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A Year to Remember

By:Shelly Bell

A Year to Remember
Bell, Shelly

FEBRUARY 25, 2013


The cameras’ brilliant lights blinded me, while the roar of my racing pulse hindered my ability to identify any of the voices barking instructions from all around me. As the stylist rushed to complete the last minute touches to my hair and makeup, a reassuring voice reminded me to breathe. I held out my hand to her, but they ordered me not to move, and I felt compelled to listen.

This past year, fate mocked me, leading me down a winding and confusing path, instead of the envisioned yellow brick road. I challenged my destiny every step of the way, until the day I learned to completely let go.

The music began playing, my cue to get ready. I took comfort in the knowledge somewhere nearby, he waited for me.

It’s hard to believe how much can change in one year.

It’s hard to believe how much did change in one year.

The day I waited for had finally arrived.


FEBRUARY 25, 2012




“Do you think your brother intentionally chose to get married on your birthday?” Missy asked as we dressed for the wedding.

I shook my head, careful not to mess my hair. “Seth said this was the only day he and Emily could get the Rabbi they wanted.”

Once upon a time, I fantasized about walking down the aisle to marry a handsome prince. He would whisk me away to his castle and pamper me for the rest of my life, grateful to have won me at last. In the dream, I resembled Snow White, with a twenty-two inch waist and perfect black hair that never frizzed. My name would change from Sara Friedman to Princess Sara of Dorchester, although I’d be addressed as “Your Highness.”

As I grew older, I fantasized about walking down the aisle to marry a Jewish attorney, who would whisk me away to his mansion and pamper me for the rest of my life, grateful to have won me at last. In this dream, he didn’t care that I didn’t have a twenty-two inch waist or perfect hair. My name would change from Sara Friedman to Sara Greenberg of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Boca Raton, Florida.

Now, on my twenty-ninth birthday, I’d settle for eloping in Vegas at a twenty-four hour drive-thru chapel to a heterosexual, monogamous man who would shack up with me in my two-bedroom condo, grateful to have a woman to support him.

To say I lost hope of finding “Mr. Right” and living “happily ever after” would be an understatement. Out in the dating world for fifteen long years, I haven’t gotten close to meeting a man I’d consider sharing my life and bank account with on a permanent basis.

Everyone, including me, assumed I would marry before my brother, Seth. After all, I’m almost two years older than him and about ten years more mature. Seth played the field and hadn’t had a steady girlfriend since high school. At least I’d suffered through a few long-term relationships over the years. Of course, they always fizzled out before the possibility of marriage entered the equation.

Before today, I had very high standards, and I refused to date just anyone. I didn’t understand why I needed go on a date to get to know someone with undesirable qualities. I’ve never been one to compromise, but look where my high standards have gotten me.

A bridesmaid at my younger brother’s wedding.



No prospects in sight.

Plus, it didn’t help I’ve always been fat, sometimes weighing as much as two hundred and fifty pounds. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard I should settle for anyone who would have me. My family couldn’t understand why I didn’t continue dating Mike, a nice but boring biology major with the worst case of halitosis on record. Or Harry, appropriately named for his hirsute body, hair sticking out of the collar of his shirts and hanging off his hands like a werewolf.

Silly me, I thought after I lost some weight I’d have a better selection of men, but maybe I waited too long because I swear the only men I meet these days are married, gay, or married and gay.

And those were the good ones.

But finding his soul mate had come easily for Seth. He met Emily in graduate school in New York and after a six month whirlwind courtship, they announced their engagement. Now after a six month engagement, they were getting married.

On the bright side, because I didn’t have a date for my own brother’s wedding, I convinced him to let me bring Missy as my “plus one.” Practically family anyway, she’s been my best friend since kindergarten.

Missy and I became friends as we sat in the hallway outside our respective classrooms for a “time out.” My teacher caught me hitting some kid who teased me, and Missy yelled the word “shit” when she stubbed her toe on her desk. Sitting unsupervised for five minutes, we discovered we had a lot in common. From that point on, we were inseparable.