Wednesday, April 05, 2006

In His Times, All's Perfect

Perfection 101

By Jill Baer Illustrations by Brina Schenk
Vol. 4, Issue 1, No. 6 May 2004

ON THE MORNING OF MY WEDDING, I DISCOVERED A TINY HOLE NEAR THE BOTTOM OF my ivory, cathedral-length veil. The sighting threatened to steal my vision of being the perfect bride.

All I wanted was a perfect wedding. And who could blame me? I had dreamed about it since I was old enough to make my Ken doll kiss my Barbie. And promises of perfection seduced me everywhere I turned. From bridal web sites to every five-pound bridal magazine, they all guaranteed me the perfect dress, the perfect hairstyle, the perfect cake. No other life event lures a woman into the expectation of flawlessness like a wedding.

My dear and spiritual bridesmaid, Cheryl, compared the hole to the purposefully woven flaw in every Persian rug—a talisman of humility and a reminder that only God is perfect. But I am neither Persian nor humble. Just purposeful.

So there were things that nagged at me for months before the wedding. We couldn’t afford all the flowers I had hoped for, including the elaborate chuppah I’d had in mind. And the magical butterfly release I’d pictured to cap off the ceremony wasn’t in the budget either. Then there was my sister, the maid of honour, who complained she’d look tubby in the champagne silk dress I’d so carefully chosen for her. My then-fiancĂ© (who loves the mountains) and I (who love the sea) squabbled over our honeymoon plans, and I fretted about our differences.

And now there was this hole in my veil. Suddenly I recalled the lithograph created by John Lennon that hangs above my stereo. It depicts the artist staring at a whirling black vortex with a bemused smile, and bears the inscription, “The hole of my life flashed before my eyes.” My hole was perfectionism. Cheryl helped me don my veil, and what came next was totally unexpected.

For all the years I had imagined this moment, I was unprepared for the world seen through a sheer swath of tulle wafting in the summer breeze. Everything took on a mysterious, ethereal glow as I started down the aisle to our guitarist’s moving rendition of “Fields of Gold,” the song that played the first time my future husband and I declared our love. The veil gave me a new sense of vision—and just in time to see that face, brimming with emotion, beaming at me as I approached. This man named Ken, like the plastic icon of my childhood ideals—but of flesh and blood—stood before me as a revelation. And soon our love and commitment would be sealed with a real-life kiss.

I had a “perfect” vision of my wedding—and it ‘s good to have a vision. But the “perfect” part isn’t up to us. Always, there is a greater Artist at work. And weddings, like marriage, and like life, are a collaborative effort. What I never anticipated during all my efforts to control every little detail, were these strokes by the Master…

Just before the ceremony, I ventured into the building’s courtyard for a moment of meditation. Out of nowhere, a pair of butterflies encircled me as they fluttered in a bewitching mating dance.
The florist surprised us with a surplus of my beloved Leonida roses, which my bosom-buddy bridesmaid Leesanne used to festoon our chuppah. Since I had decorated the canopy at her wedding, this favor reflected the history and symmetry of our lifelong friendship.

As my favorite nephew and I posed for pictures, the guitarist serendipitously played the very song I used to sing to comfort him when he was just newborn.

My sister Ellie borrowed back a magnificent shawl she once gave me and draped it over her fitted dress. We have shared so much magnificence as sisters that sharing that shawl with her felt exactly right. She looked ravishing and slim, though she still believes she looked too fat. Some people are such perfectionists!

On the last morning of our honeymoon my new husband received the news that his elderly Aunt June, who had traveled thousands of miles to be at our wedding, had passed away. No one in the family had known the gravity of her illness. Through their grief, her family expressed their gratitude to us for creating an opportunity to see her again and enjoy a wonderful final memory. The last photograph ever taken of her, blowing bubbles from a wand during our first dance, captures her joy.

Shortly after receiving the sad call, we headed out to a scenic restaurant called “Nepenthe” (Native American for “No Worries”) before we started for home. The famous view we expected to see was totally obscured by mysterious veils of fog. We were advised that the route we intended to take south to L.A. was socked in, and that we would need to make an alternate plan.

As we drove north into our future, the sun suddenly burst through the mist to reveal a glorious mile of yellow flowers on a mountain cliff above the sea. We pulled over to the roadside and got out of the car… and we walked in fields of gold.

Jill Baer began her career as the youngest staff writer on TV’s "The Love Boat," and has penned over 200 hours of prime time television and several screenplays. She also writes fiction and contributes to various magazines.

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