I had the special honor this weekend of reading a passage at my oldest friend's wedding. Oldest friend as in I've known her since birth, not that she's old. She's 29 like me. Anyway, she asked me to read an excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit, which (oh golly) made me sob when I read it IN HER EMAIL. Great! Go ahead and ask a pregnant mommy to read from a children's book at your wedding! See if she can keep her shit together. It'll be a good practical joke!
The wedding was Saturday night, so I printed out the passage on Saturday morning and stood up in front of Dan to practice. I got as far as "When a child loves you" before my voice cracked. I tried to save it but I had tears rolling down my cheek by the time I said "it doesn't happen to people who break easily." Dan was in hysterics. He almost fell of the chair laughing. Defeated, I went into seclusion to practice. After about 30 readings got it to the point where I felt bored and jaded enough to proceed without waterworks. Here's the passage:
A Reading from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse." You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. Once you are Real, you cannot become unreal again. It lasts for always."
Oh man. That Margery Williams chick must have been married.
Going on baby number two and following up on the hardest 16 months in my worldly experience, I really get what it means to get REAL because you're shabby. You don't think about it so much on the day of your wedding, when you're dolled up the prettiest you'll ever be in your life, but marriage gives you the wild opportunity to love someone for a very long time, through times that are sweet and beautiful and through times that look really ugly.
I've been pretty ugly a lot lately. It's not just the hair (although that contributes) but the complete lack of patience, the stressing about money, the bitching about every stupid thing like the universe owes me a coke.
The fact that someone would stay married to me, would love me still, justifies my whole stupid existence in a fashion that can only be described as grace.
So thank you Dan for being married to me. You're the real deal.