Milestones are odd things aren’t they? They either pass you by, only to be recognised retrospectively (that first swig of Smirnoff Ice; the first time you paid council tax) or they are so hyped up, so encased in self-conscious significance, that they assume a life of their own, rendering you as little else than a spectator to proceedings (graduation; turning 25).
Rarely do they happen like this: sneaking up, catching you unawares then ramming the reality of passing time into your consciousness. In fact, this might be the first time that they’ve ever happened like this to me – oddly turning the whole thing into a weird kind of double milestone.
Basically, I’ve been invited to a wedding. Well, not quite a wedding, but two engagement parties. Which, I think, pretty much adds up to a wedding – and more than adds up to a milestone, and a significant one at that.
It is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, I’ve never, ever been to an engagement party. Neither have I been to a Proper Wedding – by which I mean not the only one that I have been to, which was my parents’ when I was 10. It wasn’t a Proper Wedding because, well, they were my parents, my father wore jeans and my mother wore yellow (elegant yellow from Ghost, but yellow nonetheless).
It took place in a register office, attended by only a handful of guests, and was motivated by our intended emigration to South Africa. Thirdly, and self-evidently, none of my friends have ever been married (not openly, at least). Suddenly, two are destined to be.
Colleagues greet this news with a mix of knowing chuckles and wink-wink-nudge-nudge innuendo. From now on, I have been assured, my summers are to be defined by such occasions. What’s more, in the words of one particularly empathetic co-worker, I’m going to have to “prepare for bust”. Weddings cost money, and not just for the bride. This sounds logical. Already I’m pondering what to wear, a sure-fire sign that a trip to Topshop is looming.
Of course, no action is necessary yet. My friends’ big days aren’t until next summer. Still, I’m apprehensive. I’ve no idea whether our event destinations will be the local register office or the Bahamas. If the latter, I suspect I may have to find a diary clash. And I have absolutely no idea what constitutes a sensible wedding gift. Whatever the|outcome, it looks like I’ve got a whole new reason to budget.