I’m writing this post in San Diego, where I came to watch my nephew get married. Love, in all its forms, is in the air here – jumbled, chaotic, romantic, familial, platonic, big and delicate. You get this many people together and it’s both magical and scary to watch the stories intersect. There is a sense of fragility that is peculiar to weddings, a pause into which beginnings and endings get all jammed together; old wounds are as likely to be opened as they are to be healed.
My nephew’s wedding is full of the things that weddings should be full of – love, flowers, promises, music, dreams, memories, champagne, cupcakes. (And bubbles! They have bubbles!) I love how the groom looks at his bride, I love how she looks back at him. I don’t love the part of me that thinks of the statistics and worries it might not last. I banish that part of me as I get up to dance. I want to fill the world with silly love songs.
There are toasts, a flying bouquet, a garter shot through the air like a rubber band. There are pictures and hugs, tears and silliness. And through it all, they shine. They grin at us and we grin back, and our smiles encompass the world.
Romantic love gets all the attention. Maybe that’s because we choose it, foolishly, against all odds. We risk our hearts for the chance to share them… even if, in the end, it doesn’t feel like a choice at all. I love that about love. The way it makes us all heroes and victims at the same time.
I think of that when they cut the cake. When the groom smears icing on the bride’s cheek, so she smashes her cake all over his face and into his hair. Sometimes you eat the cake, and sometimes you wear it. That’s what I think. And the 12-year-old boy in front of me turns and says, “That. Was. Awesome.”
I think vulnerability could become a practice for me, the way yoga is a practice, or meditation… or even religion; I believe in the power of vulnerability with the same sort of fervency. Brene Brown says that in order to be really loved, you have to be really seen. Deeply seen. Vulnerably seen. I think that’s true. And profound. And terrifying.
It seems counterintuitive, the idea that vulnerability is the key to fearless love, but I think it is. We are most vulnerable when we let down our defenses, when we’re honest and open and generous, when we love without guarantees. We are also, I think, at our most stunningly beautiful then.
I want to write something like that to the bride and groom, but I can’t think of how to say it. Neatly. In a card. To 28 year olds. So I quote Tom Robbins instead. I tell the happy couple not to honor and obey, but to aid and abet the outlaw that is love.
“Love is messy,” I write. “Embrace the messy.”