Growing up, Porter and I always said we wanted to get married in Italy. We’re both Italian, love everything Italian, and felt like a destination wedding was the kind of wedding we should have: something that was an experience for every guest, a whirlwind weekend that after-the-fact would kind of feel like a dream, and that, in its grandeur, would properly reflect the ten-year build up from that first day we started dating to that at-the-altar moment.
The first time we talked about getting married, I think I was all of fifteen, and the weirdest thing looking back on that is that it wasn’t weird at all. There weren’t any sub-thoughts going on like, “Oh my gosh, Porter must really like me,” or, “It’s so weird that he’s bringing this up,” it kind of was just mutually understood that we would arrive at this point someday, and that, when we did, that point would be located somewhere in Tuscany or on the coast (depending on which one of us you asked). So, yes, when we got engaged last month wedding planning wasn’t a completely unexplored topic, and we thought knew exactly what we wanted. There’s the key word: thought.
So, a few weeks ago in Greece, just a few days after we got engaged, we slowly got around to planning. We started to talk about the sort of things we might want and the sort of things we definitely would not want, and about halfway through these conversations we would drop them to go swimming or to go downtown or to eat lunch, which seems normal enough for any other couple on vacation, but that should have been a red flag from the start.
Porter and I are both creatively-wired, we come up with about a dozen (mostly bad) ideas weekly and can deconstruct them for over an hour, (or over 3 hours if it’s something we’re really excited about). We like to talk things out, and we’re both pretty visual, which is why I already know exactly what our dream kitchen will look like, and why Porter paused the TV yesterday to talk for 20 minutes about why Bloodline makes the cameraman’s hands shake during intense scenes. If we drop a topic halfway through it’s usually because we’re disinterested or can’t seem to visualize what we’re talking about. In this case, we eventually realized it was both. Every time we discussed anything about Italy, I could picture a wedding but it was never our wedding. I could flip through magazines or head onto Pinterest, pointing out details I loved and kind of meshing them all together in my mind, but the finished product always felt like someone else’s dream, like I was planning for a friend or a sibling. To make matters worse, I felt completely emotionally uninvolved in that wedding, which was quietly making me pretty anxious. Until I figured out why.
Most of the past 6 years, our relationship has been defined by future-focused thinking. When you’re long distance, especially across two countries, you talk and think constantly about the next time you’re seeing each other, how many days away it is, and the time you’ll see each other after that. If you’re not careful, your life can take on the feeling of just getting through point A to point B, versus enjoying the present between them. I think Porter was a lot better at avoiding that than I was, and though I think it’s completely dramatic to say you can have PTSD from having been long-distance from someone for a really really long time, I think I might experience a teeny tiny nuance of that feeling looking back on that stage of life.
Only in the past year and half, since I moved back to Boston, has my world kind of re-shifted into being entirely in-the-moment. We’re so busy now most days that I don’t really worry about what’s happening next week or even tomorrow. We’re here and now, and we’re happy that way. But then we found ourselves caught up planning something a whole year away, and I think my brain kind of hit the brakes at having that concentrate-on-this-far-away-date mentality reintroduced. I was quietly absorbing the reality that our traveling the world year, a year meant to be as absolutely in-the-moment as possible, would contain a lot of late nights pulling us out of that bubble, and kind of disallowing us from fully giving ourselves to that in-the-now thinking. I wasn’t enthusiastic about that, and fortunately, Porter was quietly experiencing the same reservations.
So, I waited for him to get home from work one day, and decided I would just blurt out what I was thinking and, depending on how he reacted, I would know if I was crazy or not. At first, he did think I was crazy, but slowly, as I explained my reasoning (through tears), he noticed that all the things that had been bothering me (and him) were resolved by this new plan, a plan to not get married a year later in Italy, but to change the date of what was going to be our engagement party to our wedding day. After years of living a relationship that was defined by waiting for the day to come when we’d actually live in the same place, we just didn’t want that waiting-feeling associated with what would be one of the happiest days of our lives. We went home the next day, sat down our parents, held our breath, and were shockingly met by “this is absolutely doable,” instead of the “this is absolutely not happening.” And so, we’re getting married in 6 weeks (August 12th, to be exact).
Our busy days have turned into impossibly busy days, and our long checklists are even longer, but even in the tornado of things to get done, this weight has strangely been lifted. We’re a whole lot calmer about this planning stage, and we’re able to concentrate on just getting done what we can today. Strangely enough, as soon as we realized we wanted to get married on Porter’s property, and walked through the woods behind his house and chose exactly where to have the ceremony, we knew exactly what we wanted down to every detail; it was like the lights went up on that formerly blank visual as soon as we decided we were going to have the wedding we really wanted (funny how God works that way). And even though it won’t be in Italy, and lots of people have weddings at their family’s houses, and lots of people choose to get married locally, it took us shamefully long to realize that no matter where your wedding is, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where it happened, but who’s surrounding you and the feeling of being there. Kind of like life.
Anna Lisa & Porter