At first it was just a pile of paper collecting in one corner of my life after trips to the post office. Bills went in the holder on the bookshelf. Outdoor clothing catalogs went on the coffee table for quick perusal and disposal. Wedding invitations went on the kitchen counter.
I mailed back RSVP cards for local weddings.
But summer was months away. I still had plenty of time to decide which "overlooking the sea" weddings I would attend.
There are so many this year.
They say the average age for marriage among my generation is 25, higher than it's ever been. From my vantage point, it seems that 30 or 31 is closer to the truth. Something about that 30th birthday gets the clock ticking. Before you know it, you're sending out "we request the pleasure of your presence" on birdseed paper to 150 of your closest friends and the family members who are paying.
Now, I'm waist deep in blank RSVP cards, mostly for weddings on the East Coast. Mostly too far apart to catch more than one inside my two weeks of paid vacation.
I mention all this because I know I'm not the only one going through the "who shall I offend this year" invitation shuffle.
Since this time last week, I've listened to several friends at barbecues and at the coffee shop wring their hands about the wedding dilemma.
As I listened, I realized how lucky I was.
Fortunately for me, this year's wedding season is happening thanks to my male friends.
My female friends are still in graduate school, working at becoming unmarriageable.
Ergo, I don't have to wear a single puffy-sleeved bridesmaid dress this year. I just have to show up and be a dot in the pews and a fool at the reception.
Other than your funeral, weddings are the only time when you get to invite people from all those chapters of your life into one small room. You want them all to meet, drink and eat small sandwiches together.
That's why I've received invitations from friends as far back as high school.
I'm paranoid to go to the mailbox. Who will send one today? That guy from the Greyhound? He was going to be a famous rapper. He made me read the rhymes he had written in a three-ring notebook. In Greyhound time, the ride from Tulsa to Philadelphia is a lifetime to spend with someone. I probably should go to his wedding.
What about the woman I waited tables with in Jackson? We had been so close that winter. Or the regular customers at the coffee shop where I worked in college? We talked every morning for almost a year. Maybe I should go to their weddings.
Eenie, Meanie, Minie, Moe.
Suddenly, I'm back on the playground. Everyone is staring at me, and I have to pick who will be on my team. I get the wink from one friend and the conspiratorial smile from another.
How do you decide which one of your friends is worth a plane ticket and a week off work? Are your closest friends the ones who know you right now? Are they the ones who have known you the longest? Are they the ones with the best caterer?
Just when I thought it didn't really matter which one I chose, I started receiving the "are you coming?" calls.
On Saturday, the phone rang.
I already had decided to skip the wedding of my almost best friend from high school. Yes, he had always saved a seat for me during those teenage late nights at Denny's. Was that enough? We hadn't spoken in years, but there he was on the other line.
We had one of those two hour, catching-up-on-everything-and-everyone conversations that ended with "we'll be friends forever" and then the dreaded question: Are you coming to the wedding?
To which I answered, maybe. Probably. I'll have to get back to you in June.