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Bride To Be?
She’s floating down some aisle in a puffy white gown. Everyone is looking up at this woman, as if expecting her to bring joy, to themselves and everyone around her. I see her moving, a blushing bride as she walks towards her future. For a sudden moment she stops, everything is still. Does she really want this?
I place the magazine back on the coffee table and just stare at it. Is this what I really want? What I really want is to be able to have more than this one choice. The one choice I have to conform to, to follow.
I’m twenty-four, I’m studying law because my dad never got to be a lawyer, so, being the daughter that I am I decided to give him his dream. Which, right now, is taking is out the trash.
“Sweetheart can you please hurry up and take out the trash, your sister and Jake should be here any minute.”
I trudged outside in my combat boots, a pair of denim jeans and violet jacket and was about to throw the bag in when a black cat darted past me. It startled me so much that I fell over, and the bag landed right on top of me. As I tried to get up I felt someone lift the bag off of me and say,"Hi, Em how’s my favorite sister-in-law?”
As I got up, I saw Jake standing in front of me in a leather jacket and a pair of dark denim jeans with a bright orange stain. I replied, “I’m your only sister-in-law, and is that what you call dressing up to go to dinner with the in-laws look?” He smirked and said,” Well little sis, you know you have always humored me and I think I look...”
Before he could finish, I heard the front door open, and out walked my mother in her vibrant floral apron and a chain of bright white pearls that hung from her neck, she reminded me of a fifties housewife. She shouted, “Megan! Jake! Em! Hurry up, dinner is going to get cold!”
We all walked back into the house and headed down the long corridor towards the dining room. As we came to a stop I heard my sister say,”Em is going to love this surprise.” I didn’t realize what my sister meant until I saw him. By him I mean my childhood friend Ben who ended up as the snobby son of a very wealthy pharmaceutical CEO. Since his family was very respectable and both Ben and I are very single, our parents decided that it was time for both of us to settle down with one another even though I am and always will be completely opposed to the idea.
He stood there like a love struck idiot as he smiled silly with a giant bouquet of a dozen red roses in his trembling hands.
“Oh great” I said under my breath “Hi Em, your parents told me how much you missed me while you were at school, so I told them how I would not miss the chance of seeing you before you go back to school.” he said loudly as if trying to inform the whole neighborhood. I took the flowers and tried to sit as far away from him as possible.
Unfortunately, Ben decided to switch seats with my sister who had sat right beside me. Before Megan got up, she whispered, “Be nice Em.” I grabbed her wrist playfully and replied, “Aren’t I always.” and she rolled her eyes as she walked away.
As we began to eat, my parents started asking Megan what it felt like to be married. In between asking questions, my mother and father kept quickly glancing at me as if trying to be subtle about the hint. The rest of dinner included my family talking about work and what our summer plans were, until Megan and Jake decided to drop the bomb on us. The bomb was referring to the baby growing inside of my sister’s small stomach. As everyone crowded around her and congratulated her and Jake, I heard the shatter of my father’s wine glass as it hit the floor.
My mother ran to the kitchen as if on a mission to grab a rag, a dustpan, and a sweeper. Once she came out of the kitchen she got onto the floor and started cleaning. It had always been hard to understand this concept. My mother cleaned up my father’s mess like I have seen her do so many times. As she swept up the last of the glass shards and walked towards the kitchen, I followed her.
Once she put away the cleaning supplies, I decided it was finally time to talk to her about this whole marriage ordeal. “Hey Mom, can I talk to you about something? “She looked up at me and saw the somber look in my eyes and replied “Of course Emily, you can talk to me about anything.” “Look, mom I love you and I do not want to offend you but… I’m young, I do not know what I want to do with my life. But, one thing's for sure, I do not want to be a lawyer and I DO NOT, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE WANT TO GET MARRIED TO BEN!” I finally realized that I was screaming, so loud that my entire family including Ben all came into the kitchen.
Suddenly, everything became quiet. As I looked around the room, I saw my father’s mouth wide open as if to say something but to afraid to hear my response. Then, my eyes shifted to Ben who looked like a wounded puppy scared to look me in the eyes. Finally, my father began to speak slowly and quietly.
“Emily, I think you had one too many glasses of wine. I really do not think you mean that…”before he continued, I loudly and clearly said, “ First of all dad, I am not drunk, and I really did mean what I said. The only reason I decided to study law in college is that it was your dream, and I was trying to please you, just like how I was trying to please you and mom by pretending that I was into Ben and that I wanted to marry him.” My father looked at me dumbfounded and replied,
“Why would you not want to marry Ben? He is such a kind and smart gentleman?”
“ You must be thinking of another Ben, because the Ben I know is the opposite of a gentleman and spends his spare time playing dungeons and dragons with his friends and lip-syncing to Lady Gaga.”
