After my dad joined the conversation it got exceptionally loud in that little kitchen. Not because of him – my father was probably the calmest, most thoughtful human being I had ever encountered. Jamie was a close second.
No, my mom and my sisters decided that they each knew what my problem was. And they each knew exactly how to fix it.
My mother said I was being silly and overreacting to a case of cold feet.
“Everyone gets them! But that’s no reason to go traipsing around with ex-boyfriends!”
She felt that I should just quit messing around, put on my big-girl panties, and do what I was supposed to do. Judy then launched into a tirade about whiny millennials.
The fix suggested by Lisa was to just call off the wedding. It was glaringly apparent to her that I just didn’t want to get married. I was too young and shouldn’t rush into anything. She also felt I was being tremendously unfair to Jamie, stringing him along.
“The only decent thing to do is to cut him loose and stay single for a year or longer. Marriage isn’t for everyone.”
Maggie, with her imagined wealth of experience in all things, said that Jamie and I had been together too long and that I was simply feeling restless. She thought that I needed to get away to Las Vegas for a wild and crazy weekend.
“What happens in Vegas, and all that! Imagine blowing off some steam with an anonymous stranger. Sow some wild oats before settling down – you’ll feel like a whole new woman!”
Not surprisingly, my mother lost her damn mind at Maggie’s suggestion, Maggie thought Lisa was bonkers to think that being alone was the best course of action, and Lisa couldn’t believe that our mother would blindly overlook my feelings and push me into some sexist expectation from the Dark Ages.
Each one was shouting louder than the next and ignoring me, completely. I watched silently from the far side of the kitchen until tears blurred my vision. While Mom, Lisa, and Maggie were distracted, my dad nudged me with his elbow and waggled his eyebrows.
The cavalry had arrived.
It was simple to escape the house. None of them heard anything but their own voices at this point. My dad and I kept quiet until we had turned the corner a few houses down.
“You know they’re going to think I just ran away. Again. Mom’s going to shit herself.”
Thankfully, Jim was not as shocked by foul language as Judy was, and he chuckled under his breath.
“I have a feeling you’re right about that. But don’t worry – I’ll tell them that this time you were kidnapped.” He slung an arm around my shoulders and grinned down at me.
I had so much on my mind, and I had no idea how to express any of it.
“Dad, do you think I should just call off the wedding?”
He squeezed my shoulder. My dad would take his time to answer, carefully measuring each word before it was uttered.
“Kiddo, it doesn’t matter what I think – or what your mom or your sisters think, either. The only people this wedding should really matter to are you and Jamie.”
I sighed and laid my head on his shoulder.
“I know, Dad. In my heart I know you’re right. But I can’t help thinking that Lisa has a point. Jamie deserves better. Maybe the fact that I’m hesitating is – is proof that this isn’t what I want. That I’m just going along with it because it’s what’s expected.”
“Is that how you feel?”
Was it? Everything was such a mess I couldn’t tell what I felt.
“Did I tell you I ran into Doug last week?”
Judging by the sudden tension in his body, I had not. It was no secret my dad had zero love for Doug. And that was even without knowing the whole story. Losing your virginity on a bathroom counter was NOT something you discussed with your father.
“Don’t worry, it was purely an accident. I know what went wrong there. And he’s still an asshole. Hopefully he was drunk enough that he won’t remember he knows me, much less that he saw me.”
Dad shook his head and grunted.
“That kid was a dickhead.” I couldn’t help laughing. “Sorry, Alexis, but he was!”
“Still is, Dad.” I frowned at the sidewalk. “But running into him made me even more worried about the future. I thought I was in love with Doug.”
My dad stopped cold in the middle of the sidewalk and turned me so he could see my face.
“Jamie is NOT Doug.”
“I know. But – ”
“It sounds to me like you’re trying to talk yourself out of getting married. Like you don’t trust your own feelings.”
I groaned. “At this point, I don’t, Dad.”
He tucked my hand in the crook of his arm and started steering us back home.