Wedding bells are ringing, but Im glad theyre not for me &mdash yet

There’s an old saying in Hebrew that roughly translates to “Don’t worry, it will pass before the wedding.” It is often said to little girls who have fallen and injured themselves and is meant as a consolation to assure all bruised, future brides that any “unattractive” cuts or marks will disappear by their wedding day.

As a little girl, I couldn’t understand how this statement — which was sometimes said to me by my grandmother or aunts — would cure my immediate, physical pain. Nevertheless, I assumed that my cuts had quite a while to heal because getting married seemed light-years away.

But my reality has changed: I celebrated my 24th birthday and, in the coming months, I will graduate from San Francisco State University. More significantly, I’m suddenly bombarded with announcements from friend after friend who is getting married or even pregnant.

For the first time in my life, that opportune “bruise-healing deadline,” or wedding, no longer seems a vague, indistinct impossibility.

Just to set the record straight, I’m not thinking of getting married per se. But I am beginning to feel the subtle pinching of external, familial pressure.

It all began at my sister’s wedding in Israel. I was having a great time dancing, eating and visiting with friends and family, until one of my great-aunts came up to me and — after a quick embrace and a kiss on the cheek — said that other familiar Hebrew adage, “Be’karov ets’lech,” as she walked away.

This literally means “soon it will be yours,” and is usually said to young, single, wedding guests in order to put the “marriage-and-baby” pressure on full force.

I’d been to more family weddings than I could count, but until my great-aunt burst my prematrimonial-age bubble, I never once considered the prospect of it being me behind one of those puffy, gaudy white dresses.

I was instantly reminded of a scene in the comedy, “There’s Something About Mary,” in which Ben Stiller’s character reconnects with his old high school crush (Cameron Diaz) and asks if she’s married.

“No,” she replies, laughing. “I haven’t walked down that plank yet.”

While I no longer conjure metaphors of pirate ships, suicide, or shark-infested waters when thinking of matrimonial union, I still have a hard time accepting the fact that I’ve reached an age at which pressures and talks of marriage are an inevitable reality — at least in my extended family.

The gap between my age and the age at which most people in my family get married is slowly shrinking.

My grandmother was 14 when she married my grandfather. He was 18.

That’s on the extreme end of the spectrum, of course; it was late-1930s Morocco when my grandparents wed. Back then, an early, arranged marriage was the status quo.

Today, the majority of my Israeli cousins are married by their early- to mid-20s — and they are, of course, encouraged to marry someone of their choosing.

My grandparents spent 65 years together, lovingly and dutifully caring for each other. When his health was failing and until my grandfather passed away on Yom Kippur last year, my grandmother sat by his bedside in the crowded geriatric ward of his Jerusalem hospital. She talked to him, comforted and caressed him.

She would tell us, “What, after all this time, I should leave my husband alone? Never.”

At 24, I’m still not ready for marriage. But I’m starting to realize that someday, I might be — that I might want that kind of union myself. For now, I think I’ll wait until I feel truly ready, and not just of a ripe, socially acceptable age.

Just last week I fell and split my lip on a dining room chair. As I walked around the house, icing my swelling injury with a bag of frozen peas and waiting for the pain to subside, I couldn’t help but say, “Don’t worry, it will pass before the wedding.”

Good thing there’s still some time.

Michal Lev-Ram, born in Israel, is a journalism major at SFSU who can be reached at [email protected].