The Wedding Singer: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Figured I was due for a nice story. 

I met James over 12 years ago at a lovely little place called detox. He asked me if I needed help with my puzzle and even though I didn’t want any help, I relented and we’ve been friends ever since (it took us five days to do 300 pieces). 

More notably, we share a sober date and THAT is a bond that cannot be broken. 

Our relationship has ebbed and flowed over the years. We would have spurts where we’d talk a bunch and get together. And then stretches of time when we didn’t talk at all. That’s life. 

After detox, I felt pretty lucky that I still had a home to go back to. I had people that were there for me even though I probably didn’t deserve them anymore. I had a mom who made me stay on her couch for a few days while my sister went and detoxed my apartment. I had a job that thankfully didn’t fire me even though I, without warning, took a week off. I had a handful of venues that, inexplicably, still allowed me to play there. I still had my struggles and still had to work hard, but it would have been much harder without that support. 

James went to an inpatient rehab after detox. I didn’t. My insurance didn’t cover it. I was very nervous about this since I found myself looking out the window of St. Peter’s each day at the bar across the street while I mixed cranberry juice and ginger ale to make mocktails. But luckily, with AA and therapy, I found my way. 

I went to visit James in his detox and brought him a puzzle. He got out in late November and moved into a sober house. I got him some good food for Thanksgiving and made sure he was ok as best I could. I watched as he eventually got his own place in Cohoes and feigned excitement as he gave me a 47-second tour across the carpeted bathroom and into the efficiency kitchen. I WAS excited but I was also a little scared. But he was proud and so was I. He came out to shows and brought friends. He followed me to the City when I first started comedy and even tried to work out with me when he started getting swole (even though that didn’t work out). No matter where we were in our lives, we spoke every year on October 25th. We shared pictures of our coins and disbelief over how many sober days we had accrued. 

A few months ago he told me he was coming to visit and he was bringing his girlfriend. I met them for dinner and not only did I love her right away, I loved the influence she had on James. James is the same age now as I was when we met. So when he asked if I believed that he was a whole 33 years old, I restrained myself from physical violence. If I’m being honest, the age difference probably contributed to the spurts of time we didn’t speak. Nothing really wrong was ever done; folks are just in different parts of their lives and sometimes the rhythm is off. 

But my James had grown up. He put himself through school and got a really good job. That little shit makes more than me. I’m not bitter. Nope. 

A couple of months after that, he told me he was getting married. I was very excited for them both! He told me he wanted me to be there. I offered to do a song or something, if they so desired, making it clear that my feelings would not be hurt should they not take me up on this. They said they wanted me involved in some way. 

It started like it usually does. This time I was ready to set healthy boundaries. I was getting triggered and it wasn’t their fault at all. I wanted to preserve the friendship but also help them in any way I could. But with each and every step, all I kept thinking was the times in the past when I had done this and regretted it because I ended up feeling unappreciated (see older blogs). The first thing I did was recognize that I could not be a guest and help them properly. I said I would leave my husband at home and come work this wedding for them. I was just going to run music for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception (which was more of a sit-down dinner than a dance party thing) so it shouldn’t have been that much work. They offered to pay me and I gave a pretty big break on what I’d usually make. I took into account that I would have been there anyway and that I would have gotten them a gift. 

It’s hard to separate business and pleasure when you’re self-employed. But I’m getting better at it. The problem is I’m also a control freak and a martyr and when I see chaos, I throw myself right into the fire. 

There was chaos. I stay remarkably calm when other people are falling apart. It’s kind of a gift. But I’ve literally canceled an entire dinner because I hit my ankle on the retractable garbage can in my kitchen and sat on the floor for 45 minutes until my husband called for takeout. 

In the end, it was basically my first trial as a wedding coordinator. I saw things that needed to be done and I did them. I’m still a freshly traumatized bride and so I definitely know these emotions. When your oldest friends let you down. When things don’t go according to plan no matter how meticulous you’ve been. When the weather shifts. When flo comes to visit. It helps to have someone around to keep you chill so you can enjoy that day and focus on what’s important. That you’re marrying your person. That’s all it should ever be about. 

I was thanked profusely and I was compensated handsomely. It felt good to put myself out there and not have it backfire for once. Not to sound dramatic but honestly, I don’t have much left in that bank. But I’m grateful for this experience on so many levels. Most being that not every human is garbage and that two dirty stay-outs can have their dreams come true after a rocky start. Like we finished another puzzle.

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