One of the consequences of my five-year student life has been the creation of several different "versions" of Alison. There was the "DC Alison" who worked on the Hill, helped write speeches, and ran around feeling generally self-important. There was "Teacher Alison" who swung on the swing set and planned medieval fairs. They're both on hiatus, but there's still "FDW Alison" (who works as a mediocre, low-level office gopher for a high-class, high-pressure law firm) and "Graduate Student Alison" (who stares at centuries-old books and writes about them all day). Each existence has become almost discrete in my mind, like a being from another life--or another world.
In this context, being a bride-to-be has been especially bizarre. In Oxford, so far from the Adam and the family who will celebrate with me, it's hard to believe that "Bride Alison." "Oxford Alison" doesn't choose china patterns or shop for apartments--she spends five hours tracking the rhyme scheme of an obscure medieval saint's life. I love my life, but it feels like the life I love is so different than the one "Bride Alison" loves when she's talking to her mom or excitedly picking her flowers.
I guess I expected my engagement to be life changing in a way, I now see, it can't possibly be. "Bride Alison" was supposed to be the Alison that united everything, the one that superceded all the others. My expectation may be just another sign that I've bought into "wedding culture" all my life--I'm not sure that, if I were home, it wouldn't lead me to shop endlessly for the perfect dress or build my registry to several hundred gifts just to feel more like a bride.
My life probably won't change as much as I expect, even after my wedding. But at least I'll be something, someone, metaphysically different. Adam and I will be a sacramentally-bound couple, of one flesh. "Married Alison" is the one Alison I'll be forever, until death do us part.