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Plan B
By Molly Each

The post-engagement tweaks in our relationship were small, but significant. I moved to Chicago for grad school and we maintained our best friendmanship via phone calls and emails, but now talk of music, family, and jobs was occasionally infused with mentions of churches and reception halls. An extra week or two came between our conversations, and often Andrea would yell in the background, "Hi Molly!" To which I would say back, "Tell her I said hi," and Youssef always would. I pictured them cooking dinner together, whipping up a gourmet Pad Thai while we talked on the phone and the image in my mind helped me hear the way his voice was steady, ready for the calm and stability of settling down. I understood. Kind of. Finally, a year and a half after the engagement, I was handing my ticket to the Northwest Airlines agent, boarding a plane bound from my current home of Chicago to our hometown of Minneapolis, my best friend's wedding invitation tucked neatly in my purse.

The tears started mid-flight. I was staring at the clouds below and thinking, "Holy shit. Youssef is getting married!" In the car on the way to help him with the place cards, on the way home from picking up my dress from the dry cleaners, to and from the rehearsal dinner, every time I thought about Youssef getting married, I started to bawl.

Okay, I bet you're expecting a tale about how I realized I was truly in love with him and decided to totally sabotage the wedding by spreading rumors between the bride and groom, sending fake emails and then ultimately cornering Youssef and saying, "choose me, marry me," then stealing a bread van to try and get them back together after I ultimately realized how selfish I'd been. But no, I didn't pull a Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding, and THANK GOD because I don't know how that woman even showed her face at the wedding.

But our relationship was definitely going to undergo a makeover.

My Plan B was officially off the market. I saw myself at eighty, clipping coupons while surrounded by my creepy porcelain doll collection, eating ice cream on the couch, never having lived with anyone, never having had kids, going through the next hundred painful breakups without the cushion of Youssef making it all a little more bearable.

I finally got my tears under control on the way to the wedding, as I'd spent a lot of time on my eye makeup. I went to say hi to Andrea as she was getting ready.

She turned away from the mirror where she was straightening her veil. "Have you seen him? How is he doing?"

I thought about how I'd hung out with Youssef a few minutes earlier and he was all smiles. He was like this enormous ball of energy and couldn't stop hugging me and was pretty much skipping from car to bathroom to church.

"He's bouncing off the walls," I said. "I've never seen him so excited." She teared up, then quickly started fanning her eyes to preserve her mascara. "Oh my gosh, he is? Really? That makes me so happy!"

Now that was a Plan A reaction. And my best friend was going to be with his Plan A! He found her. All this Plan B stuff suddenly seemed ridiculous because how could I have wanted anything less than a Plan A for my bestie? I wouldn't want him to end up with me, even if we were both old and lonely, because I would never tear up after hearing something like that about him.

I sat in the second row, holding my reading (NOT the Corinthians stuff, thank you) and as I watched Youssef I knew that our relationship was just headed to the next phase. That phase that involves wives and husbands and kids and careers and moving and settling down; which is probably the most exciting thing to happen to our friendship. To take our relationship through the different levels of life is going to be an adventure and he is my clear-cut, no-doubt-about-it Plan A for that. And you know what? He'll still be there for me at the end of a hundred horrible break-ups, making it all bearable. But now Andrea will be there too.

And just as that Duh-Duh-Duh-Duh began, Youssef looked right over at me, smiled and winked. Then he looked towards the entrance of the church as the doors opened, and Andrea started walking down the aisle. He stood up straighter, this enormous smile spread across his face and I saw tears shining in his eyes. And I got that absolutely, unbelievably happy feeling, where my heart is like, taking up my whole chest and I got this like, fizziness in my nose and I could burst into tears at any moment out of pure joy because I'm one of those happy and sad criers and my mind just stopped to take a picture of everything about that moment.

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