Living with authenticity takes commitment first and foremost to your soul and its path. If you heed the call, your body relaxes into it, even when pain is attached. If you don’t, well, a jarring awakening will rattle you down the road. In fact, you’re biding time until it occurs.
When I turned thirty, my soul released a powerful message to me. I was working in Hollywood and residing in Hermosa Beach, California engaged to my soul mate, Tommy, who I’d been with since my college graduation. Marriage and children would seem the next logical step. But my soul spoke in an emphatic voice. It told me I hadn’t yet lived an essential part of my story.
I needed to know independence, heal some wounds, and grow before entering that sacred union. So, I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. I left.
But this isn’t the tale of how I developed my soul during that time. Rather, it’s the story of how I returned to Tommy three and a half years later. And how, still, obstacles stood in the way of authenticity…and a wedding.
Once upon a time, Fear destined me to be the runaway fiancée.
Beyond reuniting with my soul mate in Maryland, three more years flew by, dwindling his patience. And so, he declared…
“I’ll make all the arrangements. All you have to do is buy a dress, be there, and say two words…I do. If you don’t, we’re done.”
What seemed like an ultimatum truly existed as an act of Love. He chose a place and a circumstance that would enhance not only my authenticity; but ours. By nature, we are both introverts. Also, I am an empath and so he knew a fancy wedding with a lot of guests may not only drain my energy; but perhaps set me up to flee once more.
And so, he arranged for an elopement near Red Rock Crossing in Sedona, Arizona. Sparkling sunlight. Nature as a witness. The two of us.
But first existed the matter of preparation and my one assigned task–the wedding dress. I could purchase a gown with pearls and sequins and ruffles, lacing myself up in pure white. Or I could embrace my inner tomboy chic and choose a dress reflective of the free spirit time taught me to nurture. I returned from a mother/daughter shopping trip to NYC with the perfect dress. When I tried it on, the fabric grazed my skin with authenticity.
Sure, my then teenage niece, Diana, quipped, “Tell me again why you’re wearing a sundress to your wedding?” I smiled. Because, really, did there exist a more fortuitous word to place in front of dress than sun? Bright. Warm. Full of hope. YES, I would wear an elegant sundress to my wedding!
We arrived in Sedona, wedding dress packed, nerves clamoring, picturesque landscape doing its best to deliver us into love, and serenity, and that crazy big thing called marriage. However, our first stop at the crammed local courthouse/jail to secure our marriage license rallied against this vibe. It only created claustrophobia and panic.
Thankfully, our hotel was lovely. So, we shook off the jailhouse’s residue and dined in the patio. The view eclipsed all worries, as I settled into a nearly peaceful place. That’s when I saw her.
Defining moments in life occur in a flash. They are gifts if you can see. Precursors to your path. Intuition unfolded into action. Pure beauty.
And there she was–a little girl with her parents–skin glowing at sunset, smile streaming from her mouth to mine, joy coloring our shared horizon. My upper back tingled. I smiled at Tommy.
Because my journey finally reached this moment of presence. Clarity. Now, I could allow my past to set with the sun.
Across the gleaming future, I imagined her voice whisper.
Say, I do, mom. I’m waiting.
Not to disrupt the power of this NOW; but I have to. Because seconds later an intoxicated, loud, crazy woman my age vomited a few feet from me.
Chalk that up to another sign because jitters found a way to jigsaw once more inside me. Fear, too, didn’t appreciate basking in hope and stillness. It rather enjoyed the drunken fiasco. Run, it told me. Run away faster than you did before.
I did. The next day, I raced to a salon. OK, this doesn’t seem like running away to most people. But, in a sense, I was sprinting from my authenticity. Because the true me would never allow someone else to do my hair or makeup before only the most monumental moment of my life. No, the genuine me would create the most natural template reflective of my soul.
To this day, I still hold sadness in my heart for my hairdresser. She had recently lost her son. Guaranteed she wasn’t too focused on beautifying a bride. No, she found a soft place to unravel her story. And I listened, and grieved with her.
At the end of it, a “makeover” surely happened. In fact, the bereaved stylist made pink run allover my face. A blushing bridal glow, she called it, as she swiped a large makeup brush with pink powder over and over again, circling my cheeks, my forehead, my chin. Nursing a faraway look in her eyes, she also rimmed my windows to the soul so dark I could scarcely see.
I paid, thanked her, hugged her, and then entered the bathroom. Horrified, I stared into the mirror. You know what Fear echoed. I thought something else.
That I resembled the bridal version of a Gothic Raggedy Ann doll dipped in princess sparkle and plumped with 1950’s pageant hair.
My wedding was less than an hour away.
