Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Dried up grapes

I've never really understood weddings. 

Or I should say: I understand weddings (obviously: it's the legal joining of two people in the eyes of God), but I've never really understood the point of them. Love can't be told what to do: it goes where it likes, and the freedom to leave again if it wants to is as important as allowing it the space to turn up in the first place. Weddings, for me, have therefore always felt a little like building a cage to put the love in in the hope of keeping it trapped there: by law, by religion, by the amount of money spent on a dress, or just by the embarrassment of sending back all the gifts if it all goes wrong. 

This weekend, however, there was a Smale wedding for the first time in nearly two decades, and no amount of amateur philosophising was going to get me out of wearing a dress and wearing heels and eating fruit-cake. None whatsoever. And believe me, I tried it. I don't like wearing anything pretty, I don't like being six foot tall, and I don't like raisins very much, so I pretty much gave it everything I had: love theories, religion theories, architecture theories, fashion theories. All my best theories, I gave it. It didn't work.
"You're starting to sound bitter," my mum eventually said.
"Ha!" I laughed. 
"That sounds bitter," she pointed out. "Somebody will marry you one day," she added distractedly, patting me on the shoulder. "Probably. If you start taking your dirty crockery through to the kitchen when you're finished with it, instead of leaving it on the floor in the living room."
"Don't care anyway," I grumbled, climbing into the backseat of the car. "Weddings are crap."

I was wrong. (I'm wrong far, far more often than I'm right, and there's a certain satisfaction in knowing I can believe in my own convictions as whole heartedly as I like, because the chances are they'll be short-lived.) This wedding was not crap. This wedding, in fact, felt a lot like a big party full of all the people I love most in the world. A big party, with a big free bar and a very sunny balcony to smoke cigarettes on with my cousins at fifteen minute intervals, even though it made all the grown ups cross. And that's not crap, no matter how frilly your dress is.

It wasn't until I got home and started piecing and editing together the video, however, that I started to see - maybe - what all of the fuss was about. In making the little film for my aunt (who couldn't be there), I had to concentrate on the expressions of the people I care about, and I had to really focus on the tiny gestures they made: the hands on shoulders, and the wobble of lips, and the grins I don't think I've ever seen that big. I had to watch my Aunt and Uncle look the happiest I've ever seen them look, over and over again. Which made me wonder if maybe I was even more wrong than I thought I was. Marriage, after all, balances everything out. We get the people we love together to mark the beginning of a life and the end of a life, so it's only right and natural that we get them together to celebrate the happiest part of a life: even if that apparently requires cake made entirely out of dried up grapes. 

Watching the faces of my family - both those who were saying vows and those who were not - it was suddenly clear that a wedding is not about two people celebrating love, but all of us; and it isn't about trapping it, but giving it a cheer as it goes past. 

I still wouldn't say that I'm a massive fan of weddings or marriage, but I think I'll be clearing up my breakfast bowl in the mornings now, just in case.