“You and Ben used to be best friends, what happened Emily that you could possibly dislike him so much?”
“Yeah Em, you used to tell me you wanted to marry him someday. “My sister chimed in.
I cleared my throat and finally spoke up “ Well, at the time I said that, I thought that women were obligated to get married, have kids, and be stay at home mothers. Every time that Ben and his guy friends were hanging out and playing sports, I would always want to join in but he would always tell me that because I was a girl I could not play sports. Not only did that annoy me but also with almost everything he did, he told me I could not do it because I was a girl... When I got older I got so fed up with him always telling me what I could and could not do. I can not picture a perfect future with myself conforming to a marriage to a man who is sexist and believes that a wife is supposed to do everything that her husband tells her to do.”
Ben’s face was bright red; I could see the anger in his hazel brown eyes as he glared at me in utter repulsion. The rest of my family stood there in complete silence. Ben finally spoke and said; “ I should be getting home.” he turned around and walked out of our kitchen. Once he slammed the front door shut, I walked out of the kitchen as quietly as a mouse and exited the house.
I was so fed up with everyone not being able to understand that I wanted to make my own decisions for myself. I walked over towards the neighborhood park as slowly as I possibly could. When I took a seat on the old rusted dark green bench, I looked up and saw a group of rowdy ten year old boys playing tag as a young girl in a pink and white polka-dot dress sat not to far from the group in tears. I got up and walked towards her.When I got to where she was sitting underneath the oak tree, I sat down on the grass and said, “ Hi, my name is Emily. What is your name?”
The little girl replied in a faint whisper, “ My name is Sarah.”
“Why are you so sad Sarah?”
“ Those boys over there,” she pointed to the group playing tag, “ they would not let me play because I am a girl.”
I looked in to her bright blue eyes and told her, “ I am going to tell you something that I want you to remember. I want you to remember that even though you are a girl, you can do everything that the boys are doing and you can probably do it better. No matter what anyone tells you, you can do anything you want to do.”
For the first time, I saw a glimmer of hope in Sarah’s eyes as she got up and ran to one of the boys playing tag. I heard her say, “ You think I can’t play because I am a girl, but I bet that I can catch all of you guys if you gave me the chance.”
The boy replied, “ Okay, come and get us.” Sarah looked back at me and smiled, and then ran after the boys.
I stood up and brushed off all of the dirt that got on myself while I was sitting down. I began to walk towards the house. As I got closer I saw someone speed walking towards me. I realized that it was Megan in her light blue parka and white jeans. As Megan got closer she began speak, “ Emily, where in the world have you been? I have been frantically pacing outside of the house wondering where you were. I really need to talk to you…”
“Woah Megan slow down. I needed some time to myself to think about everything so I went to the park and sat underneath the old oak tree...”
Megan interrupted me and said, “ I have never told you this but, before I met Jake I was in a relationship with this guy who kind of reminds me of Ben. He would always tell me what I could and couldn’t do. So, like you, I got annoyed with him and broke up with him. A few months later, I met Jake in my English Lit class. I first noticed him when he was presenting a paper on gender roles in The Great Gatsby. At the end of class, I stopped him and we started talking about his paper and then we moved on to the topic of my sexist ex-boyfriend. Eventually, we started dating, and I respected him for treating me like his equal. I know that you are opposed to marrying Ben and I completely understand where you are coming from and I feel like Mom and Dad should not be pressuring you to do something that you don’t feel comfortable with. I just want you to know that not every guy is going to be sexist like Ben.”
I finally spoke and said, “It was really interesting hearing that you were in a similar situation not too long ago and how you dealt with it. You know, I think it’s time we head back and talk to Mom and Dad.”
As we walked towards the house together, I had a newfound respect for my sister. When we entered the house and walked into the living room, we saw my father drinking a glass of whiskey while watching Dr.Phil. When he saw the two of us he started to say something but before he did I began to speak, “Dad, you know how much I love you and mom but at the end of the day, this is my life and I’m tired of doing what people tell me to do. It’s time that I stand up and do something for myself. I am dropping out of college and I will take a year off. I do not know what I want to do with my life but I do know that I do not want to be a lawyer. Second of all, I do not know if I want to get married or not but if I ever do I will marry someone who will respect me and not tell me what to do….” Before I could continue my father spoke up and said, “ Emily, I have spoken to your mother and the both of us have realized that pressuring you to do something that you are against is not in either of our best interests. I am sorry for making you feel as if you have to get married and have to study law. Your mother and I love you very much and we are so sorry.” I could feel a tear trickling down my cheek as my father got up and gave me the hug that I have longed for.
The next day, I sat down and picked up the magazine from the coffee table. I looked at the blushing bride once again and felt the warmth and love that radiated from the guests at the wedding. I realized that she did have more than one choice; she was able chose her path instead of conforming to other people’s desires.