Friends-in-Law

by Kohleun

* This is a piece of nonfiction. People’s names have not been changed to protect the innocent. In fact, let’s just call this my “love letter” to Nash, Jeff, and Christina.

I am now of a certain age: for some in my bracket “certain” means “marrying” and for others, such as myself, “certain” means “bridesmaid” to friends who are marrying. I am in full-bridesmaid mode having recently returned from Tammi’s wedding, and with two more weddings on the calendar in June and January.

Each request to be a bridesmaid comes with the acquisition of a new dress. Just ask Katherine Heigl. With one royal blue be-flowered number and a silk little black dress already in my closet, I am just one little blue dress away from meeting my wardrobe quota for the numerous upcoming nuptials. (And, with dances planned for each wedding, the patent leather pumps are about to earn their salt.)

But dresses (that I can, like, totally wear again) are not the only gains to accompany the honor of standing with my friends as they make one of the most important commitments of their lives.

It’s tough to marry close friends off, because as much as we hate to admit it, relational dynamics change. For one thing, there’s a whole other human being to consider when making plans. Partnered friends aren’t likely to be up for a last-minute, late-night taco run and Gilmore Girls marathon, nor should they be. This realization is easier to rationalize than to practice. It’s even harder to marry friends off to people we don’t know. Think about it: a person you love deeply commits his or her life to the partnership and protection of another human being whom you have never met?!? What if the intended is a serial killer, a pathological liar, a control freak, a two-time-and-double-dealing-friend-mistreatin’-loving-heart? In academia we have a very technical term for marriage because of these potential downsides: that shit cray.

Talking about crazy (cray), a few weeks ago I boarded a plane from PDX to PHX with Alicia, the sister of the bride, and from PHX caught the Thursday night red-eye to Atlanta, Georgia, where my dear college friend wed a man I had, until that Friday morning at some god-forsaken hour, never met. He turned out to be a fabulous shuffle board partner and his family was welcoming and hospitable. As I rode with just the couple to the rehearsal dinner and we talked about our observations from the weekend, it struck me that they are now a unit–not just Tammi & Nash, but TammiNash (please notice that there are two capital letters there, since you know I’m not saying anyone’s identity should be absorbed by anyone else’s). Like, they anticipated each other’s familial behaviors and planned accordingly. As if they were friends or something.

I was reminded of all the long talks I’d had with Tammi and Alicia over coffee, in student apartments, at the corner bookstore, and across continents via Skype. I remember the mysterious and potentially political connections they have in their family tree. And no one will forget how my mom sent me back to Oregon with dollar store condoms and a pregnancy test for Alicia when she was first noticing the unsavory effects of gluten on her system. Admittedly, we might know too much about each other. And all right, all right, all right, Nash doesn’t know anything about my mom’s attempts at humor, but he is part of this knowledge pool now. This great guild of uncontrollable laughter and mended hearts.

We aren’t an exclusive group, and this isn’t my only cohort of till-death confidences, but if anything in this world is sacred it’s friendship. Whether that’s between life-long partners or life-long co-conspirators. So, please, soon-to-be-married friends, remember us–the ones who told you the first dress made you look like an ice cream cone–because we’ll stick by you and yours in sickness and in health. We’ll make you dinner when your sweetheart has to work late and you’re all alone, even when we’re at the poorer end of richer or poorer. And we’ll be the first to make the newb tell a deeply embarrassing story during game night. (You’ve been warned.)

And soon-to-be-spouses of friends, please remember how much we love the person you are marrying. You think you love them more than anyone else ever could, but let’s be honest, it’s not a contest (and you’d probably lose anyway . . . just sayin’). And keep in mind that we’d like to learn to love you, too, as an individual and as part of your own TammiNash.