The One and Only

By Susan Harvey

Weddings are life changing events, and I should have known from the start that life with my betrothed would not hold the potential I expected. However, I was head over heels in love with my high school sweetheart, and love conquers all negative feelings.

Both of us grew up in poverty, so we probably were running away from our dysfunctional families. I was three years out of high school; he was a third-year engineering student at the University of South Carolina. His dreams ran toward education and financial stability; mine ran toward a June Cleaver life. Not once did I hear God telling me not to marry at such a young age or to this person. Perhaps I was too much in love to listen to God.

On my nineteenth birthday, he gave me a diamond ring and asked me to marry him. We planned a January wedding – “Design on a Dime” style. We also had to work around the date of the first Super Bowl game. That should have been the first omen.

Six months of engagement brought the usual activities: buying the bridal gown, selecting the bridesmaids’ dresses, and bridal showers. We rented a small apartment within easy drive of USC and furnished it with family hand-offs. It was a dump, but I loved it and knew better days were ahead.

On rehearsal night, the weather forecast called for rain and then ice. My mom’s family lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, and had to travel two-lane mountain roads, which were already covered in snow. They arrived late, but safe. My dad was so drunk he couldn’t walk me down the aisle. The wedding cake wasn’t ready, and the seamstress had forgotten to remove the basting thread from the bridesmaids’ gowns. We still had a lot to do on the wedding day. Omen number two.

As wedding-day tradition requires, I didn’t see the groom until the wedding. The forecast was calling for snow, but in Columbia, South Carolina, I had seen snow only one time in my life, so I didn’t believe snow would be a factor on my wedding night. I was wrong; it did snow. My dad eventually showed up at the church sober. At least, sober enough to walk. As long as I walked down the aisle close to him, he didn’t stagger. Omen number three?

Only a small number of family and friends attended because of the snow – Southerners don’t go anywhere in the snow. After the reception in the church fellowship hall, we ran through a shower of rice to our car that declared “Just Married” and drove away with bouncing tin cans tied to the bumper. Since neither of us had eaten anything other than cake at the reception, we stopped for dinner. When he pulled into a Piggy Park Bar-B-Q restaurant my heart sank. Piggy Park is similar to a modern day Sonic. When he ordered one sliced – and one minced-barbeque (for me) sandwich, and one large Coke (to share), I wanted to jump out of the car and run away screaming. But it was snowing, and I had on three-inch heels. Definitely omen number four.

Because the roads were beginning to ice, we decided not to continue on to Myrtle Beach for the weekend. Instead, we stopped at a Holiday Inn in Sumter, South Carolina. How romantic! But who needs the beach in the snow? The next morning, I had no clothes to wear to breakfast. I had a suitcase full of new lace gowns and underwear, but no clothing except the wool dress and coat I wore the night before. We didn’t have money to purchase new clothes for me, so I pulled on my dress, coat and shoes from the night before and went to breakfast with my new husband, who was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt. I was so overdressed for the Waffle House. I looked like my “date” had lasted into the morning hours. I wanted to go home. Omen number five.

We drove back to Columbia later that morning, and I called my mom to tell her we were home and what had happened. I felt cheated out of a honeymoon; Hubby was thrilled we spent so little money. Omen number six.

How many times did God tell me this marriage was not right for me? How many times did He ask me to be patient so He could send the perfect mate? He knows what’s best for me, but I didn’t listen. I wanted a husband, a wedding, a family. I wanted to be June Cleaver. Now that I’ve learned to listen to God, I may actually find my perfect mate someday. Until then, I’m much happier being divorced and being myself.

About this writer

  • Susan Harvey Susan Harvey is a humor writer who teaches college English. She lives in Murrells Inlet, and in her spare time enjoys cooking and reading mysteries.

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