I really hadn't wanted to go, for a variety of reasons (not being likely to know anybody else there; not really being in the mood for celebrating other people's relationship bliss; having major angst about the present/card situation; vague avoidant not-wanting-to-leave-the-house). But Sylvia's a good friend, and she was basically my only friend during a time when nobody else at school would speak to me, she's the friend I've kept in touch with for longest, and I am glad she's found someone to make her happy, and I knew she'd be hurt if I didn't turn up.
I can't do gossip-column-style wedding writeups. The bride was, as expected, beautiful. Perfect hair, perfect dress, and she even managed to stay looking great after a turn on the bouncy castle (which had been installed to keep the hordes of kids entertained). The groom was effortlessly being nice to everybody, looking stunning, *and* keeping track of things like where people were, when the band was turning up, and so on. But then, he is a professional actor.
I cried buckets when the happy couple (weddings lend themselves to clichés, I'm afraid) did their first dance, and was only cheered up by Sylvia's teenage cousin, who said "The early bird may catch the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese." It took me till today to work out what he actually meant (I'm slow on the uptake) but the sheer randomness of it (and the mock-seriousness with which he said it) made me giggle at the time.
Sylvia was glad to see me there, anyway, and I did have a chance to talk to her briefly. (It's funny; you go to a wedding to celebrate the happiness of a good friend, and it's probably the occasion on which you see the *least* of them. Perhaps the bride and groom should just say "look, you lot all go and have a party, we'll have some peace and quiet, and afterwards we can all get on with being friends and talking to each other and stuff".)
Anyway, all the awkward bits (not knowing anybody, etc.) were as awkward as I expected. I tried to have a conversation with the only other schoolmate who was there, who has become bland beyond belief; after about 20 minutes of excruciatingly dull small talk we were both feeling awkward, and when she and her boyfriend drifted away to another group of people I didn't make any attempt to follow them. Mostly I just sat and watched as groups of strangers talked, laughed, and drank. There's only so
long I can do that.
Just as I was thinking of leaving, a lad I'd known from school (well, from the boys' school, the brother-school to ours) turned up. He barely recognised me, and could hardly believe that I was actually me (if you see what I mean) as I'd "changed so much". I asked him how I'd changed, and he said "You've lost so much weight... and it's the first time I've seen you smile." I suppose it was a compliment, if a sort of backhanded one... was I really that bad at school? I guess I probably was. We talked for a bit, and I think he might have been half-heartedly flirting with me, but the last thing I wanted at that point was an awkward liaison with somebody I vaguely remembered from high school. I flirted back as much as was polite, no more, and accidentally forgot to say goodbye or exchange meaningless we-must-meet-up-sometimes when I slipped away.
I wonder how many other people from school only remember me as a fat ugly goth. Well, my female peers at least remember me as a pretentious poet as well; the image wouldn't really be complete without that.
I don't mean to sound bitter. I'm honestly not. It's rather reassuring, really; we all ossify as caricatures of ourselves in each other's fading memories, and I can think of worse spaces to fill in the gallery of stereotypes.
 The invitation said something along the lines of "There's no wedding list, but we're saving towards travel & home improvements, and any donations would be welcome". Which sounded to me like "please just give us money instead of Stuff". So I thought, well, I'll give them money, even though I really don't like doing that, and do a hand-made card. And then I thought I'd better get some sort of token Stuff as well as the money, so I got them a classy-but-simple vase and filled it with nice chocolates. Then I had complete stress over making the card, and couldn't produce anything that didn't just look like the sort of handmade cards you buy in Paperchase etc. which all look the bloody same, and I avoided it and avoided it and had to do it all at the last minute, & it ended up looking okay, but I could have done something better if I'd started earlier. And then when I got there it turned out that everybody had brought actual presents anyway, and the money I'd put in the card (which wasn't actually very much money) now seems a bit crap, and the token present even more crap, & I just feel grotty about the whole thing.
After the wedding I decided I needed to restore my sanity, and as I was halfway to Oxford anyway (the reception was in Catthorpe, just off the M1/A14 junction) I thought I might as well nip over there and invite myself round for toast and tea with J-P and Kate. Who are lovely, and managed to make me feel human again, even though they are turning into marriedpeople as well.
11:30 would have been a sensible time to drive home, so instead (I'm not renowned for doing the sensible thing) I dropped in on another Oxford friend & ended up staying for a much longer coffee than intended. Finally got home at about 3:30am.
It's funny, a year or so ago I was still quite nervous about Long Journeys and Driving On Motorways. Now I think of a 100-mile round trip in the middle of the night as a perfectly reasonable detour to see friends. Still, this is one of the reasons why I wanted a car -- so that I could put people before places/circumstances, and so that I could go and get the things that wouldn't come to me.