There was a time when the arrival of a wedding invitation on my doorstep would arouse in me a combination of utter fear and dread…
…today it’s a rather different story.
I would never describe myself as a ‘spinster’. Despite my huge variety of glassware and penchant for frequenting car-boot sales, I don’t feel like I live a lonely enough life to warrant that particular classification. By remaining single for the majority of my life I’ve no doubt caused my Mother an undue amount of stress, but at many other points in my life I have found myself doubting the decision that I have made to stay unmarried. It’s an old and rather over-told story, I know, but this feeling of doubt often used to manifest itself most when I attended weddings.
I made many good friends when I was university and thanks to social media I’ve been able to keep in contact with many of them. As the years have passed I’ve always made a point of visiting old housemates wherever they may live and because of this I’ve been invited to many, many weddings. I’ll happily admit that I really enjoyed the first few. I remember being so thrilled to discover that my close friend Josie was tying the knot with her long-term boyfriend Mike. The happy couple had met in the first week of university at the height of Freshers Week, they both swore that they wouldn’t get into a serious relationship so early in their university life, but 5 years later they were up at a church altar saying their vows.
The party was spectacular filled with happy family members and plenty of other friends that I’d made during University. It had only been a handful of years since we’d graduated, but somehow it felt like we’d all gotten so grown up. Many of us had started new jobs in new cities, most of my female friends had found partners and it seemed like everyone was settling down. I was too busy having fun to let these changes effect me. I had immersed myself in my work and was enjoying my life, I had not thought once about finding a life partner and this first wedding was not about to change my mind.
From my extensive experience I can tell you that ice sculptures for weddings were at the peak of their popularity during the early noughties, that customised name places came into fashion in 2001 and that roses became old hat back in 2003. It was perhaps the sixth or seventh wedding that I began to doubt myself.
A nagging sense of déjà vu purveyed in my mind. The familiar cycle of engagement announcement, invitation and then event began to take its toll and with each passing year I found myself sitting alone more and more often. Conversations with friends became awkward, they were unsure how to hold a conversation with a single woman in her 30s and felt embarrassed to ask how I was doing. I was sad at first. For the first time in my life I began to question my motives – had I made a mistake in not seeking a partner? Had I ostracised myself from society?
I talked to my Mother about it. Although we’ve often argued over the years, she had never once asked me to marry. I know she’d worried about it, but she’d never voiced these concerns. After a particularly stressful wedding I decided to bring up the subject. She told me that she worried about it for a long time until she remembered that’s she’d spent more of her life single than with a partner, and that she prised the time she spent alone much more than the brief few years she had with my Father. I wasn’t completely convinced at first but knew that she was right, so by the time the next invitation arrived any feeling of dread or fear had been completely eradicated.