I Knew There'd Be Reason to Live through All the Maybes and Ifs.
By the first week of December, Jessie had moved in full time. We were still unsure about what to do with her apartment –since it did have some sentimental value to her – but we agreed not to sell it right away and just put it up for rent.
And once she had settled in, we decided to throw a big dinner party to tell everyone we were engaged. We invited the Washes and Tess and Dean (right before he left for his tour), Jess's friend Di, and a few of my friends from the firm.
When I made the announcement, everyone cheered and the biggest squeal of all came from Tess who gave me such a fierce hug that even Dean got a little jealous –as Jess delighted in pointing out.
"That's payback for all the groupies," Tess told him airily.
"There weren't any groupies." Dean said, with a roll of his eyes but they were both fighting to keep the laughter out of their voices and not five minutes later they were making out in the kitchen.
My divorce-attorney friends were a little more cynical about it, but Jess and I got free pre-nup consultations out of it, so it wasn't so bad.
And then Tess got involved and things began to happen pretty quickly, particularly after Dean and his band kicked off their tour and Tess was left with tons of free time to drive over and help Jessie with the wedding planning.
We wanted it to be soon, both because it suited us and because it would be – in the long run – easier with the legal battle I was getting ready to face against my mother, who hadn't taken kindly to the news I was suing her. And Tess did say something about not wanting to look like a big cow in the pictures, not that her pregnancy was showing yet – or that she had even come out and say it – but sometimes she let little things slip.
Christmas morning, as Kylie and Dean tore into Kylie's pile of presents and made a general mess of the living room, Tess sat with Jessie and me, and helped us make a list of the things we should be considering when planning a wedding, based on her own experience.
She told us to find a venue, and go from there.
"A lot of people say it's all about the dress, but it actually helps to know where you are getting married before that. You wouldn't want to wear a heavy satin gown to the beach, would you?"
"Right." Tess said, nodding. And then we discussed the pros and cons of a garden wedding versus a beach wedding versus a renting a hall or hotel ballroom.
"We could do a winter-beach wedding." Tess said, wiggling a little on her chair. "Have the ceremony on the beach but the reception at a seaside hotel or restaurant. It would the best of both words. No one wants sand in their salad, I'll tell you that."
I could tell Jessie was getting a little overwhelmed but Tess insisted the sooner we had a battle plan the easier was going to get. "Trust me, when you start getting wedding brain, you're going to thank me for this."
"Wedding brain?" I asked perplexed by this term.
"You'll know it when it happens." Tess said, but did ease up a little and we tentatively settled on the last week of February for the reception. Tess said it was awfully close but doable.
And she was right, I did notice when Jess started getting "wedding brain" a few days later when she and Kylie were discussing the very important issue of Kylie's role in the wedding. At first Jess was having a perfectly normal conversation with her, and then she got this far away look in her eye and began to gush about how Kylie was going to look adorable in her flower girl outfit, and how everything was going to be "just dreamy".
And then she began to do that each time we discussed anything wedding related, and I understood what Tess had meant about being grateful for having an already established battle plan.
In any case, other than Jess' current tendency to drift off mid-sentence, it was the happiest I had ever been. Being with Jess and sharing every aspect of our lives was different but exiting.
We had a big fight two weeks into her moving in over some silly stuff – something about the space her shoes took in the closet – and in the end she said that she was there to stay so I was just going to have to deal with it because now and forever it was her house too.
Which prompted some angry sex against the closet's door right about then, and later we went out to one of those decorating-home-improvement stores and figured a way to keep her shows from spilling all over the closet's floor. She called me a neat freak and we had some very un-neat sex then.
Plus, I loved that she felt enough at home to fight me and move things and just make her presence known and felt. And, after a while, it was just as if we had always lived together.
I loved seeing her first thing every morning, and talking to her each night before we went to bed, tucking Kylie in together and taking turns driving her to school. Jess even decided to cut her hours at the hospital even more, and mostly focus working in her practice so she could have more stable hours. And she did enjoy flaunting her engagement ring under Karen's nose at the next PTA meeting.
She said she knew it was juvenile, but that the woman deserved it.
I told her I loved when she showed her devious streak and I was richly rewarded.
It amazed me how you could spend your life living a certain way, and then things changed and you wondered how you ever lived any other way. That's pretty much how I felt about Jessie.
The week before the wedding we were out in our backyard, going over last-minute details of the ceremony with Tess, and tempting the weather by firing up the grill, even though there was a 50%chance of snow. And I could hear Jess and Kylie laughing inside the house and I was so happy, in that instant, of having someplace to belong.
Of having people to belong to.
End of Chapter 22
End of So Yesterday