Why do I do a men's gift guide every year? Because I am, so they tell me, a man, so I should know, right?
I will be wearing this outfit at my nuptials.
OMG I AM GETTING MARRIED THIS WEEKEND AND YOU ARE INVITED! There's gonna be a ceremony, champagne, rings and everything.
I'm not kidding about this. Consider this post your official invitation. Please bring your photo-recording devices, because I can't afford to pay a photographer and I could really use your help.
I will warn you upfront, however, that this wedding is going to be a little unusual.
It's not the location or the nonreligious nature of the ceremony that's so odd. Plenty of people have weddings in nontraditional spaces like art galleries, and many folks these days employ the services of nondenominational officiants like Ms. Penabaz the Encouraging Priestess. None of that is particularly off the wall.
No, what's different about this particular wedding, aside from the group invite (bring your friends!) is that it's a bride-only event. Not brides-only; this ain't no lesbian matrimonial fiesta, although lesbians are welcomed and encouraged to attend en masse. No, this is a very special kind of marriage: a self-marriage.
I'm getting married to myself.
Here's how it came about.
I was searching for something to write about, and I started thinking about how weird it is that people I knew as single girls are now married ladies who own things like homes and cars. Like, one of my best friends is a housewife and mother of two out in the Midwest. Another one of my best friends is married with a gorgeous house and a pool house (can you imagine?).
I just went to a bridal shower the other week for a gal I grew up with, and she's four years my junior (I'm 31). It trips me out because, well, weren't we just playing with American Girl dolls the other day? When did this whole growing-up thing happen? And it makes me feel a little sad and left behind, in a very Bridesmaids kind of way, that I haven't found that kind of commitment-inducing love yet. I certainly want it. What am I doing wrong?
I mentioned it to my dad recently when I was home in the Dirty Jerz for the rising of Jesus the Bunny King.
"Dad," I said, "Sometimes I look around at all these people I know who are married and own stuff and have been in the same career already for like nine years, and I feel kind of inadequate. Like, where did I go wrong? Shouldn't I have those things by now?"
"Sara," he said, "that's not the path you chose. If you'd stuck to teaching high school back when you got your master's degree, you'd have those things, too. But you chose entertainment and writing. And that's what you are meant to be doing." (He's kind of wise, my dad.)
I said something similar to my mom and she said, "You have plenty of time to get married. Right now is your time to focus on your career. Go for the brass ring! Dream big!" (She's kind of cool, my mom.)
But the thing is, there are plenty of folks who are still pursuing their big dreams and have also taken the time to get married. It's not like the two are mutually exclusive -- I could have a husband and be a writer/comedian/whatever else I am.
And Lord knows I've dated tons of dudes. It isn't as if I've been waiting on the sidelines for love to find me. I've chased it down, time after time after time, barely taking a breath between one relationship and another, avoiding singledom as if it were an abhorrent plague. In fact, multiple persons with inside knowledge of the situation have suggested that the best thing I could possibly do for myself would be to take some time to consciously choose singlehood.
Still noodling on what to write about for this site, I recalled being intrigued by the self-marriage ceremony of the funky, wild, color-happy author and artist SARK. She wrote about it in one of her books and advocated it for others as a sort of spiritual celebration of individuality.
When I was younger, it seemed silly to me. But as I've gotten older, I've come around to SARK's way of thinking -- that such a ritual might be profoundly meaningful as well as profoundly silly (and what's so bad about silly, anyway?) Maybe, I thought, I could write a post about the idea of self-marriage and ask you ladies what you thought of it.
I pitched Lesley on the idea, and she dug it. I started Googling "marry yourself" and the very first result that popped up was EncouragingPriestess.com. Turns out artist Gabrielle Penabaz has already established a fine practice of marrying people to themselves in New York City, New Orleans and London. And serendipitously, her next round of self-marriage ceremonies was planned for…this very weekend, right here in NYC! And it's free! Anyone can do it! In fact, I can do it. And I'm going to do it. On Sunday, at 1 p.m., at a funky art space in Manhattan.
Gabrielle told me, "I read about Rob Brezsny marrying a crowd of people to themselves at Burning Man, many years ago. I liked the idea of marrying yourself, but as a performance piece, I liked the idea of ushering someone into the experience, so they would be inspired to go further with the concept of commitment."
I told her a little bit more about my manic avoidance of genuine singlehood and asked her if that rendered me more or less fit for self-marriage. She said, "Everyone is a good candidate for self-marriage. In your case, you might savor it more than someone else because you might be pausing to focus on what you really want."
I asked Gabrielle if she ever married herself, and she said, "Oh yes. I split up occasionally and argue a lot, but so far so good."
I can't say exactly why I'm going to do it. Maybe it's a stunt for the site. Maybe it's just for a laugh. Or maybe it's something deeper, a kind of affirmation that I'm okay on my own, even lovable, and certainly worthy of a celebration involving plastic rings and funny outfits. Maybe it's a celebration of the fact that for once in my freaking life I do not have a boyfriend and am not robotically and frenetically going through the motions of obtaining one in order to block out and ignore the scary stuff I don't like about myself.
Maybe I just want to have a fucking party.
Anyway, my friend Tony has agreed to be my witness. I've decided to give myself away to myself, and then marry myself. I'd really love it if you NYC xo-Janers came by and joined the party. You'll have the chance to sign up with Gabrielle to get married to yourself, if you desire. If nothing else, you'll see a real live weirdo doing a real live weird thing, and you'll see it for free, which is the best part of living in New York: all this insanity, gratis.
What: Sara's Wedding
Why: Love, self-actualization, narcissism
Date: Sunday, April 15th, 2012
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Location:Chashama Art Space, 266 West 37th St., ground floor