I am a weird mix of patient and toe-tappingly jittery. As a child, I never once tried to find my Christmas presents, never wanted to trick anyone into telling me what they’d be, never even minded waiting to do our stockings until right before dinner (a stroke of maternal genius-qua-blackmail that ensured my mom could get us up off our duffs and presentable for the big meal). And yet, on Christmas morning, I was a bundle of energy, tumbling down the stairs to get to everything under the tree. I could not WAIT. Except, of course, I had been, and I’d been loving it. Anticipation can be delicious. It’s emotional chocolate. To this day, per our tradition, I never open a birthday present until the end of the day, because I love having the ramp-up period of knowing everything will end in one big explosion of awesome.
Of course, then there are times when things don’t live up to the way you want them to be, like the fourth Harry Potter movie (Goblet of Fire was a great book that isn’t done justice by that adaptation), or pretty much any show NBC tries to make that resurrects a beloved character from our youths. That’s a bit what it was like when I received my box of Spoiled advance reading copies. It was the first time I’d be seeing our baby in print, bound, a tangible book that looked like it would fit on airport shelves or in Target or at Barnes and Noble. A real thing. Something we’d actually done. I could hear the dramatic movie-music swelling in the background.
And then I opened the box.
Cue the Tyra Banks sound from that one Top Model episode: “Wah-waaaaah.” Three or four of my copies had gotten water damaged. The covers were matted, torn, blurred, or or pulpy, and the copies themselves were dirty and swollen with water (isn’t it curious to see that they bloat just like people do? It’s like in Jasper Fforde’s books — THEY’RE ALIVE).
Fortunately, there were plenty of other untouched and beautiful books in the box with them, and I did get misty-eyed and I may have cuddled one for about fifteen minutes. But it reminded me of my tendency to put undue pressure on something that may never live up to the trumpets-and-hallelujahs I’m ascribing to it in my head. Case in point: my wedding day.
That is misleading. My wedding day was fantastic, a great party, one of the best days of my life and something I relive in my mind every day. But my husband and I had put off seeing each other until I walked down the aisle, because we wanted — okay, I wanted; he probably didn’t mind either way — that Big Moment of first eye contact. That heart-stopping “There he is”/”There she is” connection, that time where your hearts swell with hope and happiness and love. And there I pranced up the aisle, beaming on my father’s arm toward my beloved groom, thinking everything was going according to plan. Then later, I found out that the entire time, Kevin’s only thought was, “Is my fly down?” Because the church’s designated wedding coordinator started the wedding WITHOUT TELLING HIM. He was in the bathroom. By the time he washed his hands and ran out there, two groomsmen were already in place.
And yet, my marriage is amazing. And our book? I’m biased, but I think our book is amazing, too. So while sometimes it’s great to prize The Moment, life is more than just the sum of a bunch of Pows and the BOOMs and the fireworks. It’s all the in-between, and it’s the day-to-day, and the lasting magic rather than a brief, bright flash in the sky. So, yes, I was bummed that my first view of Spoiled had mildew in it, and that my husband was thinking about his zipper. (For the record, it was not open. Ours was a G-rated wedding.) But now they’re things I laugh about, stories I have more fun telling than I would in rehashing some And Then Angels Came Down From On High With Bagels And Cream Cheese And Sang Celine Dion At Us moment. It’s like in Spoiled itself — the best stuff comes from what happens when your life veers into improv.