My sister has been teasing Ryan and I for having such a short engagement, echoing everyone's suspicion that I'm pregnant (I'm not). In the latest twist of her running gag she has registered me on Babies R Us. A healthy sense of humor runs in the family. The moment Ryan and I announced a four month engagement tongues began to wag and all I say is there are going to be a lot of disappointed folks five months from now when there's no baby. We're just in love, and want to be married as soon as possible--and the sad part is no one seems to understand this reason. Has the wedding industry really dragged us that far from love and romance? When I was a little girl I delighted in Edward Lear's 'The Owl and the Pussycat' and their romantic getaway in a pea green boat to elope on a distant shore. Would the Owl and the Pussycat have to share an 18 month engagement now to pay for a lavish wedding? How can I explain the marrying urge Ryan and I have when folks just can't understand a four month engagement anymore?
I was in college I first met Ryan. Then he was a tall, lanky teenager in long, baggy pants he’d painted himself to look like stained glass. Over the years as we kept in touch he grew into a confident, hilarious, gorgeous maniac and when he finally got up the courage to ask me on a date my heart melted for him about two hours in. We fell in love by the next day, there was no preventing it despite the fact that he had built a life for himself in Seattle, WA and I was still living in our hometown in Rhode Island. We had just enough in common—art and sense of humor—that we’d admired one another from afar for years. He showed me a business card of mine he’d kept, I’d given it to him one 4th of July when he was about 19. Our sense of humor, our shared interests, and—I won’t lie—a strong chemistry bonded us close and quick.
As I type he is practicing a new funny face in the mirror and laughing hysterically to himself. He’s everything I wanted in someone to love: funny and sweet for funny and sweet’s sake.
We both had difficult pasts. When we were first dating Ryan confessed to me that he somehow admired my health difficulties, even my early short marriage and divorce years back. “You’ve been through something real. A lot of young people spend their time thinking they have it so hard and they’re so deep, they get sad when they’ve never had anything really happen to them. They get sad out of boredom, almost. You had some real stuff happen to you, and you just kept going. And you’re funny and eager to experience more on top of it.” That touched me deeply, that he saw the sad things I’d been through—the things I certainly had felt badly sharing with men before—as assets. I could see where he would appreciate it. Ryan lost his mother to cancer at 17, only to be thrown out of his home by his step father months later. Where I’ve seen some sadness, he’s seen more. He left everything he knew to pursue a career in animation, he’s very successful for his age, and he made everything happen himself. He put himself into situations where he had no choice but to succeed. He was grateful I had witnessed some of the world’s bad times where other men couldn’t handle it because their lives had been sunnier. Ryan got it, he understood chasing and nurturing happiness. He’s not a person who gets mopey—he knows what actual sadness is and why wallowing is a horrible feeling. He’s laid back and content, he’s loving and gentle. He makes jokes to keep laughter always close at hand, he tells me he loves me 6-7 times a day, we hold each other close and say things like, “I’m so glad we’re young, and healthy, and together.”
Marrying Ryan feels like the most natural thing in the world. I just want to spend evenings hearing him softly sing to himself (as he is doing now). I’ve always felt like a separate character as it were, the great and unstoppable me. Even dating people in the past 3-4 years, I was firmly defined: they were the person I was dating, I was me with my goals and them with theirs. As awful as it is to admit I often made fun of them with my friends. I had this blackened reputation as sort of a heart breaker, but I had my share of heartaches too. My sister can back me up, she was one of the few people to know me well enough to share them. I just always kept the line between them and myself sharply defined.
However, I lost myself in Ryan immediately, and he in me. I loved him as dearly as any friend, because he had been a friend to begin with. There’s no making fun of him, because he makes his own funny stories by just being outstandingly wild. He took my goals and added them to his. I added his to mine. His career can be demanding, I take care of all the home stuff and have dinners ready. My career aspirations require a lot of time and effort, he supports us so I can spend the day illustrating and courting promotions. We work together helping one another, we sacrifice together, we celebrate together. We set our pasts aside and re-wrote our futures around each other.
He’s the only person I can see myself with anymore. I could never bear the thought of living without him. We’ll live our lives together, and be rewarded with one of us dying first—and that scares both of us. Maybe that’s when you know it’s time to get married, when you know you don’t want to miss one second, even the scary final ones. Even when you know the reward for true love is going to be unspeakable pain sixty years from now (if you’re lucky). Whether you’re the one dying, or the one who stays, you’re both torn apart for a few years until the great black beyond.
If there’s Heaven (and I pray there is), you can meet there. If you have children, your DNA will intertwine through them. Two silken ribbons of life united through the generations, thousands of years into the future: A person in 4011 with my eye shape and Ryan’s iris color. And if you never have children, you’ll fall back into dust, the same star dust we all supposedly came from, and one day you’ll be drifting in the same spiraling cosmos with all the people you’ve loved, known, or heard of. In a very real way we never quite disappear, that’s known certainly from the ol’ ‘matter can neither be created nor destroyed’. A piece of you will remain, an ash, a speck, a sparkle, and that piece will drift until it’s reunited with its most familiar speck. We’ll all be together, on a mantle, on a table top, drawn toward a collapsing star together.
There’s a lot of time to be that. And only a blink to be who we want to be, and be with who we want to be. I don’t know if realizing that is when you know it’s time to get married, but take it from me: when you know, it’s unmistakable. And remarkable. And utterly wonderful.