Anxiety sometimes feels like child labor.
Not literally, but figuratively.
There’s pain, waiting, more pain, more waiting, and nervousness and fear and disbelief.
Especially disbelief, you can never quite believe that it’s happening when it’s happening. It takes a long time afterward before you accept that it was real. Because, you know, it could have been a dream or something.
It was still sweltering hot. Even at 10:15 at night, my armpits and middle back were feeling damp. Which just increased my anxiety.
I didn’t sit down. The bench looked dirty, I mean whose job is it to clean bus stop benches? No one’s, that’s right, which means that lonely bench had been sat on by thousands of butts and pooped on by thousands of birds and I was not about to sit on it and mess up my white dress.
Oh, yeah, I was in my wedding dress. Standing. In the heat. At 10:15 at night. At a bus stop not waiting for a bus. And I had one suitcase and a beaded bag. And I wore gloves, little, lace white ones, because I’m a stupid romantic and I wanted this whole picture, this 1930’s “let’s get married before you go off to war” picture of us. So in love we couldn’t stand it.
Which we were, obviously. In love, I mean. But it wasn’t forbidden, it wasn’t secret, I wasn’t pregnant and running from my over-bearing father. He wasn’t a convict or a captain with a 42-hour leave. Neither of us were fugitives of any kind. In fact, I had stood in this exact spot hundreds of times, waiting for a bus, because in fact, I had been born and raised in this town.
But that stupid romantic part of me made up a whole different story. One of tragedy, hardship, unbidden love that wasted away for years and was only communicated through letters left in a squirrel hole in a tree with initials on it. And then—sudden, passionate, rash elopement and a lifetime of bliss!
That’s who I thought I was, standing there, sweating at 10:15 at night. And, I suppose, that is who I was.
What I hadn’t considered, apparently, was who I was waiting for.
We did the whole she-bang. The proposal, the ring, the wedding planning and announcing and oogling and spending all my daddy’s money. We had flowers and éclairs and a stupid, embroidered pillow for my random kid neighbor to carry our rings on. But I had this feeling. Foreboding, I guess, if anyone uses that kind of word anymore. Mostly, I woke up at 2:30 in the morning, puked, went back to bed, and later when my alarm clock (mother) went off, I called him and said, “let’s go.” And then I took all day to stare in the mirror at myself, put on my wedding dress, and there we go. At a bus stop. Waiting—not for a bus, for someone to elope with.
I hoped it was my fiancé, but at that point, I’d take anyone.
Funny place, bus stops. They’re really deserted when there are no buses scheduled for the next eight hours. I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t waited like that.
But that’s all I gained from this sudden, passionate, rash elopement. Because I waited, anxiously, and then realized that I shouldn’t be anxious, I should already know. I should know that he’d be there.
And I didn’t.
So I left.