In eleven days, I get to marry someone that I’ve wanted to marry for more than five years.
Have I been ready to marry her for all those years? No. Nope. Not at all. Not even a little bit. When we first met on April 26th, 2011, a relationship wasn’t something that I was ready for in the slightest. I was 22, and here is a list of things that I was equipped for at 22:
- Beating Batman: Arkham City
- Bud Light w/ Lime
That’s it. That’s all I had going for me at that time. We’re always rough drafts of people. Even the elderly probably constantly think to themselves “Well, that was stupid.” I was like a bullet point list of attributes – the physical, mental and spiritual equivalent of a novel that someone excitedly tells you about but can’t find the time to write.
None of my features worked together. I looked like rotting puberty, and I was still stuck with the mindset that jokes were best when you yelled them out at random. There was no rhyme or reason to me. There was male- tall- skinny- funny- likes comedy and reading – gets depressed a lot – owns jeep. I was a bunch of traits in a hat. And what you got depended on how nervous I was around you. And I was so very nervous talking to her. I wanted to impress her by being genuine, but I also wanted her to understand that I was a very cool guy.
It didn’t last long. I probably reeked of artificiality. Being a flesh bag of elbows, I know what it’s like to not fit into any blazer you try on, and my personality was just another over-sized jacket. I wanted to wear my big boy clothes and have my big boy relationship, but there was no chance of that happening at the time. So many relationships failed for me and for my other friends around then because we weren’t real things yet. Sure, we liked “interesting” stuff, but we weren’t interesting people. We weren’t engaging or confident or likable outside of our close friend groups. We were just shadow boxing in our attempts to be seen as legitimate contenders for the title of World Heavyweight Champion of Notice Me.
We stayed friends, and though it was hard for a few months, I managed to do something that I hadn’t when I had dated her – I managed to grow comfortable around her. Had I learned to think of her and consider her wants and needs before my own? Not yet. But that would come later. First, I was able to enjoy time with her, rather than see our meetings as another way to show her that, again, I was a very cool guy. It helped that I was working toward things that I wanted (like she was,) so that I could focus less on “WHAT IF SHE DOESN’T DIG MY SWEET HAIR?” and more on “I want to share with this person the things that are important to me, and I want to know what she thinks is important as well. And fart jokes.”
After about a year and a half, we ended up living in the same town, and promptly started dating, which was nice at first, but I still wasn’t there yet. Neither was she. You imagine that, when you get back together with someone after being broken up, that you’ll have mended all of the things that tore you apart in the first place, but becoming stronger people doesn’t necessarily equate to having a stronger relationship. We lasted longer than we did the first time, but this wasn’t meant to carry on either. We broke up in the summer of 2013, and I moved away, feeling defeated.
We didn’t talk for a while after that. It was agonizing, but it had to happen. Every once in a while, you can be friends with a person you’ve broken up with right after it ends. But most of the time, you need space. You need to learn how to hold your breath without panicking, and how to find the shore on your own. Also, you need to learn how to make comprehensible beach metaphors. I never have.
I dated around, which was fun. I had no luck with it right after college because, if you haven’t read the first seven-hundred-and-thirty-seven words of this, TL;DR Sad Kid Gets Sadder, but two years made a lot of difference. I began to finally feel like a person, instead of like Frankenstein’s monster. I was no longer a patchwork of my pros and cons. And I didn’t begin talking to her again out of some misplaced sense of vanity, trying to prove to myself that I had overcome my grief and my anxieties. I talked to her because I loved her.
We dated. The first four months weren’t the whirlwind that the last two relationship efforts had been. There was no rush to immediately get to the stage where we were staying at each other’s apartments all the time or pretending that we were somehow different from every other couple that had broken up a few times. We had to go slowly, and learn how to laugh at each other’s jokes with no fear of possibly getting hurt again. We had to figure out how to be loving people that were friends with each other rather than loving people that just loved, loved, loved each other. We weren’t ready to spend every weekend hoping that the other person would think of something more fun to do than watch Netflix until bed. We had to find a balance that we’d never found. We had to be friends, and lovers, and accept each other because of the past we’d had, but also attempt to impress the other, not with fake Super Me’s, but by being the people we’d grown into.
And now, almost three years later, I get to marry her. Is it scary? Yeah. But it’s less of a “SHE’S GONNA MEET A DOCTOR AND LEAVE ME” scary. It’s now a “I’ve got to promise to try and be my best self, even when I don’t feel like it, and I’ve got to hope that we make it.” Marriage isn’t a promise that two people will be together forever. But it is a promise that we’ll both at least try to make it happen.
Yeah, I’m scared. But I’m so, so excited. Eleven days. Oh man.