Sunday, February 24, 2008

Part V: The Engagement

We were only engaged three months.

We had originally discussed marrying in January. But somehow, in the crash course whirlwind dating ride up to engagement, he had convinced me that his bishop agreed he could go to the temple as early as November and then October. And eventually, September was agreed upon as practical since it was before school started again.

I don't remember telling my parents we were engaged. It was over the phone and shortly before I drove home for the summer. It wasn't a lengthy discussion but I'm sure the conversation that took place immediately after I hung up was and it was likely bordering on panic. I know my mother lamented her inability to immediately yank me out of the situation and ship me off on some exotic study abroad program far, far away. My parents cautioned me many times that summer but ultimately they supported me.

Mitch's parents were a different story. I remember standing in Mitch's living room with his mother scurrying around straightening things up, barely focusing on her son as he summoned the courage to make our announcement. When he dropped the bomb - we're getting married! She finally stopped, turned around and said "you're kidding." He had to convince her that we were serious and she barely managed a congratulations before telling us September was a better time than October for housing reasons.

I did not take her lack of support as anything negative about me. Instead, it further solidified my urge to protect and rescue Mitch from his own family. He once described his parents attitude toward their 9 children as something to the effect of only loving the "good" ones and dismissing the ones who made mistakes (such as him). He genuinely felt like a cast off and I saw it in their attitude toward him many times. I saw how much he was working to be accepted by them again by going to church, going to institute and following the pattern of his "good" older brothers by getting married in the temple. But they resisted accepting that he had truly changed and I don't think they ever believed he was capable of change.

My parents had the misfortune of knowing their daughter was making a terrible mistake but supported her anyway. They were not in a financial position to throw a wedding and they were not in the emotional position to cope with throwing a wedding for what they fore-saw as a doomed marriage. In retrospect I admire my mother for her willingness to give me everything she could despite the fact it was breaking her heart.

Luckily I had never focused on a wedding and had not yet formed any grand ideas of what type of wedding I wanted. My tastes were simple and basic and I was cognizant of our budgetary constraints so I did my best to keep the wedding plans as simple as possible. After one trip to a bridal store I realized wedding dressings were beautiful but far too frou-frou for my tastes so my grandmother volunteered to make my dress. My mother and I selected a simple pattern and fabric - a slightly off-white textured raw silk with a very simple, large-patterned lace for the bodice. I wanted 3/4 sleeves, no train and no bows. My grandmother made my mother's wedding dress (which I outgrew when I was 14) and has since made several others. Regardless of the reason that dress was made, I will always treasure it as a gift from my grandmother who sews like a professional and probably could have given the Project Runway kids a run for their money in her day. I mean, she makes her own jeans - and they look like real jeans! Nothing she has ever made looks home-made. I wish I had inherited an ounce of her sewing talent and creativity. She took the basic pattern selected by my mom and I and combined it with another pattern she had and then used the extra lace to add some remarkable personalized touches and against all my wishes added a bow in the back that actually finished the dress off beautifully.

A day or two before the wedding we had our final fitting and I urged her to pull the darts in a bit more on the bodice because from the side the dress was making me completely flat despite my new miarcle bra from Victoria's Secret that just didn't seem to be pulling off the miracle I was hoping for. Exasperated with my pestering, she finally threw her hands in the air, shook her head and told me she couldn't create what nature hadn't given me. And three generations of not-so-well endowed women with the same middle name laughed their similar laughs together.

My mother did the bulk of the errand running, the bulk of the budgeting and the bulk of the stressing over her eldest child's upcoming marriage that summer. I spent most of my time sulking and pining. I was separated from Mitch by a drive of over three hours and expensive long distance phone calls. We drove back and forth to see each other on weekends and I overlooked the incredible amount of type-os in the handful of emails he managed to write to me.

I worked, went to the gym and planned my wedding and counted the days to when I would see Mitch. Unlike what I imagine would be the purpose of working out if I were to suddenly get engaged in my current physical condition, I was not looking to lose weight. In fact, I vividly remember wanting to reach 130 pounds because I thought that would be the indicator I was gaining more muscle. I was probably somewhere in the vicinity of 125 pounds. I say this not to brag but as a measure for later in the story when this comes in as a factor.

The summer of my engagement wasn't perfect. It was full of arguments with my mother, with my siblings and with Mitch. Mitch and I didn't argue a lot when we were dating. There wasn't much to argue about. But with the stress of being apart and two families constantly voicing their opinions and ideas of how our wedding should be, we cracked. And I usually caved. I was against receiving lines - his parents insisted on it, so we had one. I only wanted one reception in Salt Lake, despite the fact we were getting married in St. George - his mother insisted on having an open house in Cedar City, so we had one.

There were other fights as well. One in particular should have been my warning flag. It centered around a set of keys to my car that had vanished and I was being blamed. His unpredictable, quick-fire temper flared and I should have tossed the ring back in his direction and run as fast as I could back to Salt Lake because that was the first glimpse I had into what my impending marriage would look like.


Beck said...

Oh, this makes my stomach hurt. You poor girl.
Keep writing.

Tiffany said...

Ugh. Keep it coming.

michele said...

it's interesting to hear all the details of this part of your life. since i wasn't in cedar with you guys, i only met mitch a couple of times before you got married. you are a great writer, reading this makes me feel anxious even though i know the outcome.

Dede said...

Hi...I'm Tiffany's sister-in-law and I've been reading your blog the last few days. You are an amazing writer! I'm so enjoying your blog...hope you don't mind!

Soul-Fusion said...

how could I mind with positive comments like that? You are welcome any time.

mickey said...

I am amazed by the love your Mother has for you, and her support even though her heart ached for you. That paragraph moved me.

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