Even today it’s a widespread belief that a woman’s complete happiness lays in the pleasures of a Home and a Family. But for you, Elsa, it has never been like that.
You have never dreamt about the white bridal gown, and have always laughed at me who, since my childhood, have seen myself as a mother. Between us you were the emancipated girl, the one who said: «Freedom comes first».
I can still see you with the backpack and your military boots on, dragging me into one of your mad travels, when only the one-way flight was booked. And I can still hear your voice ringing in my ear, and slyly saying: «If you want a child, you don’t necessarily need a husband».
Again and again I ask myself what I am doing here or, better, what you are doing on that altar, overloaded with sickly budding roses. What are you doing, sheathed in this white gown, with your blazing and baroque curly hairstyle, and this skilful makeup on, artfully magnifying your eyes?
Even in this place I am by your side, as usual; anyway, how could have I avoided this duty? me, your best friend forever, shrinking from the role of your bridesmaid?
The priest’s voice is just a vague buzz while I’m glancing at your face, so stiff and concentrated under the apricot foundation and, close to you, at your groom’s blissful smile.
What the fuck do you think you’re doing? No doubt he’s a good man. But, how can you see yourself, on every single blessed Sunday, have lunch at his parents’? All of you sitting on those chairs that – as you have told me with a laugh – still have the cellophane cover wrapped on their cushions?
The priest continues the rite, now everyone stands up on their feet. Your father, that big fucking cheater, dries his tears; I exchange glances with your mother’s Tavor-blurred eyes, and mentally implore her to do something, to prevent you, a daughter so different from her, from making a mistake so similar to her own.
«Since it is your intention to enter into marriage…».
Even a would-be Buddhist like me knows that the moment of the exchange of vows has come.
Gianluigi’s voice is faltering, his words can hardly be perceived: «I, Gianluigi, take you, Elsa, to be my lawful wife».
Now it’s your turn and I want to shout No!, It Can’t Be Done! Everything Is Wrong!
«I, Elsa…». Your voice cracks, your hands contract and clench into fists, and the silence wraps the aisle.
You clear your voice and raise your chin with that defiant look I know so well. «…take you, Gianluigi, to be my lawful husband».
At last your hands relax for the exchange of rings.
What will happen, next? I will drink myself stupid, while you will have your “two weeks in a wonderful holiday camp for young couples: sunshine, seaside and culture from Mexico”, as the travel agency leaflet says.
How ironic! Just married you’re going back to the place where we first kissed.
Translation by Michele Curatolo (edited by Chiara Canova and Robert Mardle)