handsome in his tux. He took my arm to walk me down the aisle and I said “here we go.”
I cried through my vows. Scott meant every word of his. He had a hard time getting my ring on my trembling finger. It was a marquis diamond with rubies and diamonds on the sides. Ruby was both our birthstone and we were getting married in July, so it wasn’t a question that I would want rubies.
My mom and Jennifer and I went to the room I’d gotten ready in to help me out of my dress and change into my going away outfit. My Aunt Barbara and Uncle Jerry stopped me in the hallway and told me they wanted me to open their gift before I left. We all went into the “bride’s room” that was really a Sunday school room. My Aunt Barbara gave me a quilt with our names and wedding date embroidered. I cried again. It was so thoughtful and I cherished it. We lost her last year. I changed into my going away outfit, a dress Darla’s mother made for me when I spent a long weekend at their house on the lake. It was the summer of “Mmm Bop” (which is presently my ringtone, because you wanted to know that) and Darla and I must have watched the video a thousand times.
In the end, my wedding was mostly a blur, as most weddings are for the bride. Probably even more so for brides that take a Valium prior to the wedding so she didn’t have a panic attack with all the attention focused on her. I tried to put away the disappointment of my sister not attending my wedding, as well as a few important friends. It was over. We were off to the Caribbean.
I had absolutely no idea what I would do as a married woman when I returned.
I was 22 on my wedding day. I would be 23 when returned from our honeymoon.