In the beginning it was the Ferris wheel. I thought we would stand underneath it, in t-shirts and jeans. I would have a borrowed veil and a bouquet of daisies picked from the parking lot and I would still be in the employee group that had chaperones and curfews, but it would be dusk and a minister would read important, solemn words to us. We would nod, the available carnies who witnessed would loiter and smoke cigarettes and tear up sightly. Then we would repeat the words and share a kiss and then climb into a bucket and go for a spin just as the lights came on for the evening. At the top when the wheel stops we would have a longer kiss and then Lochlan would hold my hand for the rest of his life when I fall asleep and when I'm awake too. I would do what he tells me and be the best wife ever, making him pies in the camper by the sea while he sang love songs in so many languages I stopped trying to keep up with him when I turned ten.
It changed briefly in Atlantic City when I had this rocketing vision of us exchanging hurried vows behind the circus tent that weren't touching or legal but functioned as a permanent escape from the paths we'd chosen by mistake, in haste. It would be witnessed by the dwarves and the strongman and the snake charmer and the fortune teller too (though she never liked me either, none of them ever liked me and I never found out why) and then we would come home and somehow find a way to make it legal. I'd wear my satin assistant costume and Loch would wear his top hat and tails or maybe his skintight black fire-breather tank or his athletic gear from the ropes, depending on where in the day it was, and I wouldn't have a bouquet but I have tattooed wildflowers so good enough and a ring would be from a client's cigar from a private show and we would go dancing in the empty bar down the street to the same eighties jukebox selection we've always danced to. Maybe we'd spend a day's pay on a dinner at the steakhouse first. Maybe I would change my name. Maybe we'd get better billing and could quit with the fucking freakshow if we rebranded as a team inside the tent. Maybe someone will take us seriously now, because we're salt and pepper, yin and yang, thunder and lightning.
It shifted once more two years ago when they took a collective chance the morning after Daniel and Schuyler tied the knot so tight it happily chokes them into submission. Suddenly the moment has been orchestrated for me and I have no choices at all. The dress, packed without my knowing is a simple form fitting lace shift. Palest pink to be almost white, sleeveless and square-necked and freezing cold standing on a beach on a foggy October morning with the seagulls wailing quietly and the waves lapping against the rocks. The hemlocks close in around me and I look for the garish decorations, the lights, the noise that makes me feel at home but there isn't any of that, everything is slate, muted and refined. So far beyond what I am that I feel out of place and costumed. Sam stands just in front of the water. The tide is going out. He holds Jacob's bible in one hand and smooths his curls down around his ears with his other hand. His tie knot is backwards. He's barely got a hold on his composure. I watch their faces and I try and focus on the sound of the water and I try to pay attention. I try to be present for this because this is important but also because I feel like I am marking the beginning of the end of something else. I just don't know what yet. I don't even know if it's good or bad. I don't know what it feels like to want something and get it but not on my own terms. I want to run this show and I'm not qualified to do so.
But neither are they.