Lickety-split, Tommy zoomed into the parking lot and opened the passenger door. I sat down. Asked the obvious question.
Is it really that bad?
He looked me over in a way I’d imagine someone would who’d been starved for years and finally found his way to the grocery store. There, he lifted the perfect piece of prime steak only to discover it had expired weeks ago. I was supposed to be that rare delightful steak. Instead, my face spoiled in processed pink.
His gawk felt like an eternity before finally he said…
Can you scrub all that off your face in time?
While I remembered to bring my dress, unfortunately, I didn’t think to select makeup for my wedding. Time to hit CVS in a jiffy.
The jiffy part extended to grabbing makeup in a matter of a few minutes. But beyond that existed the longest line ever with the slowest cashier in the history of man at the helm, wearing a tag with ironically the shortest name ever, Ed. Time ticked faster than my heartbeat; while shoppers reveled in my bridal woe-glow. Once I reached Ed, I wasn’t up for even miniscule talk. But he was up for that and more. And so, again, I listened. Perhaps there’s a lesson in all of this, my soul said.
But probably not, I thought once I reached the hotel. I sprinted upstairs, and in ten minutes, I lathered my face, reapplied makeup, and flattened the bouffant. Then, I threw on the creamy sundress. Stood before the full-length mirror. Still, I looked like a foreigner in my skin. But there wasn’t a spare moment to lament it.
Instead, Tommy and I hustled to our rental car and proceeded to drive to our sunset wedding locale. Now, the weather forecast had called for clear skies and warmth. But, voilà, Mother Nature’s sense of humor heightened. From out of nowhere, sand blew frenetic as my thoughts. Blasted the window. In fact, a storm–freakish and glorious all at once–blessed me. With it came intense rain, cleansing all worry. Authenticity belly-laughed.
This would not be my wedding day. Indeed, the nuptials were canceled. And as we spoke with our minister, she let us know that a storm as such had never happened before in her long history of marrying couples.
Deep down, of course, I wondered if the sore weather gusted as an omen.
Only time would tell, and so far, it wasn’t whispering anything favorable. After all, the next day, we rose again and dressed for our wedding. But once more our minister canceled the ceremony. She needed to handle a last-minute emergency.
Now I truly believed the universe was conspiring against us. Perhaps we needed more time. Yes, Fear, tried to weave the time trick through my mind like a sparkly flaming ribbon. And, of course, so as not to get burned, the run part.
By this point, I worried that Tommy feared too. I would find him lost in Sudoku puzzles on the patio. Perhaps he was plotting his escape from me, I thought. Like when he traveled for years–and then placed an ocean between us in England–when we couldn’t stay out of each other’s lives during our separation. Even with distance, time, growth, Love stuck.
But would it be enough to finally deliver us to our wedding?
Secretly, I retreated into the bedroom to cry, wondering. What was wrong with me? Where was my soul? Why wasn’t it speaking to me now at the time I needed to hear its voice? Fear swirled round me like my own personal sand storm. It spewed story pieces of broken marriages I’d witnessed.
However, on the third day in Sedona, I awoke to the morning sun stretching through the sheer curtains in spiritual ribbons, warming the space where my soul met Tommy’s. All parts of me grew quiet, even pitiful fear. Reassurance then floated to me with a clear voice.
Now. This is the the day.
Once more, we prepared for our wedding. But this time we made it to Red Rock Crossing. Sunlight shimmered, water rippled, mountains assumed their most regal posture. As I walked hand-in-hand with my soul mate and then gazed in his eyes, the world blurred.
Oneness wrapped us in the heart of Love’s vortex.
Life stilled in our shared breath.
And words made eternal vows.
Once upon a time, Fear destined me to be the runaway fiancée. And so, it took time to finally arrive at my wedding.
But the soul isn’t concerned with time, and it certainly doesn’t cater to fear. Instead, it pines for authenticity and growth. The kind that ripens you in beautiful deep shades so that when you say, I do, they aren’t just words. No, instead, they exist as the tiny powerful makings of a life.
So, when the soul says you are ready, you run from fear, and you embrace Love no matter what rests ahead.
And the “what” that glimmered ahead was a return to our first moment in the summer of 1992. In a restaurant, Tommy stood across the way. He stared at me in a sacred space of knowing–even in the unknowing–that we were made for each other.
Seventeen years later, we converged into the unknowing. Here, we met our endless Summer. A magical sunlit daughter. A beautiful present, autism and all. Life’s greatest teacher.
Summer shows us every day that it’s OK to take time to mature, bloom, grow.
She reminds us that Love is authenticity.
And, of course, it is always worth waiting for.
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I listened to this beautiful music–laughing and crying in memory–as I wrote. Play and reread to enter this writer’s world.
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