August 3, 2024

The night before Hilda’s wedding, I took the train to Tuscany where I stayed at a bed and breakfast. After settling in, I went down to the pool to unwind before going back to my room and immediately got into bed. However, I couldn’t sleep knowing that in less than a day, my best friend would be making the biggest step of her life.

As I get older, I realize how important structure and stability are in one’s life. Being young and carefree has its perks, but at this point I’m scared I might not make it. I was never a fan of marriage. The idea just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe it’s because it’s rarely done right and rarely lasts. Relationships are complicated, and I know saying that doesn’t mean much because that’s a well-known fact. After marriage comes hardship. The things we initially love about our partners become the things we hate the most, and it all goes downhill from there. Then again, maybe it’s just my pessimism. I’ve witnessed a lot of couples happily grow old together, but being the skeptical person that I am, I always look for signs that prove that underneath the surface, something isn’t quite right. And oftentimes, it’s true.

Once we’re in the adult world, we are immediately and ruthlessly hit with the harsh challenges of real life. Stuff happen and sometimes they’re random and mean and hurtful which makes us realize nothing ever stays the same, and that structure is just a construct created by humans to navigate through all the chaos. Stability provides a good amount of consistency that supports us both emotionally and psychologically, and I’m starting to believe that finding a partner and settling down might be the right thing to do. After all, everyone does it. A good, supportive family and a stable job seem to be the only answer to a good life; it’s boring but surprisingly effective. I wish there was a definitive codified language to lead a normal and healthy life, some kind of recipe for perfection, but there isn’t. I guess it’s because everyone operates differently. At the end of the day though, the questions remain the same. Whenever I’m in a social gathering, I’m approached and asked if I have a career, am married or own a house as if these things are elements to be checked off a grocery list. The question that people always forget to ask is whether I’m happy or not. I rarely am.

Relationships between friends and partners have almost the same structure; trust, love, care, appreciation and forgiveness. That’s what a strong relationship between two people or more is all about. And when we’re best friends with someone, we are both devoted to one another. When I first met Hilda in high school we hit it off pretty quickly and became best friends by the end our first year together. My friendship with her was one I couldn’t bring myself to end although I’ve often been neglected or felt like a third wheel at various occasions back when we were in school. Still, part of me couldn’t hurt or betray her; I avoided doing anything hurtful even when I felt like I was being pushed away. Maybe it’s because she was special, and real people like her were rare. A lot of things happened behind my back and without my approval or knowledge, but I stayed loyal and maintained our bond. I can’t deny that at times I distanced myself from her and ignored her, but never with bad intention. I either needed time to recover from something she did or was preoccupied with something personal.

Today, one of us got married. Hilda’s wedding took place outdoors, in the beautiful, exotic nature of Florence that overlooked the ocean. As usual, she knew how to make an entrance. Her father walked her down the aisle where her husband, one of the most successful and decent business men in Europe, was waiting for her. The wedding was simple but very nostalgic. Hilda had invited some people from school, Bernhard being one of them. We both reconnected and spent a very pleasant time together. The not so pleasant part though was the fact everyone seemed to have lived whereas me, I was still stuck exactly where I was eight years ago. Sure, things happened throughout those years, but I feel like I’m literally back where I was every time I try to do something new with my life. Everyone at the ceremony was cheerful and filled with energy. Sitting at my table, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop to people’s conversations; they were engaging and purposeful all I wanted was to isolate myself and scream. They were friendly and some tried talking to me, but I was too shy to participate. I never seem to be able to cross this invisible line and allow myself to be part of any conversation.

The emotional roller coaster caused by Hilda’s wedding took a twisted turn when the man behind “our” song took the stage for the newlyweds’ first dance. The song had taken up shelter in the space of my spine ever since we danced to it on prom night. That memory was being replaced by her own and that triggered some toxic thoughts — envy, self-doubt, dread; the fear and jealousy of being easily replaced and forgotten. The bigger frustration was the fact there was no one I could share my inner turmoil with.

Evidently, I know I’m right to not settle while everyone else pairs off and gets married. Hilda just got married and my friend Bernhard recently got engaged to a Spanish girl named Isabella. Me? Looks like I’m better off on my own. Really. I kept looking around wondering if I’m capable of leading a similar life and I know I can’t. There’s no love for me, only sex. And the confirmation to that was when at the end of the ceremony, both Bernhard and Isabella approached me and invited me to a sex party. I knew I was desperate for attention, but was it that obvious?

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