The other day, The Dude and I were off to the hospital for a routine appointment and I noticed a photo on the wall – a harbour in the sunset.
“Oh! That’s where we got married!” I announced.
“No. That’s Sticky Tape Pier,” he replied.
And he was right. Of course he was right. But there was a reason that the picture of Sticky Tape Pier resonated, a reason that when he mentioned the name it took me right back to that windswept day when Sticky Tape Pier got its name. (Obviously, Sticky Tape Pier is not Sticky Tape Pier in the mapbooks.)
It was two weeks before our wedding. My dad had announced he wasn’t going to wear the suit that we’d picked out. My best friend from London had broken off all contact on hearing of our engagement. My husband’s best man’s wife, who was going to stand in as a matron of honour, had decided she didn’t like the colour for our wedding and so she wasn’t going to do that anymore. And my family from South Africa, including the cousins who were supposed to form part of the bridal party (no wedding is complete without flower girls and page boys) weren’t sure if they could come because there were issues with their passports or visas (the details are vague).
So here I was, getting ready to get married to this man, in a strange country, not knowing the customs, and everything I tried to do right seemed to be going wrong. Who would marry a woman who couldn’t even get a bridal party together for her own wedding? If I couldn’t do that, how would I ever manage to run a house? What was I even doing thinking I could marry some guy, and that he would be happy with me? Didn’t he know I was different, and odd, and not really worth the bother at all? I know I thought that maybe everything was a huge mistake.
The Dude drove me to Sticky Tape Pier. I walked out, watched the waves tumbling over themselves, throwing up spray. I saw the harbour, with the ripples slapping a gentle rhythm against the wall. It’s all the same water, I realised. It’s just some is out there, getting tossed by the elements, and some had found a place of safety and shelter. Sometimes you need to go out and brave the elements to achieve things, but you also need time in the harbour. And that is what The Dude has been for me – a harbour where I can rest, repair my broken heart, strengthen and replenish myself for the next stage of the journey.
It’s not about the wedding, you see. It’s not about the pretty clothes, or who is there to see you do the thing, or what other people may think of how you did the thing you did. It’s about the marriage. It’s about the heart of the matter. Like the way that The Dude took me out to Sticky Tape Pier and promised to always keep me safe. And he’s kept that promise, every day from that day to this. Even on the days that I make him cringe (hey, I’m me, it happens), he has always kept me safe.
Epilogue: My family did make it to the wedding. I was able to incorporate the daughter of a very generous friend into the wedding party at the last minute. My Dad bought a suit to match what everybody else wore, and we bought him a waistcoat. You can’t tell from looking at the photographs. What happened to my London friend remains a mystery to this day. Some things you just need to let go.