I do? Part-I
“Oh my God!” Gia gasped. “You are beautiful!”
Tears pooled in her eyes as she made sure my veil was perfect. That’s what she’d been doing since my engagement; making sure everything was perfect.
The full-length mirror in the bridal suite confirmed I was indeed the vision of perfection on my wedding day. My hair was pulled back into a chignon, my makeup was flawless, my skin was glowing. The white gown had a lace sweetheart bodice that was both sexy and classy. The organza train would follow me down the aisle in dramatic fashion. With my veil and bouquet of purple and green calla lilies, my reflection was even more beautiful than I anticipated.
“Zahara, Devon is going to freak out when he sees you!” Nichelle gushed. She was my cousin and my first friend. She and Gia were the only two bridesmaids I wanted because they were my people. Mama tried to add more and more of my cousins, but I refused. I didn’t see the purpose of adding people just cause we were family. I’ve learned that family is who you love and who loves you. Nothing against my cousins, but they just wanted to be included. They wanted the pictures and the free beat. Gia and Nichelle were here because they cared about my happiness.
I was in a room full of people attending to my every need. My wedding coordinator Tiffany was directing the show and she was worth every penny I paid her. There was so much hustle and bustle in the room that no one noticed that I was just here.
My body was here; my mind was not.
When I woke up this morning, I had doubts. If I were being honest with myself, which I clearly was not, I had doubts since Devon proposed. By a sane person’s standards, marrying Devon was a dream come true. He was handsome, like he was related to Kofi Siriboe, educated, a promising lawyer, community-minded, spent his free time working for the less fortunate. He treated me like a Queen, showered me with love, and just because tokens of affection. Some of the pediatric nurses on my floor smiled when flowers and edible arrangements were delivered, others didn’t do much to hide their jealousy. When he asked me to become Mrs. Devon Washington in the most elaborate surprise trip to Jamaica, it was almost expected.
Gia, Nichelle, and mama jumped in action plotting and planning, and had they taken a second to come down off their high, they would have asked if I was sure.
But why would they ask me that when it seemed like was he perfect for me?
The most negative thing I could say about Devon was that he snored when he slept. And he could only cook breakfast. And he got too loud when he watched sports.
And none of that was a good enough reason for me to be apprehensive. I honestly couldn’t explain it. I loved him, I did. He provided the safety and stability that brought calm to my life. But he just didn’t move my soul. He didn’t give me that fire. And I didn’t know why.
I’ve known it since we started dating exclusively. I liked him, even fell in love with him, but during my downtime, when my brain was idle, I thought about my life and my future. Something felt off. Once, I made the mistake of asking Gia if I was settling and she slid me the number of her therapist. I kept quiet and pretended to be happy.
I really thought that when I woke up today, my heart would stop being crazy and just accept this is what we were going to do. But it wouldn’t. My heart was longing for someone and something that was not Devon. And I wished it would stop loving someone I couldn’t forget.
We hadn’t been together in years. Actually, Trevor and I had just broken up for what would be the last time when I met Devon. I wasn’t over Trevor and never gave myself the opportunity to get over him because Devon invaded my life with his caring, loyalty, and romance. When things got serious between Devon and me, I cut off all communication with Trevor. Got rid of traces of him from my life. I just couldn’t evict him from my heart.
When we first broke up, I believed Trevor and I were incompatible. I tried to justify it as an opposites attract type of thing. I liked to relax at home, Trevor wanted to be out in the mix of everything. I wanted the three-bedroom house in the suburbs with a fenced-in backyard for the kids and dogs while Trevor wanted the high-rise condo in the middle of downtown. I wanted plans and stability and Trevor flew by the seat of his pants.
We fought over these differences sometimes, over him pushing me out of my comfort zone, and me screaming because I was scared. At almost 30, I felt like Trevor wasn’t adulting very well, even though he was happy, almost giddy with his life and career in marketing. But it wasn’t until I didn’t have him in my life anymore that I felt something was missing.
With Devon, he was comfortable, the stability I thought I wanted. We were so much alike, it seemed like a match made in heaven. But it was with Trevor that I tried new things. New restaurants. Dyed my hair. Met new people. I didn’t appreciate it until I didn’t have it.
It was the night before my wedding when I realized marrying Devon would probably be a mistake. If I wanted an easy, simple life, Devon was the one for me. But since Trevor hadn’t been in my life, I missed the spontaneity he brought. I wanted the feeling Trevor gave me, that fire in my soul. I wanted to interject that into my relationship with Devon. I really wished I understood why my heart was pining for Trevor when I had Devon.
“Ok people,” Tiffany announced. “It’s time to go!”
We left the suite where I was getting ready, heading to my home church to exchange vows. In the car, my parents, Tiffany, Gia, and Nichelle carried on conversations. How did they not notice my silence?
We pulled up to the church and my heart thudded in my chest. I closed my eyes and willed my heart to be still. I love Devon, I told myself. I said it over and over again, my brain trying to convince my heart to fall in line.
My daddy exited the car and helped me out, smiling with pride at his baby girl on her wedding day. Everyone that mattered to me loved Devon. It was me that wasn’t in love with him enough to marry him. Nevertheless, I was walking up to the historic building with my best friends in front of me, my daddy guiding me.
In the foyer of the church, Tiffany beckoned for me to stand off to the side of the doors so no one would see me. She closed off the doors after my mother and Devon’s parents were seated. Tiffany nodded to Nichelle, then Gia when it was their turn to take their places at the altar that was a sea of purple, green and white calla lilies.
Tiffany cued the music change to announce my arrival before closing the doors again. She waited a few seconds before tapping on the door to alert my ushers to open the doors. When they swung open, I was greeted by so many faces, all smiling, ready to witness me and Devon’s union.
I saw him, standing next to my pastor and his groomsmen looking more handsome than I’d ever seen him before. But that was nothing compared to his expression when he saw me. As my daddy and I started walking down the aisle, tears fell from Devon’s eyes. His expression was one of a man that was in love with the woman he saw walking towards him. Without even saying anything, I knew what his reaction meant. He’d been anticipating this moment. He wanted this more than anything in the world. His best man, his brother, handed him a handkerchief to wipe his eyes before patting his back in comfort. Both Gia and Nichelle were crying, too.
But when I looked at Devon, I didn’t feel what I should have felt today. I should have been giddy, ecstatic, over the moon, delirious with joy. I felt none of that.
At some point, my feet stopped moving. My daddy tugged on me to get me to continue walking but I couldn’t. I couldn’t subject myself to a life of comfort, not when my soul longed for something deeper, something stronger, something that torched my soul and made me feel alive.
When I started backing away, I saw Devon’s brow crease in confusion. My daddy thought I was falling so he held me tighter.
I snatched away from my daddy and looked at Devon, knowing that I was about to break his heart. I dropped my bouquet and hiked up my dress. I had to get out of here.
Behind me, I heard people gasping and people calling my name. I ignored them all. I ran out of the church, leaving all of them behind. The driver, perplexed at seeing me so soon, threw his cigarette out the window when he saw me approaching. I climbed in, a difficult task with my dress.
“Drive,” I beckoned my driver. “Just drive.”
He asked no questions but followed my directions. I looked behind me to see half the church outside watching me leave. I saw the hurt and confusion on Devon’s face, but the further I got from my wedding, the more peace I felt.