In the summer of 1981, I was 9 years old. That summer, my brother and I spent a couple weeks in Wisconsin with my Grandma Mae, our vacation (or was it my parents’ vacation?) coinciding with the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. My grandma planned to watch it, and I begged her to wake me up to watch the wedding, too, and she did. It was like 4 or 5 in the morning, and even if VCRs had been invented yet, my grandmother wouldn’t have had one; most things, back then, you watched live or you didn’t watch at all. My grandma was likely to be up anyway; she was an early riser. She would get up early and slow-cook hot cereal (usually Cream of Wheat, but sometimes Malt-o-Meal) for hours until we woke up; to this day, the sound of a wooden spoon being knocked against the side of a metal double boiler is, to me, the sound of love.
We…wait, was it we? I can’t remember if my brother got up, too, but he often slept on the couch at my grandma’s, so he may have had no choice. He claims, because I quizzed him about it, that he has a vague memory of the wedding, but doesn’t remember where he was or what time it was. As he was only 6 at the time, I suppose he can be forgiven. But it was pretty exciting to be up early in the morning when it was still dark, because I was 9 and had typical young human reserves of energy and it was my first (and to date, only) royal wedding.
It was such a beautiful start, however bitterly and tragically it ended. I was young and still believed in the fairy tale. I had no reason not to; at that point in my life I didn’t know anybody who had been divorced; not a single soul amongst my own family or the parents of friends. In 1981, I think the whole world was still more innocent…or if not innocent, certainly more blissfully unaware of a lot of things. Cable TV was still new, the internet hadn’t been invented yet, and it could be relatively effortless (at least in the small town I lived in) to live an insulated life.
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t give me pause to recognize that I have clear memories of an event that happened 30 years ago. Only old people have memories that long, and evidently I have arrived.
I will not be getting up in the middle of the night for the royal wedding between Wills and Kate, though, because I’m pushing 40 now, and regardless of age, I’m a person who needs her sleep; the idea of getting up at 1 a.m. (I live 2 time zones to the west now, and we don’t do DST, so it amounts to 3 in the summer) on purpose is an idea that undoubtedly springs from the ninth level of hell. I could just stay up, theoretically, but I am getting on a plane Friday afternoon to head to Montana (where the weather for the weekend frightens me) and I’m going to need my sleep, because dog knows, I certainly won’t get any on the plane.
In any case, getting up in the middle of the night is a wholly unnatural act, and because I live in the future now, I can DVR it and watch it when I get home. There is more spectacle than suspense, and I know how it’s going to turn out. It’ll keep.
I wish William and Catherine well, and I think they will do better than William’s parents did. They’re older, and wiser, and have lived in the world for awhile. William is not marrying a 20-year-old virgin a dozen year his junior that he’s been dating for barely a year; he’s a 28-year-old man marrying a 29-year-old woman he’s been dating forever, and living with for quite awhile. Long enough for them both to know what they’re getting into; not that that confers any guarantees, but it’s certainly a good start. And as he’s currently second in line to the throne, and as his father, if he ever gets his shot at wearing the crown, is likely to hold onto it for as long as he can, maybe they can have some kind of normal life for awhile. I hope, for their sake, they do.