I’m eating the best borscht I’ve ever tasted while listening to a polka band cover Garth Brooks.
Justin and I are having dinner with one of his old fraternity brothers and his fiancee. They’re an adorable couple. We all celebrated their engagement, but no one was surprised by it.
I knew the moment I saw pictures of them apple-picking on Facebook that they were going to get married. It was early on. They weren’t even “Facebook official.” But apple-picking is basically the front porch for weddings. The straight version of a lesbian U-Haul.
They were such a good match that everyone could see it from space. And we were really happy for his fraternity brother, who I’ll call Oliver.
Oliver is truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met — kind, patient, good to people without expecting anything in return. And yet… he had the hardest time finding a long-term relationship. Relatable, really. I’ve known a lot of people like this. Anyway, Oliver finally found someone, and she’s perfect for him. Let’s call her Molly.
And now we’re having dinner with Molly and Oliver at this charmed Eastern European restaurant (very Cleveland). Getting amazing service to boot since Molly grew up with the chef.
I Started Feeling Like an Outsider… and Then It Got Worse
Molly and Oliver both grew up really close to where they live now. All their family members live close by, and they’re very enmeshed in and involved in many family events (baby showers, etc.). They both attend church. All of these elements are one big reason why they’re so compatible.
Justin and I aren’t that way. We have both moved a lot — and we both know the family estrangement dance (me with my nuclear family, Justin with his extended, since his parents are estranged from their own parents for good reason).
I’m feeling a little out of sorts with some of the chat because of this. But I do my best to be friendly. (It’s worth noting that Oliver and Molly are extremely supportive of my strange writing career and the unconventional life I live with Justin.)
And then Oliver reveals the purpose of our dinner: “Justin, I’d like you to be one of my groomsmen.”
I almost cry out of happiness for Justin. I can see how touched he is.
But as they start to discuss logistics of it, that old unwanted feeling hits me full force: I feel distinctly like an outsider.
I Struggle A Lot With “Outsider Feelings” Even When People Get Close to Me
I do my best not to let my discomfort show as my three dinner partners discuss wedding logistics. Because I am happy for them. All of them. I know I’m being silly feeling like an outsider.
I smile and enjoy the paprikash, the borscht, the strange polka covers.
And it’s only once we’ve parted ways and Justin and I are back in our vehicle that I turn to him and tell him how I felt. Not in a blaming way, but matter of factly.
“Awww,” he says, “you’re not an outsider. Molly and Oliver adore you.” He reminds me that I’m invited to the wedding, that I’m going to the rehearsal dinner as a plus one.
“I know,” I reply. “I know it’s just a silly brain weasel thing. I just wanted to make sure I told you so that I wasn’t ashamed of the feeling.”
He smiles. And the thing I like about Justin is that he doesn’t tell anyone. And neither do I, until nearly four years later, when I post this article and those silly feelings are well in my rearview mirror.
I’ve learned to accept them when they crop up. I wish it never happened, but that’s not the case. I do struggle a lot with “outsider feelings” even when people get close to me.
Will they go away completely one day? I have no way to tell. The important thing is that I don’t let them rule my life.
Molly and Oliver had a beautiful wedding. They’re still together. And I still adore them (and I’m pretty sure they are super fond of me, too).