Rites of Passage

New beginnings start in fall
New beginnings start in fall

I remember learning in my literature classes at uni how authors often use autumn as a motif for change, particularly in classic books. The cooling weather and changing leaves foreshadow a greater change coming, which the reader may or may not see coming. Well, this autumn has certainly been a game changer. As mentioned previously, October has been a month of celebration. I celebrated the beauty of the changing leaves and crisp mornings. I celebrated Thanksgiving (twice!) with friends and vowed to bring this great holiday back home. I dressed up and celebrated Halloween over the weekend, which seemed appropriate after a decidedly spooky fog enveloped the city for weeks.

 I also celebrated my 27th birthday, even though the weeks leading up to it stressed me out. How could I possibly be turning the age that so many great artists had died by? What on earth have I accomplished? What am I still waiting for?

I still don’t have the answers to those questions, but just like a character in a Victorian-era novel, maybe I should have realized that the falling leaves would bring with them another change — Mr Midday Musings decided to make his title official and proposed. We plan to get married back in Australia around Christmas next year, and even though it’s awhile away, it’s amazing how much this news seems to affect other people. The ring, the story, the romance… people want me to fill in the blanks and create a complete picture of the day, when really it was a decidedly low-key affair.

I can only think that it boils down to a lack of rituals in our everyday lives. People want to squeeze every drop of pomp and ceremony out of the one occasion where it’s ok to follow rules and old-fashioned traditions — encouraged, even.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of things about weddings and engagements that actually make me really uncomfortable. Yes, traditions are nice, and I actually do appreciate (and feel!) the tugging pull of nostalgia. But really. Do we need to spend thousands on an engagement ring? I’d rather go to Mexico and splurge on a flash resort. Does every moment of our happiness really need to be documented? Will I need to wear a white dress? Do I need to change my name?

The list goes on and on. The answer to so many of these questions is, of course, no — but it’s amazing how many people seem to think it’s their business. It’s as though everyone agrees in theory that these rules don’t need to be followed but are completely shocked at any suggestion of not following protocol.

At the end of the day, sometimes it’s easier to go with the flow. Yes, many of the traditions associated with marriage are downright backwards and steeped in an idea of possession that makes my skin crawl. But many of these traditions also do seem quite romantic in our era of glazed, screen-based communication. If I’m really honest, I don’t want to miss out on these traditions that I’ve witnessed my friends and family celebrate happily for years. Some of these issues were explored really well in this recent Jezebel article, but overall, I think it’s easy to say you’ll do it your way — but a lot harder in practice.

Rituals, bring them on. I’m ready.

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