By Tuesday (Day 4) night, my insecurities had taken over. The culture shock (see Day 1 & Day 3 below) felt huge. Dynamo was very busy with wedding preparations. Out of the 300 wedding guests, I was slightly acquainted with 15 people, including Dynamo’s siblings; to my knowledge, I was the only non-Arab guest. It seemed everyone had their established tight-knit groups, and I was always tagging along, one step behind on all the inside jokes, and frequently entirely excluded from conversations, as the guests lapsed into Arabic. Good manners forced me to hide my boredom and loneliness, but boy, did I feel isolated. I considered throwing myself into sight-seeing day trips, but that involved too much rigid planning, and distancing myself from Dynamo which made me even more anxious.
On Wednesday (Day 5), I skipped out on a major sight-seeing day trip to go shopping with Dynamo for the accessories for his tux (bow-tie, shirt, cuff links and suspenders bc #baller). I’d gone suit shopping with him in Montreal, so it was only right that I accompany him on this second expedition. (Aside: shopping for men’s suits is one of my favorite things to do. I love analyzing the workmanship and skill behind the tailoring of an outfit. One seam is all it takes to make or break a suit.) Seeing Dynamo all decked out in his wedding outfit made me cry. He looked so handsome. The salesman showed me how to properly adjust Dynamo’s tie so that “on his wedding day, you will know, and you will make him look good.” The salesman’s assumption I would be awarded such a critical role (normally attributed to the mother/father/best man of the groom) made me cry. While Dynamo was distracted by his wifey, I bought the classiest pair of cuff links, pissing him off, because Dynamo loves spoiling others but hates being spoiled. I tried to explain to him how honoured I was to witness the beginning of this new chapter of his life, and how much it would mean to me if he would wear these little bits of metal as a token of my love and best wishes for him and his wife on their big day. I only managed to say 5 words before crying. Again. #turningintomymother
I was ashamed to realize that part of my tears were driven by a feeling of mourning: he was embarking on an adventure that necessarily would exclude me. I felt left behind. The creeping fears and insecurities that always hit me hard during weddings were overwhelming. Then I felt guilt, because those are pretty selfish feelings to have with regards to my best friend’s wedding. #sosososorryformyself
That night (Day 5) there was yet another big supper, to greet a new wave of Dynamo’s guests. I felt emotionally raw, and reconciled myself to another evening of hidden boredom tempered by ridiculously yummy food. Instead, I hit it off with 6 of the guests from Dubai and Jeddah (all part of Dynamo’s elder brother’s crew). Thursday (Day 6) I hung out with these new-found friends and Dynamo’s siblings, a day of idle munching, strolling around town, and sunny terrasses. Frequently the conversation lapsed into Arabic, and just as frequently they’d catch themselves and translate immediately, bringing me into the lively dialogue. The topics were wide ranging and interesting, and we discovered shared values and common humour yet totally different life experiences (conclusion: life in Jeddah would not suit me. Did you know movie theaters are outlawed there?). Thursday afternoon, Dynamo casually mentioned that he expected me to tie his bow-tie on his wedding day- of course I would be part of the wedding pictures: I was his best friend. Thursday night the Montreal crew and the Dubai crew went out clubbing, and I had a blast. Dynamo’s sister-in-law gave me a crash course in typical Arab dance moves, practicing them with me till I could execute them smoothly. Friday (Day 7 – day of the wedding), I got ready with Dynamo’s sister and sisters-in-law. So much excited girly conversations – fake eyelashes: too much? is there such a thing as too many hair extensions? What color nail polish would best accent my eyes? Friday afternoon, I joined Dynamo and all of the men of his wedding party, for the wedding pics of the groom getting ready. I tied his bowtie, and adjusted his suspenders and did not cry – his older brother did that instead.
As I walked into the wedding reception, I felt nothing but joy. I tried locating the fears that had threatened to ruin my trip but found they were gone, replaced instead with a certainty that the friendship and love I share with Dynamo will never disappear, no matter how many different chapters or life events we experience. It will grow and change to include the new people in our lives (Hi Mrs. Dynamite!!), and that is a good thing.
I was seated at the Dubai/Jeddah crew’s table. Lots of laughter. The dance floor opened after the first dance for close family and friends to join the happy couple. I hung back, until Dynamo’s older brother impatiently waved at me to join him on the dance floor, because I belonged there. As the Arab music blasted, and everyone danced away, I remembered Dynamo’s sister-in-law’s instructions, and found myself swept away by the music and a never ending number of dance partners.
And so, I learned that being different does not imply isolation. That cultural differences are not insurmountable. That my fears and insecurities don’t stand a chance against love and happiness. What started out as a trip of self-imposed loneliness turned into a trip of new friends and shared experiences.
That Dynamo. He always brings good things into peoples lives.
Recap of all previous posts related to the Trip To See Dynamo Lawfully Wedded: Who’d Have Ever Guessed He’d Find A Woman Crazy Enough To Marry Him.