illusions, passions

Never a bridesmaid

While some women brood over being “always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” I must say that they should consider themselves  lucky.  Being fabulously Pinay, I love weddings; but then again, what girl doesn’t? The nerve-wracking preparations, naughty  presents for the would-be bride, pretty dresses and foxy shoes, and the welcoming arms of an open bar never fail to make me  all bouncy with excitement. Despite all these, I have to say that I am the antithesis of Katherine Heigl’s character in 27 Dresses, which is quite ironic if I add that I have three sisters and about three different sets of girlfriends.

the odd one out is me :)

the odd one out is me 🙂

I know that I’m unabashedly rationalizing here, but of the entire womanpower combined, only three have actually gotten  married: my eldest sister and two of my college friends. In all fairness, I did have my part in these weddings. At my  sister’s, I was on the entourage as a “cord sponsor,” and with my college roommate’s, I was a Scripture reader (the rest  of our roomies were bridesmaids, but I take comfort in the fact that I had speaking lines–and they didn’t :P). I would have  been a VIP guest at my other friend’s wedding (especially since it was a very private event), if only I had enough sense to
remember that she did a switch-a-roo on the date (Picture this: I was all glammed up, putting on the finishing touches to my  make-up when I received an SMS reply from an old classmate: “What do you mean ‘Are you going?’ The wedding was yesterday!”).  Even in romantic comedies, this never would have happened (If a screenwriter comes across this, please remember to give me my cut)… It hit me then: I had been too preoccupied with whatever seemed important at certain stages in my life that I missed  out on the people who truly matter. Now THIS is a typical plot element–the kind of turning point that compels Matthew  McConaughey to go after J. Lo in The Wedding Planner and prompts Alicia Silverstone to proclaim the classic, “I love Josh!”

I’ve never been a bridesmaid, and although it’s something that I’m not ashamed of, I do have my regrets–and not because I  didn’t get to wear monochromatic gowns. It simply means that I have lost my opportunity to show my friends that I can be there for them on their Big Day. More than that, it makes me realize that friends grow apart for various reasons. It could be that moving to a new city or job make us acquire new values systems which our friends don’t share. It could also be attributed to distance, time, and sometimes, you simply outgrow each other. Unless you actually have a falling out with a dear friend, the sad process usually creeps in, and you just wake up one day not knowing how or where your best friends are.  It begins with dinner conversations that seem to sound Greek to you, because you are already out of context. And then, there are shorter phone calls and less frequent SMS. After a while, even these are relegated to e-mails or e-group updates, until you can no longer understand even these.

Don’t get me wrong. I do have great friends. Despite their busy schedules and their own “structured priorities” (as one of them likes to call it), they have managed to organize dinners and the occasional movie or margarita. I wasn’t so bad either.  I used to be the kind of friend who would take half a day off from work when one of them gets into boy trouble or a career jam. Between my first job and now, however, something must have happened with my own structured priorities.  I can recall that a few years before leaving Manila,there had been countless instances when I  had been too busy for meet-ups and small talks over coffee. Without meaning to, I have conditioned the people who know me best to think that I was not to be derailed, re-programmed, or made on-call. “We thought that you couldn’t make it,” became their standard response, and I do understand.  If I were to plan my own wedding, I would want my bridesmaids to be able to block off the date in their calendars and Blackberries, surprise me with a bridal shower, guarantee to show up, and never mix up dates, too! No wonder…

By contrast, I have been the female version of Jim Carrey in Yes Man pretty much–withdrawn and equipped with one too many excuses. Even if mine had always been completely true, they did sound as if I was just being creative. To make things worse, they are nothing now but excuses that worked too well.

A bridesmaid’s role requires not just time but the commitment to play that part long before the rehearsal dinner and after the ceremonial bouquet toss. I wrote this for other women who can still make it up to their friends and for the friends that I have lost touch with.  I would probably be up to my neck in work, with my calendar looking like a crossword puzzle, even before your boyfriend could muster enough nerve to propose. But hey, if you invite me to your wedding, who knows, I just might be there.


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