I never understood the wedding thing. The urge to gather everyone you know, self-apply the pressure of trying to make the perfect day, investing so much in it that you’re almost doomed to either anti-climax or a pre-game breakdown. The need to spend ten thousand dollars (twenty… thirty…) that you don’t have on this one day. The need to sink twelve hours and several rounds of tears into choosing invitations that only a month later no-one else will quite remember. The right napkins. The appropriate corsage. The illusion that these things are somehow central to your happiness. The gambling of your months of work on the chance of sky-borne precipitation. The thing I learned from my 21st birthday – that if it’s your day, you’re hardly likely to enjoy it, or to notice it, passing by in a blur of worrying about what needs to be done next. Someone dropped a slab on the downstairs tiles. Foam is frothing up like repressed dreams. We’re running out of crockery. The toilet needs attention. Your stupidest friend is trying to wrestle people in October mud. These people that you care about will get you for three minutes at a time.
Instead of a wedding, I would just get all my friends together and torch a car. In the dry-dust country, somewhere coughing rocks out of the ground, grey scrub in the distance and rusted-out hulks dumped into old mineshafts. Or an urban desert, some grainy back-block junkyard or chunk of aqueduct, chainlink fences portioning the air into filthy baklava. Somewhere where space yawned above us like a promise or a fever dream. We would drink raw whiskey of the sort we never touch, play rock and roll on a silver plastic ’80s ghetto blaster, eight double-D batteries, nudge the cracked volume lever up its slide. Propped against broken couches or piles of scrap, watching the smoke smear greasy like a thumbprint across the panes of sky, the orange light all flat behind the trails as the day died out. And we would watch the particles mingling, knowing that the talk of people doing so is melodrama, knowing that we’re not on some creepy merger into one, but just two people agreeing to take things on together, knowing that this makes the deal a thousand times more admirable. Knowing surer than a cigarette or sunlight on your neck that one day we’ll come apart when one or other of us dies, or love does. That grief inherent, a contract with inevitable sadness written in. Smoke rising in switchbacks, particles in flight. We all die in fire, so we may as well live in flames.