Remember wedding season? That period of your life that fell somewhere between the ages of 27 and 33 where it felt like, every second weekend, you were travelling somewhere for a wedding. Let alone trying to organise your own.
Those days have long passed. It's almost a quarter of a century since my (initial) circle of friends and I were at the point of tying the knot. There was a period between 1994 and 1997 where all of us got married. Some of us to people we had met while we were all at university during the late '80s, there was some kind of completeness about our circle joining together at separate ends. Others married people we had rarely met, people from new workplaces, new cities, new loves all, each holding a promise for a future we all believed was ahead of us.
I remember weddings in backyards, where labradors had ribbons around their necks, to huge RSL clubs in country towns where we had to pin money on the bride's skirt, and get past mama, if we wanted to even say hello. I remember tender moments involving aging family members, and elaborate celebrations that were way over the top, but who cared? What cares in the world did we have then?
I can't remember, however, going to one wedding where I thought this is not going to work. We were all so full of optimism and enthusiasm and love. The future was ours. We all put faith in each other that we had made some kind of sensible decision. That a boy we knew at 24 was going to be the man we knew at 64. It was one of the most beautiful periods of my life. We believed in it all.
And now I'm watching my (newest) circle of friends going through the same thing. Young friends from work and sporting associations getting frocked up, celebrating what is such a fabulous celebration of promise and love and hope.
I'm watching them get dressed up, catching up with old friends, supporting each other through what, if we're honest, is a very confronting period of your life. That's transition between being a "young adult" and an adult, let alone being a spouse. It's not easy.
But it's hard not to be cynical about it all. When I think about all the weddings I attended, I'm doing the math about how many of them are still together. It is probably about the national average of one in three. Perhaps a little bit more in application. I never would have picked any of them, even my own, to end up the way they did. Other people may not have felt the same way.
Indeed some of the weddings that moved me the most, where there was just so much love being shared, have ended up not working out. How can you pick it?
I watch them now, my young friends, and I wonder what advice, what wisdom there is I could pass on. But as my own 16-year-old son said to me once, when I dared to offer him relationship advice, I suck at relationships, so what authority do I have to pass on any advice.
Harsh but true.
But if you're listening, here are a few ideas. It's not always going to be about what dress you choose. Or whether he's had a shave. It's about recognising that sometimes you will not feel very fondly of each other. Or that you both will find someone else far more attractive. No matter whether you've had a tan done, or he's ironed a shirt, there will be days where you see each other at your very, very worst. Physically and literally. We are all arseholes at times. You have to let that pass.
And you have to be there for each other during those periods of darkness. Don't ignore each other's problems, regardless of how trivial you might think they are. No one is ever right. No one is ever the best. We're all failures, we're all too trusting, we're all too vulnerable. Or we should be. True love is letting someone see you at your very worst and knowing they'll be there to hold your hand through it all. Maybe they'll still like you on the other side. Maybe not.
It's interesting, watching all this again for the second time. My (middle) circle of friends are all at the point where their children are the age mine were when I first met them. They're through the honeymoon phase, the new baby phase, firmly ensconced in the how do we manage all of this stuff, careers, young children, in our mid to late 30s, without losing sight of the fact we really, truly, are still fond of each other. It's not just about us anymore, but this little family we're creating.
And then I see some photographs of my (young) friends, all dressed, pre-wedding, in matching Budgie Smugglers (god bless them, neither circle of middle, or old friends would be so brave) and I know these girls will be okay.
Because I know they already have a firm circle of support. I know, and I hope it doesn't, that if things do go pear-shaped in their future, they'll be okay.
But promise me, all of you, believe in love. We have to.