Happy Would-Be Wedding Day

Today is March 12, 2016. Today would be our wedding day, if we were still together.

Five years ago was the last anniversary we spent together. We were 20 at the time. It was around then that we decided, since our anniversary fell on a Saturday in 2016, that’s the day we would get married. You would propose to me after we graduated college, and we’d take our time planning our dream wedding.

Although we weren’t officially engaged, we talked a lot about our impending marriage celebration. We knew who we wanted in our wedding party. We discussed venues, catering and first dance songs. I made mockups of our future invitations. I said I wanted to go to Paris on our honeymoon, and you were excited about that because you wanted to go to some big soccer thing in France in 2016. It all seemed to line up perfectly. I couldn’t wait to get started on the life we were planning. We were young, hopeful and naive. And then I grew up.

Before our next anniversary, I left you. I broke your heart, and I still hate that I hurt you like that. You couldn’t understand why I was throwing away our big, important dreams — not just the wedding and the honeymoon, but our two-story house in the Jersey suburbs with our three kids and American Eskimo puppy.

Looking back, I was more excited about the idea of getting married than I was about actually being married to you. I was so caught up in the white dress, the flowers and all the pretty little details that I blinded myself to the reality of our situation: Even though I could have all of those things with you, something would still be missing.

I loved you; I really did. But I wasn’t the same person I was when we got together in high school. I was no longer the broken, insecure girl you picked up out of the rubble of a love gone wrong. I was stronger, better and more confident. Yes, we had our dreams, but I had dreams of my own, ones I knew I couldn’t reach being anchored to you. I just didn’t need you the same way I once did. And although it didn’t make sense to you at the time, I had to take my wings back and fly away.

We’ve both moved on in pretty big ways. You’re in a serious relationship now. I see you two in pictures and it makes me smile, because it’s so clear how happy you are. I’m married now, and I went on that honeymoon to Paris (with someone who didn’t drag me to a soccer game). Our lives took very different paths, and I only hope that, all these years later, you can see this was for the best.

I’m sure there’s an alternate universe where I was too complacent to walk away. In this universe, I convinced myself that a life with you was enough, and we forged ahead with the plan we set into motion. Right now, you’re standing at an altar in a tux, waiting for me. I’m at the back of the church, arm in arm with my father, about to walk down the aisle and become your wife. All eyes and cameras are on me as the wedding march begins to play. I’m smiling, maybe bigger than I ever have in my life. But I’m not happy.

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