I hold still, and inhale deeply as she zips up the back of the dress. I’m tripping over these heels that aren’t mine, and this dress is too long even with stilettos.
The store is busy as I make way out of the dressing room to the three-way mirrors. My mother and sisters are waiting and the young one excitedly squeals, “it’s so pretty!”
They love it, but I’m staring into the mirror wondering who that girl is. When did she grow up? When did she become old enough to get married?
I used to be 5, with dirty knees and elbows, wearing a white t-shirt that had pink and yellow kites on it. There was an ice cream shop on the corner of our block where sticky fingers touched the glass case and wide eyes always picked Superman ice cream.
At 6, I sat on my grandma’s beautiful, antique green couch and opened the box with my American Girl Doll, Molly. I almost forgot we were leaving my home for a far-away land called Pennsylvania.
I remember third grade playing in a tree fort with my best friend Emily. I picture 11-year-old me, sitting in a 5th grade classroom when my baby sister was born.
My friends’ older siblings got married, and then some of my friends had their own weddings. I was younger, just 16, 18, 21 – not old enough to be married. My turn was far off in the distance.
I turned 23 only just a month ago, but here I am in a gorgeous lacy white dress waiting for my mother’s approval. The bridal consultant tells me how beautiful I am as she pins a veil and other accessories into my hair. Don’t forget, these are 20% off if you get two or more!
I ignore her. I’m too busy thinking – how did I get here?
So many of my friends in college were in a hurry to get married – to settle down at the ripe old age of 22. Flowers. Invitations. The Dress. Honeymoon plans. The weddings blur in my mind.
What I don’t remember hearing was the talk about how surreal it was be getting married. To make that commitment. To spend your entire life with one person. They seemed so sure and confident.
The picture on my desk is from the day he asked me out. Those lazy afternoons on the sunny Malagueta seem like yesterday. That was two years ago? So much has happened. So much has changed.
When did I grow up and become capable of this decision?
Was it in between the moments of learning to budget, find my own church or file a tax return? Or was it when I learned to manage insurance and student loans?
Maybe there never was a defining moment. Maybe it’s been happening all along, and I just never recognized it. Perhaps it’s just because we weren’t ready until April 5 to make that decision.
I’m still staring at my reflection. I’m still not sure when I became that girl – but she can’t hold back that excited little smile.