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Time keeps on slippin'

By Kirsten Valle

Posted: Tuesday, Apr. 20, 2010

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Photo by Critsey Rowe

Kirsten Valle is a business reporter for the Observer. She can be reached at kvalle@charlotteobserver.com.

Read more "Getting to 'I do.'"

It seems like we're always either trying to speed up time or slow it down. It started for me in high school. In our freshman year, my friends and I would say we wanted to stay there forever; by senior year, of course, we couldn't wait to get out. Then, before we knew it, prom was flying by, graduation became a memory, and there we were, hugging goodbye and wishing that summer could last just a few more weeks.

In college, I spent little time wishing away the days and much of it wishing they would pass more slowly, wanting to spend every day stretched out on a sun-drenched quad, marveling with friends at how lucky we were to spend a few years in Chapel Hill. I often repeated what I'd heard once: leaving after four years is like leaving a party at 10 p.m.

I've been just as mixed up about the engagement. Back in July, it felt like a year would stretch on unbearably, mocking me with its sheer length. Then it was six months; now it's less than three. Often, as I've said, it's easy to become so caught up in the planning that you lose track of time. More often, you spend so much time thinking about how wonderful, how calm, how right married life will be that - like those last months of high school - you want to just hurry up and get there.

Some of the best advice I've gotten through this process has been to slow it all down. To savor the engagement, to look around, to breathe. And so in these past few months, as the city has thawed and the sun has come out, I've tried to spend more time in the moment.

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my birthday with some of my best friends, and we spent hours toasting and laughing and eating and dancing. No talk of weddings, no talk of life beyond that night. The next day, Reese and I hung out for what seemed like the entire afternoon on his couch, lazy and unproductive as ever, cracking each other up over nothing at all. I found myself wanting to freeze time, wanting to remember every word we said and every second we spent - a little moment, yet too big to miss. Life is good.

Maybe this happens naturally as the wedding approaches. Maybe I'm conditioned enough by all those past graduations, life changes and big steps to know that I'll be a little sad when it's all over. Maybe slowing it all down is a little bit of denial, too, to ward off the nerves that will inevitably sneak up on me as July approaches.

I had a dress fitting a few weeks ago, and the seamstress commented as she tucked and pinned and lifted and shifted that I was a very laid-back bride. Yet I've had dreams lately - at least once a week, I'd say - that I'm late for my wedding. In one of these dreams, I had just a few minutes throw my hair back in a ponytail - sans flat iron or hot rollers, for crying out loud. In another, I told my bridesmaids that the wedding didn't start until 7 p.m., before realizing it was actually at 3 p.m. and I'd left my fiance standing there at the altar, jilted.

Laid-back in waking life, a panicked mess in my subconscious. I'm not sure what it all means, but I'll say it again: Life is good, and it's also short. Youth is fleeting, and so is a year of engagement. So I'm vowing right here - it's out there now, in writing - to spend these last few months enjoying every minute.

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