Six months before the wedding
January 5th 2007
My sister Nicole’s father, Henry Miller, came from old money. His great-great grandfather invented the stop light or some other random, yet uber necessary commodity of life. Now, the Miller family just makes money off their money. Even after his passing, Nicole’s extended family and grandparents always helped my mom take care of Nicole. I was not so lucky.
My father, Anthony Ricardi, was our mothers high school boyfriend, turned fuckbuddy. She was sleeping with him shortly after Henry’s passing to help her grieve. When she got knocked up with me, they had to marry. Before my 1st birthday, they were both cheating on each other.
Even though they were both at fault for the destruction of their marriage, they never ceased to blame one another and drag me into the middle to use as a punching bag to warm up to their fights. Due to their inability to get along and my father’s constant struggle financially, causing him to lapse often on child support, I saw very little of him growing up.
Throughout my life, my dad had done so little for me, that I was in shock when he agreed to pay for half of my wedding. I barely knew the man, but I really looked up to him. Once he married his wife Linda and finally ‘grew up’ as my mom would say. Now he had the kind of life, I always wanted. He had a new, big beautiful home, a loving wife and two perfect kids. His life was so perfect-looking it made me wish I had it. I felt like Paul and I could have that life someday and if we spent more time around him, we could figure out how.
Paul and I had so much in common. Not only did we grow up in the same neighborhood (outside of DC in a little town called Brentwood), and socio-economic class (dirt poor) and we both grew up without a father around. Well, he had no father; I had five. Before I graduated high school, my mother had been married and divorced five times. Paul had attended weddings four, five and six. I knew I did not want to be like her, which is why I was so scared to disappoint my dad and mess up the relationship with the man both Paul and I admired.
The night before my dad’s two-thousand-dollar check came in the mail, Paul and I had a huge fight. I, honestly, can’t even remember what it was about. It had something to do with dishes, or maybe it was the trash. All I remember is that he woke up, still angry that day and left without saying goodbye. What can never be forgotten was what my mom said to me that day in response to said fight and post-fight wedding jitters.
Driving up 295 N, headed to Martins West to deposit the check, sitting in stop-and-slow traffic, I called my mom. When she answered the phone, “Tank you fo callin china foortun” in her silly Chinese accent, I knew she was in a good mood.
“Hey, guess what I have in my hand?” I asked giggling at her goofy greeting.
“A big, black dick?” my mom shocked me with her answer.
“What? No! What the fuck?” I was really confused and slightly amused.
“Did you know that black guys have black dicks?” She asked another bizarre question.
“Yes, mom, I know that. Everyone knows that.” I told her as I wondered why she didn’t know that or more importantly why did now.
“I didn’t!… anyway, what do you have?” She quickly jumped back on point.
“A two-thousand-dollar check from my dad,” I said, nervously because I could never guess what her reaction would be when I brought up my dad. Sometimes she playfully made fun of him and other times, she would go on an hour-long bitch-fest about how bad of a father he was to me. I hoped that because I was telling her something good he did, it would be the former.
“wow! great… he actually came through this time. I’m surprised, but happy for you!” She said, sounding genuinely happy for me, which was rare.
“But… I don’t know… I’m nervous to turn it in. We had a big fight last night and Paul left this morning without saying bye. What if he doesn’t want to marry me anymore? If we cancel the wedding after this, dad loses all of this money, right?”
“Oh, Iza baby… everything will be fine. I promise. Paul loves you.” She stated as a matter of fact.
“but… what if I don’t want to marry him?” I continued.
“you will… look, I’ve done this before… I’m kinda an expert, right? So, you have to trust me on this. Everything will work out fine.”
“I know… But, that’s my point. What if I’m really messed up from all of that and I can’t go through with it. I don’t ever want to get divorced. So, if that means never getting married, I’m okay with that. I mean… being with just one person for your entire life? It’s unrealistic and an ancient tradition started back during a time when the life expectancy was only 50. The chances of us actually being together forever are so small.” I tried to reason my way through my fears.
“Baby… forever doesn’t mean forever-forever… forever just means forever-right-now” she attempted to explain the most confusing logic even for her.
“What? That doesn’t even make sense, mom” I said as I looked for my cigarettes.
“Look… every time I get married, I can honestly tell myself that I want to be with that person ‘forever’ and I know that I mean it at that moment. In that moment, I know I will love them forever. So, forever doesn’t mean forever-forever, it means forever-right-now, get it?”
I was far from understanding her logic, but I assumed that she meant we should get married. But, since I’ve learned to never assume with my mom, I asked anyway, “do you think we’ll get married? That we should get married?”
“Do you love him?” she asked, finally, a simple question.
“Yes,” I answered, relieved.
“Does he love you?” she asked.
“Yes… I think” I was starting to see where she was going.
“Then… that’s all that matter, right? That’s your forever-forever answer right there,” she laughed at herself and her ridiculousness, “but… seriously… forever just means that you both love each other, and you want to be together forever. Everything will be fine, I promise. Everyone knows that you two should be together and everyone knows you’ll get married. You’ve waited long enough and it’s time! okay?”
“okay, thanks” Even though her actual words made little sense, she won the argument, because she was right. We did love each other. He was the love of my life. We grew up together and went from best friends to first loves, living together to now. Of course, we would get married. When I decided, 5 years ago to wait until marriage to have sex, Paul agreed without question. This was especially surprising because he knew I did not want to wait for religious reasons. I explained that I wanted to wait because I didn’t want to end up like my mother, thinking the grass was always greener and what not. This was true, but not the reason.