I still choose you.
Sometimes I look at my wedding photo and I don’t recognise the bride smiling back at me.
And I suspect she wouldn’t recognise me either.
She’s 34. I’m 42.
That woman in the photo? She gets eight hours of sleep per night.
I average 5.
She goes to the gym every day. Casually strolls around Asian grocery stores looking for things like Shaoxing Rice Wine and Gai Lan. She goes to the movies A LOT. And out to dinner on a whim. And RSVPS ‘yes’ to book launches and housewarmings. That woman in the photo with the shining, happy eyes and the pretty beaded dress? She’s never really experienced heartbreak or loss. She reads books and meditates and just ten days before this photo was taken was drinking martinis in a bar on 31st Street in New York. I can see in her face the hopefulness for her future with her new husband. She’s carefree and happy and hold the phone: I don’t think she even knows what Spanx are. WHAT. THE. HELL?
Since that photo was taken I’ve had four children. I’ve moved house six times. I’ve cooked more fish fingers than I care to think about. I’ve been blindsided by a tragedy that brought me to my knees. I’ve fallen deeply, madly in love with my children and yet fantasised about escaping to a hotel alone. I don’t run anymore or walk – I rush. I wear flat shoes and maxi dresses and loose flowing tops to hide my stomach. And I write down the names of reliable babysitters the way I used to scribble down the titles of new books to read.
Our lives are so different. And sometimes I look at that girl in the frame and I miss her. And really it’s not her life that I miss (well, okay yeah sometimes I do really, really miss that old life). But what I really miss is who I was back then, on that day. How I felt. So if I could go back and recreate that day when that photo was taken – my wedding day – I would. I SO would. In a heartbeat.
And it’s not about the dress (which was not even a wedding dress. It was a pretty cream beaded dress I bough off the rack in a little clothing shop). It’s not about being a princess for a day as I’m not the princess type. It’s not about the hair and the makeup and the attention.
It’s because on that day I gave myself over to joy. One hundred percent. I wasn’t thinking about mortgage payments or worrying about who was going to pick Ava up from drama or whether or not Quincy or Fin has a cold. I didn’t know about Facebook status updates and Twitter trolls didn’t exist.
It was a day that was just about Brad and me – the two of us. It was about how we felt about each other and how in love – how full of hope – we were. It was a time when we were each the centre of the other’s world. When we were excited about the adventure that lay ahead.
Our wedding day was the most marvellous, magical day. And THAT’S what I want to recapture.
There were lanterns swinging in the breeze. And sixty of our favourite people were with us on that rooftop under a beautiful piercing blue sky. Stevie Wonder’s feel-good tunes filled the air. My childhood friends Katie and Nic stood by my side. Cocktails and champagne flowed. My dad gave me away. My mum looked the most beautiful she had ever been.
And I swirled around that rooftop like a spinning top talking and laughing and dancing with Brad and our friends.
We were giddy with joy.
I know you can’t go back in time. Nor would I want to.
But I would like to go back to that rooftop, with the lanterns and the music and all our family and friends and I would like to look at Brad and say, “I still choose you. Despite everything. Because of everything. I still choose you. Let’s dance.”
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.