"Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her,
still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings."
The thing about living in a small town all of your life is that, if you're lucky, you develop friendships that last for decades. The people who love you, faults and all, are the same people who sat next to you in kindergarten, cried with you over skinned knees, giggled all night about stupid boys, were brave enough to ride with you when you learned to drive a car on gravel roads, visited you in the hospital when your baby was born, and stood next to you at your daddy's grave. So when one of those girls invites you to lunch and upon arriving at the restaurant you see four more friends, you know something's up. Something big.
Five of your best friends gathering together to tell you that you shouldn't get married almost exactly four months before your wedding day (when one of them is your maid of honor to boot) is, indeed, something big. We laughed and we cried, and the words they said rattled around in my brain all week:
He doesn't understand you at all and he has no idea how amazing you are.
The Kelly House is your dream. What kind of man, who claims to love you, demands that you give up on your dream?
Rather than complementing your fire, he dulls your shine.
Honey, you shouldn't have to work this hard to be a little bit happy...and you're only a little bit happy.
I realized that they're right. They didn't talk me into anything I hadn't already figured out on my own: this relationship with AJ is not going to work. I told him as much the other night, sitting at his kitchen table. And then the fur babies and I went home to the Kelly House. Some of my furniture is still at AJ's. I'm not sure where my work boots are. The refrigerator is empty except for a jar of mayo and one beer. I won't have cable and internet until Wednesday at the earliest. More than that, his family will be terribly disappointed and upset, I expect to have to answer the question "What happened?" at least 50 times before the whole town knows and to endure snickers because I'm calling off another engagement (this is my third in 20 years), and I think when reality sinks in that AJ won't be nearly so reasonable as he was upon first hearing my decision.
In spite of all that, I am happy...or maybe I'm not quite happy yet, just relieved, but I'm quietly approaching happy again. I sing. My family understands and supports me no matter what, I have the best friends anyone could ask for, and I am back where I belong. Like that little bird, I have wings.