Sunday, May 20, 2007

twelve hours of emily

Yesterday was the Day of Emily, where she had both wedding shower and bachelorette party, which was a clever idea indeed, particularly since many of her guests traveled from out of town to celebrate this friend's transition into wifehood.

Entering Emily's aunt's house, with a lush backyard and perfectly white carpet: Emily, overjoyed and overwhelmed, flinging her arms around each guest, near-shock at how they are all there for her and her alone. It was the first time I've seen her vulnerable, the first time I've seen her almost child-like in her joy. She wore a sundress and her hair curled perfectly and she looked positively glowing, which sound so cliche, but it was absolutely true.

We spoke of the first time we met: July, just before the first school year at This High School, wearing hard hats and getting a tour of the auditorium before it was finished. We leaned forward, looking into the abyss of grey dust, of wide expansive space to eventually be filled with plush red seating, deep lighting, and confiscation of cell phones. And we chatted casually, sizing each other up, finally deciding that the other was "bitchy." And two years later, we discussed how, in terms of professional women, or women who are supposed to find comfort in any kind of authority, "bitchy" is equivalent to "confident" and ultimately, "rival."

You see, we were the two theatre folks in the school. She was to teach it, and I was to work on the co-curricular aspects.

And this is how so many of my girl friends are: bitchy. And I mean that in the most affectionate, complimentary way possible: confident, smart women who go in with a purpose. That's how I like my girls. Successful, bright women who have a passion for what they do and can bring so much into a relationship, can help you learn so much and can take joy in that dialogue.

But this day, Emily was the epitome of adorable, not because her guard seemed to be down, but because she was in the company of all the women in her life who would support her when times got rough in her future marriage, who would celebrate with her when those glorious events occurred (how long is it until you'll start trying again?), who will sit with her on an ordinary day, drink some iced lemonade, and take the dogs for a long walk. And these are the women who have already born witness to so many transitions in her life and have loved her through each one, and there we all were, from the most recently initiated in the Clan of Emily, to the one who has known her when she was a mere image on an ultrasound screen.

She was truly delighted at everyone--not just the wonderful presents that all seemed to be a great gift and surprise (despite nearly all she had registered for) and the gorgeous, Martha Stewart-esque appetizers, but the mere presence of each one in that room.

From wedding shower, Emily took me to her house to see it for the first time. It was adorably Minneapolis--tiled bathroom floor with glass doorknobs, front room converted into study, backyard with gloriously big trees (I am jealous, but she wants them cut down; I wish we could just transplant them into my own yard with our miniature trees). They are redoing their basement, a talent I am fiercely jealous of, as we have a basement nicknamed "The Vortex of Hell" and I hate to go down there alone. It was nice to see where she lives, so I could imagine her when she tells me stories of home, of recovering from surgery and being bored in front of the television, of her dog Jersey who is a spindly adorable dog.

Her bachelorette party was an old-fashioned sleepover, complete with a game of girl talk. I was lucky enough to spin the slot that required another girl to style my hair. I had secretly been dying to have Emily do something with my own. I love my hair but am incapable of styling it myself (I learned about aestheticians [I refuse to spell it without the root "a"] at this party and am considering how lovely it would be to have a cleansing of my skin and face and am shocked at how I am leaning toward anything involving cosmetics, pruning of eyebrows, actual styling of hair, but content at this transition of my own). And I had heard Emily can boast styling hair at her own sister's wedding.

I love having my hair braided. My mother used to French braid it all the time. Mandy would braid in into spirals on my head. I don't know what it is about the peaceful swish of brush in hair, of tug as it begins to create an image, or maybe it's the resemblance to Celtic knotwork, or fisherman's nets, or fine knitting, but I love the braid. I love how hardy it is, how purposeful, how elegant without the pretension.

I went home sleepy and sated, full of warm fajitas from the grill, of meeting Emily's cache of friends, of a long stretch of rolling in estrogen. It was great to be the silent observer. I was too shy to take many photographs, too shy for much of anything in a room full of speech girls, of girls who know how to communicate out loud and do so smoothly and at a quick clip, all comfortable with so many years of friendship. The room warmed with teasing, with memories, with happy celebrating of the princess of the day.

PS: Something amusing--I met a girl whose married name is Basil and her maiden name is Parsley. These are the things of quirky literature, not real life. And, I must add, a delightful woman, happy and caring and there on her own six year wedding anniversary, a kind sacrifice for her good friend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You make me blush, smile, and tear up. Thank you for being a part of my day and, better, writing about it so eloquently.