Thursday, May 3, 2007

"Everything I Never Wanted"

My best friend from childhood (since the day in second grade when I chased away the playground bullies who were tormenting her) called me today with the stunning news that she is engaged. She is 38 and has always wanted a husband and kids, but she just never was able to find the right man. For fifteen years, she has tried every dating service, accepted every fix-up, been on every dating website. She has been on more first dates than I have dates total in my life. This is even more remarkable because she is one of the shyest people I have ever met. The mere idea of public embarrassment is enough to make her blush. I myself (not the shyest person in the world) would rather give up my stash (well, maybe not the whole stash) than go on a blind date, so I am terribly impressed by her courage and perserverance.

She is an amazing, talented, brilliant woman, and I have a theory that the more wonderful and accomplished a woman is, the harder it is for her to find an appropriate man. My friend is definitely at the top of the "wonderful and accomplished" list. So I was delighted (albeit shocked) when she announced today that she is engaged to a man I didn't even know she was dating. She has known him ten weeks, and, according to her description, he is "everything I never wanted." She is a nice Jewish girl; he is a Buddhist. She is Ivy League all the way; he doesn't have a college degree. She's an opera singer and voice coach; he's in construction. And they live in different cities. But she says he treats her better than anyone ever has, he's read everything and is very informed and intelligent, he has season tickets to the opera, and he's moving to her city to be with her. They've both met each other's families, and everyone gets along great and is very supportive of their decision.

I am thrilled for her. I have personal experience of the instantaneous relationship; my husband and I got engaged on our third date. We've been together (and happy) for more than 14 years, so I think you could call it a success. My parents married two months after they met, and they've been married 48 years. And my other best friend married her husband two months after they met, and they've been happily married for 4 years now. So the fact that she didn't know he existed 10 weeks ago does not worry me at all.

What does worry me a little--and here's where the knitting content comes in-- is that I immediately decided to knit a wedding shawl for her. They're planning on having the wedding next spring, so I have plenty of time. But I have never done a shawl, never worked with lace-weight yarn, and don't have a pattern in mind. I also don't want her to feel obligated to wear the shawl for the ceremony; it's more important to me that it simply commemmorate the occasion. Does anyone have experience with this sort of project? Any advice on materials, patterns, or etiquette? When is the appropriate time to give the gift (bridal shower, at the wedding, privately some time before the wedding)? And how do I convey the meaning of the gift without making her feel she needs to wear it for the ceremony?

Any thoughts are much appreciated.


sophanne said...

I have zero experience, but somehow I think if you get the words "heirloom shawl" in the giving of the gift, that will help.

I met my husband at 39 after many relationship disasters. I think after a month we knew we'd eventually be married-and prior to that I was pretty content to see myself as the old lady "sweeping imaginary leaves from the front porch as they collected in the gutter."

People say "you just know" and I believe it. Also after 38 years of going through all that you DON'T want, you feel pretty confident when you finally decide.

Anonymous said...

What a nice friend you are. I don't know anything about making that type of a shawl but as far as wanting her to know she doesn't have to wear if for the ceremony, tell her! Just like what you wrote here.

Your post makes me think maybe there is hope for me to some day find a nice, decent man!

Quail Hill Knits said...

I read your blog and again laughed at our coincidences. My husband and I have been together 14 years and he asked me to "be with him forever" August 12 (we started dating July 16). My parent have been married 55 years. They got married two months after they met (and my mom was engaged to someone else at the time). My best firned was married two weeks after meeting her husband and they were married 11 years before she died of complications of diabetes.

I have knit a wedding shawl. The pattern I used came from the website The patterns are unbelievably dainty. Be aware that a true shawl takes buckets of hours on 2.5mm needles and very careful blocking but the result was awesome. I gave it to my friend at the bridal shower and we followed tradition and pulled it through her husband-to-be's ring. I also included a card describing the tradition. She did not wear it during the wedding. Instead, it was the tablecloth for the wedding cake. She did wear it during her honeymoon in Nassau. She also wore it to the baptism of her new baby boy two months ago and continues to wear it on very special occasions.

Good luck with the kntting. Start it in plenty of time -- it gets fairly tedious depending on the pattern and the size.

Faith said...

I love the punchline to the topic of fast-but-lasting-love here: "I don't know what to knit!" The pace and rhythm of this post made me bust out laughing when you finally brought up the topic of the shawl. Well done!