One of my favorite pizza joints in San Mateo has this sign next to the register. It’s worded in a rather impolite, unapologetic kinda tone, basically saying that good food takes time. If you want fast, go elsewhere for that shit.
This weekend, J and I were in Atlanta for my college roommate’s wedding. In undergrad, we were really close. We roomed together for three years, and during the summers away from campus, we wrote each other regularly. She’s the one who showed me how to make my own stationery envelopes out of magazine pages. After college, things changed. She went to med school, then entered residency. She was in the AirForce too, so she moved around every two or thee years. Life was especially hectic and busy for her. Whenever we got a chance to catch up, there were tons of new names, new stories, new travels to keep straight. Her personality seemed to evolve over time too. In college, she was often very last minute and up to the wire. Now, she was an uber planner: shit was plotted meticulously. Perhaps being a physician demanded this.
Throughout the years, she had numerous relationships. She fell in love easily, and this tempestuous and exciting lifestyle seemed quite glamorous to me. But by our early to mid-30s, I could sense that the routine was wearing on her. The dating, the mismatches, the creeps, the jerks, the nice guys who bored her… I felt her frustration, and I myself couldn’t understand the unfairness in all of this. I mean, how was this gem continually being overlooked? She was smart, assertive, self sufficient, funny, warm, fun… why was her love life such a series of misses? The experience exhausted her and sometimes she would take a break, but invariably, she would get back on the wagon and try again with renewed conviction. Maybe these are the moments when you understand that there is no real choice except to move forward. And voila! Two years ago, she met her match. And what a match S is. When you see the two of them together, the chemistry is palpable. They really complement each other well.
When I received the wedding invitation a year or so ago and discovered it was a destination wedding in Atlanta, a part of me hesitated. I wondered whether it would really matter if J and I attended. After all, Y and I had mostly lost touch. With some friends, you lose touch and as soon as you meet again, things are just like old times. With Y, I saw her a few years ago, and while we were certainly comfortable, we never quite recaptured that same level of magic and intimacy that we shared in college. Thinking about why, maybe there were things in the past that were said, things that were done, maybe there were aspects of being roommates for three years that just kind of weakened the relationship. I don’t really know. People change and evolve. Friendships ebb and flow. Regardless, I eventually decided that this event was the culmination of a very long and arduous journey for her. She had finally found love, and I really wanted to celebrate this special day with her.
The party was a huge bash. She’s Puerto Rican. He’s Egyptian. Enough said, right? Friday night, there was a mix and mingle-style dinner at a rooftop restaurant. Saturday night was the ceremony, reception, and dance party. The setting was a swanky hotel downtown, with a terrace nestled among skyscrapers. Awesome. Sunday was brunch. An entire weekend affair. We met her baby boy too, whom she had just birthed four months ago. Monster baby. I mean, I don’t know that much about child development, but last week, I’d just visited my friend, whose baby is 14 months, and Y’s kid is about that size. He looked so heavy hanging in her skinny arms and against her tiny body. But he was very cutely dressed in a tuxedo onesie, and he was impressively well-behaved. There were about 350 guests. We spent most of the evening with our fellow dorm mate, M. Good times.
Now, I’m on the flight home. And I’m thinking about the journey of finding the right person/job/place/anything. I don’t necessarily think work is at the same level of importance as a partner, but it’s still up there. I met a lot of power players at the wedding: ER surgeons. Dentists. Lawyers. Corporates. The comparison game happens like clockwork. Even though I anticipate the reaction and the pitfall, the response is automatic, practically innate. I’m broken, ordinary, lost, unwanted, unskilled, utterly uncompelling. I know these thoughts do not serve me. I know they are self-destructive. But I am overwhelmed, feeling like I am the only person who has not figured out her life, who has not gotten her shit together. I try my best to pick myself up from feeling broken and insufficient. John always kisses me and tells me not to worry. He claims I’m a late bloomer. One day I will shine. I want to believe, but most days, I don’t. Or most days, I do only briefly… and then I don’t.
I think about Y and her decade plus-long journey searching for love. At times, she was exasperated. She had her self-doubts, she questioned what was wrong with her. But in the end, she forged ahead and continued to push for what she wanted. Persistence, faith, and conviction. The pot of gold was there at the end of the rainbow.
Maybe Windy City Pizza is right: good food takes time. If you can’t embrace the process and demonstrate some fucking patience, go eat that frozen Mama Celeste shit. I know, my mind works in bizarro ways. Pizza, marriage, job hunting. It’s all related!