~ Mary Oliver
You know that stomach ache you get when you have to go to a family function, and everyone’s in a couple but you, and they all pretend they don’t think it’s a big deal that you’re thirty and single and don’t have a date for your sister’s wedding tomorrow, but really they’re all wondering what’s wrong with you and they’re too polite to ask?
That’s the stomach ache I had as I drove to Skylar and Sebastian’s rehearsal dinner.
And the closer I got to Abelard Vineyards, the winery where Skylar worked and where the wedding would take place, the worse it got.
Because maybe they wouldn’t be polite.
No date tonight? Must be hard to find a man once you’re past a certain age.
So why aren’t you married yet, Jillian? That clock is ticking!
You’re not one of those lesbians, are you?
One of these days I was just going to go with that one. It was so much more interesting than the truth—I just hadn’t found the right guy yet and didn’t have a clue where to look. In fact, was it too late to get a hot lesbian date for tomorrow night? That would shut them up.
Stop it. Just stop it.
I took a few deep breaths and tried to focus on what mattered. You’re being ridiculous. This is not about you. This is about Skylar. She’s your sister, and you love her, and you’re thrilled for her. She deserves to be happy. Just because she met the love of her life first doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen for you. Now get over yourself.
The knot in my gut loosened a little. I was being ridiculous, wasn’t I? Maybe tonight wouldn’t be so bad. I had nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I had a lot to be proud of—M.D. after my name, a job I loved at a thriving pediatric practice, a great relationship with my parents and sisters, a beautiful condo with a riverfront view, a healthy body with the Nixon metabolism but not the Nixon ears, and a salary that allowed me to occasionally indulge my expensive taste in shoes and wine.
At the end of the day, I was right where I wanted to be.
It’s just…I was lonely. And worried I’d waited too long to make a relationship a priority. And scared that I’d never meet someone who’d make me fall head over heels like both my sisters had.
No. Don’t start. You don’t have to let anyone see that. You just have to stand tall and smile, hopefully with a big-ass glass of wine in your hand.
Ah, wine. Wine was my friend. Wine understood me. Wine knew that it was entirely possible to be one hundred percent happy for your sisters and also ten percent jealous, because Wine does not care about mathematics. And Wine would never ask why I didn’t have a man by age thirty. Wine and I had spent enough alone time together that Wine knew it wasn’t that I didn’t want to find love—of course I did.
But it was fucking hard!
It’s not like they were handing out soul mates at the deli counter. I’ll take one tall, dark, and handsome with a steady job and a good sense of humor—oh, not the six-inch, the footlong. Thanks.
Sighing, I pulled up at the winery and parked in the side lot next to Miles’s Jeep. Around the back of the sprawling French Provençal style main building, a huge white tent for the reception had already been constructed. The rehearsal was supposed to start at six, and it was a few minutes after, but I took a minute to refresh my lipstick and fuss with my hair. If I had to walk in late and alone, I could at least do it looking better than I felt.
After a final once-over in the small rectangular mirror on the visor, I took one more deep breath and told myself, There is nothing wrong with you.
Then I whispered it. “There is nothing wrong with you.”
Then I said it louder. “There is nothing wrong with you. Other than the fact that you’re talking to yourself in the car.”
A knock on the driver’s side window made me jump—it was Natalie.
I opened the door and got out, my heart still pounding. “Jesus, Nat. You scared the shit out of me.”
“Sorry. I came out to get my sweater because the A/C is on in there, and I was chilly.” She held up a navy blue cardigan and gave me a quizzical look. “What were you doing in there?”
I locked my car, and we began walking across the gravel lot toward the main entrance. “I was…practicing my speech for the toast tomorrow. Are you sure I should be the one to give it? I feel like you’d be better at it.”
“Tough. You’re the maid of honor.”
“More like the old maid of honor.”
She laughed as she elbowed me. “Oh, stop. You are not an old maid.”
“Someone will make that joke tonight—I guarantee it.”
“That’s ludicrous! You’re young and beautiful!”
“I’m not young; I’m thirty. That’s like ninety in judgy years.”
“Oh Jesus.” She shook her head as we climbed the stone steps leading to the massive double doors. “You’re gorgeous and smart and fun. You don’t need to settle for anything less than perfect, and perfect can take a while to find, especially with your schedule.”
I groaned. “Tell me about it. I don’t even know where to look anymore.”
“No more bites from that online thing?”
I shook my head. “I got off that after the convicted felon contacted me.”
“Oh. Well, what about that surgeon you met for drinks last week?”
“Turns out he exaggerated the state of his divorce. As in, his wife didn’t know about it yet.”