Yesterday my relationship ended. It was the latest of many, and in that moment my whole life appeared to me like one of those clumsy days when you break everything you touch. One minute it's there – solid, cherished – the next a collection of shards and perilous bits on the floor. Mind where you tread. Get the dustpan. Put it back.
No actually, leave it out. You might as well.
When I hit the red telephone symbol on my mobile to end The Conversation – reluctantly because his voice still soothed me – I remained sitting in my car at the Auckland Domain. It was a beautiful day. The sun did what the sun does, it blazed and was annoyingly cheerful, like that stranger on the street: 'Come on love, give us a smile'. I will not give you a smile, can't you see I am busy being in pain?
What had gone wrong? What had I said, or done? How could I change, to make sure this works the next time? Next time, ha. Will there be a next time? Shouldn't I just take the hint, adopt another cat, and resign myself to solitude? Should I spend a few years 'working on myself' before I tackle my next romantic Everest? Oh shut up and get out of the car.
I opened the door, swivelled around in my very clingy dress, stood up, took a deep breath and headed towards the bandstand. To a wedding.
I wanted to stride across the grass… proud, defiant. But my choice of clothing and high heels obliged me to take farcical pin steps. Just when I wanted to be a lioness, I had to mimic the gait of a dachshund.
The rotunda was filling with people. As I got nearer, I spied an ex. Yes another one. They litter my history – ex, ex, ex, ex, ex, ex, ex – a long line of cold kisses.
'Okay, you can do this,' I told myself. Lights, camera, action. And… I chatted to a few estranged friends, or rather a version of me did, taking care to give the ex a wide berth. Suddenly an eruption of applause and we all turned to see the happy couple, Ru and Roxy, approaching. My sadness melted. No, not melted. Scuttled away, embarrassed. It had no place here.
Ru and Roxy met when Ru was trying to figure out who she was, and how to express her 'boy' side. Ru had been looking to hook up with a woman at the time. Instead she'd come across Roxy (aka Steve), a cross dresser, a normally fairly blokey electrician with a strong Northern English accent. Roxy was in 'girl mode', and the pair had talked for hours. It was the beginning of a beautiful journey of discovery about each other, and the continuation of a journey of discovery about themselves.
As they approached, we all cheered and whooped. Roxy, stunning in an electric blue gown with a long mesh skirt over a teensy mini dress – her signature look – showing off her enviably long, toned legs. Vertiginous sparkly heels of the same colour as the dress. Long blond wig, curled for the occasion. Ru – now manifesting as her male self, Rufus – her hair cropped short and red, at once pretty and handsome in a three-piece suit. Both radiating more cheer than the sun, and not the least bit annoying.
The ceremony was presided over by celebrant 'Jas' – formerly Ian, but who now cuts a striking figure as a stylish and very fine-looking woman. Ru got out her vows, written on a sheet of paper. "Bread, cereal, washing powder… oops wrong bit of paper!" We all laughed far more loudly than the joke merited. But we were infected with the silliness of absolute love. At the end of her vows Ru turned to Roxy and said, "I love you Steve. I love you Roxy".
A lady in a burgundy dress spoke about how falling in love is always just about accepting each other's weirdness. Ru cried a little, Roxy looked coy and beautiful.
We arrived at the pub for the reception, and after food and drinks there were speeches. I don't like speeches; often, by their very rehearsed nature, they lack authenticity. Not here. No one had notes.
Ru's elderly, frail father stood up and said he knew, early on, Ru had always been a boy and expressed his absolute joy to see this day. Ru's two grown-up daughters spoke with pride of their amazing mother, and how delighted they were to see her finally be who she is.
"She is the best woman I have ever met," said one. Some expressed their gratitude to Ru and Roxy, part of a wider community who have helped each other along their paths of self-discovery and sexual authenticity.
Ru talked of her ex-husband, who had seen her struggling with her sexuality and gender, and encouraged her to be herself.
There was music, and cake, and – it being May 4 – there were mini 'May the Fourth be with You' light sabers you could bend like straws. We fashioned them into necklaces and glowing antenna to stick in our hair as we danced – and it was only later Ru explained to me their deeper significance: may you celebrate the power within, and harness it to be yourself. There was hugging and glass-clinking and a lot of laughter. So yes, this was a wedding, but it was also so much more than that.
Not just the union of two awesome people who love each other – bristles, hormones, baggage and all. It was the affirmation of a truth I already knew, but one I really needed to be reminded of, on this day of all days. That love, real love, sees the person within. It is utter acceptance, it is delighting in each other's 'weirdness'. It is helping someone come home to themselves when they can't find the way back.
Of course, away from the all-encompassing joy of the wedding, I remain deeply sad. But I know now I did nothing wrong. Said nothing amiss. Wasn't too needy or too aloof. I was myself, and he didn't want me, and that is that.
Of course I can be a better person. We can all improve a little. But I don't buy that 'spend a fortune on counselling and self-help books and yoga classes, and only then go out and look for love'. That somehow implies that we are not enough as we are, that rejection had a reason, and that reason was somewhere inside you.
I will continue to look for love. I may never find it; though I really hope I do. And if I ever get married again, I want to be surrounded by people like Ru and Roxy who have refused to erase their true selves in order to fit someone else's idea of 'perfect'.
Here's to the Rus and the Roxys of the world. To weirdness. And to never giving up.
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