I'm making bouquets for a wedding. Origami roses, individually folded, doubly taped, paper-scented. Bouquets, signs, posters, post-cards, programs, bows, flower petals for the flower girl. I've got this. But I more-than-secretly love arts and crafts. I'm probably enjoying all of the hullabaloo more than I let on: It's the romanticism of it all. And the age-old J. Lo aspirations. But all this wedding prep is also completely horrifying for the 21 year old body that I inhabit.
See, there comes a time where the brain and body collide.
I have always been eager to age. As a child, I took on adultish responsibilities with what I hope was grace but was certainly confidence. I have always been rather self-sufficient. I have always had an old-soul. And I, like the gender line I hopscotch on, dream about getting married and the life that will follow.
But I am only 21. and, as a brand-new twenty-sometthing, I've decided I would like to slow down time, as much as possible. This whole wedding-thing seems counterintuitive.
Not only that but the idea of marriage has become somewhat painful for me. I fear endings. I lost the notion that love conquers all somewhere between my first tooth falling out in an apple and my mother crying (these events go unrelated). I want to tell you that making paper flowers is a metaphor for the way that love is fragile and easily crumpled. But that feels too jaded, even for me.
So instead, I will tell you that-if this were my wedding- I would write love notes on the inside of every petal. Secret vows, unending promises, inside jokes. I would fill the flower girl's basket with heart-shaped candy, so that every last moment could be sweet, and I would embrace the impermanence. Because nothing truly gets to last forever. But I would be willing to bet on a happy now.
Plus, paper flowers are more permanent than actual flowers. Paper may crumple, but it doesn't wilt. It also covers rock. And welcomes scribbles.
But, wedding decorator that I've become, I've never actually been to a wedding. Given my current thoughts on weddings, too, I'm completely petrified. For reasons I won't tell the internet, I'm awaiting this wedding with baited breath, unsure if I will laugh or cry, when the bride walks down the aisle. Either, I've decided can be masked as joy, however. And I'm a big fan of masks, in moments like that.
In the Jewish religion, once you write the Lord's name on paper, that paper has become holy and can never be destroyed. I used to follow that religiously (pun intended) bothering myself with hyphenated three-letter words, but then I stopped. My feelings didn't change so much as the idea that holding onto scraps of paper protected them, If that were true, my pack-rat tendencies would make me chief-paper-protector. if that were true, all of the notes my mom ever put in my elementary school lunch box, that now hide at the bottom of the Cinderella jewelry box she gave me when I became a big sister, would be the bible. And maybe to me they are. In the age of the Kindle, I hold tight to my library card, because paper is our most powerful resource. Our pens are mightier than our swords.
I leave the people I love notes. I send postcards. While I don't think the material things make a person happy, I do think there's something to tangible love. If I can't touch you, it's nice to touch something that made you think of me. Or makes me think of you.
One of the bedroom walls is covered in pages of Harry Potter novels. The whole wall: Floor to ceiling. It was a poor man's wallpaper, at first, but it quickly became something I love. The infinite, sprawling, severed storyline that once defined my childhood and now caries a slight blue tint from the gypsy window treatments. I put the wall up with the promise that pulling it down would be easy. And I get the feeling that it will soon be ripped down. I don't really mind: The paper comes from a time different from this one. I put up that wall back in December and I'm pleased to report that I will never go back to the way last December lingered on my tongue.
This December will be better.
This is an important distinction to make: Nothing is permanent. Not even the way our months feel. Or the way they taste, months later.
Maybe, once we tear down J. K Rowling, we can begin to fill the wall with our story. Write each word in permanent marker; cautious to write something so beautiful that we could spend the rest of our lives aspiring to it.
Maybe that's the trick to paper: It begins as a tree. As it ages, the tree forms more rings. Rings like promises. Rings like roundabout growing pains. Rings like "I do." When they yell "Timber!" at the tree, I imagine it would scrunch up its face like I do on a roller coaster. When it becomes paper; dyed, flattened, blended, it takes each ring with it. Carrying years of sunshine and falling leaves. The lucky paper becomes fancy novels or New York Times bestsellers. The lucky paper gets seen by more eyes than it ever imagined. The lucky paper gets put up on walls or written in on the margins and shared. Or sent as letters overseas- or even to someone in the next room.
It gets loved. Like bouquets. And weddings. And the moments we are awake for.
So as the wedding looms closer, my next move is staring me right in the eye and I'm not sure what to do. But I will have to grit my teeth and do something, relishing in the fact that nothing here is permanent but, if we want to, we can keep holding on.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal. Married to my best friend and planning a lifetime of adventure!