I tend to suffer post-chupah melancholy. I’m not a big chupah bawler, though I’ve come dangerously close at very good friends’ weddings. It’s after the chupah that gets me.
Partially it’s the dead time. That section of the wedding is utterly pointless. You’re there for the bride and groom, but they’re not there. So there’s nothing much to do. Unless, of course, you’re there to “be seen,” in which case this is the perfect time to be out and about introducing yourself and telling people what you’re “looking for.”
Talking to friends feels too trivial. Something monumental has just happened. Two people have joined their fates for life. They have chosen to follow a bittersweet path over the horizon together. That is a big deal. How can you leave it lightly, yapping about the advantages of flats over stilettos?
It makes me philosophical. It makes me want to ponder the purpose of existence, or just wander around feeling blue, if I can’t find a remote location to do it. Many times, I just walk around the block.
It’s at moments like these that I can almost understand people’s eagerness to get themselves married. It’s a new stage in life. A scary one, but one where the purpose is very clear and delineated. For the unmarried, life is more ambiguous. What are we supposed to be doing? Earning degrees to make ourselves more desirable? Collecting money to support our husbands? Joining chesed organizations to spend our free time productively? (What free time? most singles will ask. Busyness abhors a vacuum. People are never at a loss for what to fill their time with. And yet, there’s somehow more time once you’re married. Clearly, something could be eliminated if we tried.) Is there any purpose to our existence beyond the necessity of getting ourselves hitched?
To be single in the Jewish community is to be in limbo. You are a spare cog waiting to be matched up. That’s all people see you as, and that’s all you’re expected to be. Being married, on the other hand, has purpose. Get along with your husband, survive financially, maybe have some children. Nobody will expect anything else from you in your first two or three years. Nobody expects anything from a single, except that she get herself married soon.
Just typing this makes me feel melancholy. So I’ll stop now, and save it for after tonight’s chupah.