Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happily Ever Old Balls

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I know what I want, I want what I want, and I want it now.

It's a phrase that's usually shortened to "I want what I want!" and yelled mockingly at my poor fiancee as he shields his head and ducks into the furthest corner of the room. It was pinpointed several months ago and we've been laughing about it ever since.

This is me summed up into one of the most condensed synopses I've ever heard and I've been like this to some degree since I came out of the womb. At a young age, my dad would smile and say things to me like, "You've got your own sense of style, kid," and a friend at high school graduation said in a letter, "I admire you because you never settle." These are things that I hold close and refer to when the thoughts race and I become my own worst enemy.

It's a personal philosophy. The decisions that affect my own future - career, family, health, big events, etc. - are ones that are made and moved towards (or away from) in this straightforward, tenacious way. Don't force it, but don't settle either. It's life a la carte.

Marriage is definitely one of those kinds of decisions. I always knew I’d be an “older” bride because my to do list is long and marriage has always been at the bottom of that list. I want my own life first – to be fully formed as a human being – before sharing it with somebody else…and the person had to be just right AND it would only happen if it was for the right reasons. It’s a laundry list that so many choose to ignore.

If you've read this blog back a few years, you'll see that I've had a couple shitload of bad dates. Like A LOT of BAAAAD dates. If it just faded away because of lack of interest or the thousand other mundane reasons people decide not to continue seeing each other and didn't end in some weird fiery fiasco, I felt relatively unscathed. Of course, then there was no hilarious story to tell at my (or his) expense on this blog. But, despite the dating disasters, I have had a handful of serious relationships and at least three of them where marriage became a hot topic. Now, I'm not saying, "I'm so awesome and desirable because three dudes wanted to marry me...beating them off with a stick and what not," because here's the deal:  They didn't want ME, they wanted marriage...or at least they thought they did. I was just a warm body with the right anatomy suited for a heterosexual male.

Marriage has become this "thing" instead of the feeling that it's supposed to be. It's beat into us from day one of our existence by society and "The Evil Wedding Industry." We "get married" on the playground with dandelions and tissue paper veils and everybody is in such a goddamn hurry to "begin their lives" that they never actually think about what they really want or take a look at who they're doing it with. It's just the thing you do and the settle factor is huge…why do you think divorce rates are so high? Get married and get married at all costs...mindlessly...just hurry up. And, if you don't, prepare to face the wrath of pity looks and whispers of "spinster" and "crazy cat lady."

It's all just so ridiculous and dangerous and I knew that early on. Instead of housewife, I played hotel mogul as a child and wanted to beat the boys at everything from spelling bees to tug of war instead of marry them by the swings. I might have responded fairly harshly to the trio that bombarded me with marriage, marriage, marriage at different points of my life with something like, "I want to go to college, I want a career, I want to have fun and run free, I WANT what I WANT, now get the hell out of my way!" It was basically borderline offensive to me that they would even bring up the subject. Instead, I could have just said, "No thank you, I'd rather be married to just me right now...and you just don't get it." But, you know, that's not really how I roll...plus it's hard to get through to a person hypnotized by the act of marriage without some force.

Let's just say I fought for my 20s. Those years are mine and mine alone. That's when you change and grow and have fun and run around wild being a dumbass and have bad dates and make decisions just for you and love every second of it. That's exactly what I wanted to do and that's exactly what I did. My life began a long time ago and it wasn't marked by marriage. I took that precious time just for me that so many people miss because they're in such a hurry. The way I looked at it, if I was going to get married, it was going to be when I was older and wiser...not in my 20s, not because of perceived pressure caused by onlookers or urgency presented by a ticking biological clock and not because I was dating some guy for an allotted amount of time like so many others do.

I was busy and happy with my lovely life when Pat showed up...extremely busy, in fact, working and going to graduate school in a brand new city. That combined with a touch of jaded from all those bad dates made me very nonchalant about the whole thing. I wasn't prepared for the easygoing, effortless relationship that came out of it. There were no grand gestures or phony bullshit - I liked him because he was a genuine person, he laughed at my quirks instead of shooting me scared looks and was open about who he was and what he thought. I knew I wanted to marry him…someday…after two weeks and when we decided to be exclusive, I laid it out on the table:  This relationship was going to be honest and mature - we were not going to lie to each other and we were going to treat each other with respect. There were no unrealistic "please-don't-break-my-heart" ultimatums, strangleholds or taming involved. Don't force it, just let it happen and along the way, let's be nice to each other. If not, I didn't want any part of it. Instead of being taken aback by my honesty, he gave a reassuring, "OK, that's how I want it to be, too." He just got it like nobody else ever did.

I like that we're two different people with different thoughts and interests that come together at just the right areas and moments to complement each other. He stands by my side, not smothering, but not distant and just lets me be me. He’s a calming source for my light-a-fire-under-your-ass mentality and I provide another way of looking at things for him. I created my own life; Pat enriches it and that's exactly the way I always wanted it to be.

And, now, after living together and a surprise engagement just shy of our two-year anniversary, we’re planning our wedding…or what will be something of the sort. It's been several weeks of traditional meets unconventional. Me reminding him that we don't have to conform to this meaningless mold placed in front of us and him saying that we don't need to be different for the sake of being different (Eh, call me entrepreneurial). But, what we do agree on is that we want it to be about us. Him, me and us. I'm sick of bouquet tosses and sweatshirts bedazzled with "BRIDE." I hate church pews and folding chairs lined up in neat little rows. I can't stand crunchy white tulle or "unity" anythings and all bridal gowns make me want to barf. Religion and the same old, same old can stay out of it and the unsolicited advice flying at my face from all corners of the world is obnoxious because it doesn't apply. It all means nothing to me and I'm not buying in to all that wedding industry or guilt-me-into-it crap. Maybe I'm missing some sort of bride gene, but I've always done things my own way and the only opinions I care about in this situation are the ones of the two people involved. We’re doing it our way.

So, on April 5, 2014, a few weeks before my 31st birthday and a few months after Pat's 37th birthday we'll be getting married in Kansas City in a ceremony that resembles a wedding, but will actually be meaningful to the both of us with every word and tiny detail a subtle to raging nod at who we are individually and together. We're a geriatric bride and groom, eating our dinner of prunes at 4:30 p.m. sharp, compared to the vast majority of couples at this stage and I love that. This is what the right reasons and not settling look like.

What can I say? I want what I want.

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