The world has been hinting at the beginnings of change recently.
I suppose it all began when I became engaged* a few weeks ago now. For the first few weeks after Chris asked me to marry him, I was on the ceiling with joy. In the celebratory period post receiving the big diamond there’s a lot of joy inducing events. Telling your parents**, getting messages and cards, eating self-declared ‘hey-we’re-enegaged-red-velvet-because-red-is-for-love’ cake***. Seriously, it’s an amazing feeling. Then reality decided it was time to halt the fun.
I’m not sure if this happens to all brides-to-be post engagement, as I don’t have a frame of reference, but if it does no body warned me about it. It happened to me though. I caught sight of myself in the mirror while pondering my future wedding, and quite suddenly, I was hit by the realisation that I was going to be someone’s wife. I have named this phenomenon ‘the post proposal kick in the adult’.
For the first time, getting married wasn’t a abstract idea I had dreamed up for future, grown-up Alice. I was/am grown-up Alice. Realising that, made me feel as though I should be a big strong adult. Which I am not^. In many, many ways, I’m not even close. I have small successes; I fill in my tax return and pay those taxes on time, I manage to hoover once a week, and I don’t eat ice-cream for every meal, every day, which believe it or not was something I actually thought I would do when I was four. But, I’m not an adult in the sense I hoped I would be by now.
Adults are supposed to know what they’re doing. Adults are supposed to have a clue about what they really want to do with their lives. Adults are supposed to have made significant life achievements based on clear, concise goals. If you’re keeping score, I am none for three.
It was only after all those adult successes that I was meant to bump into the love of my life and have him ask to marry me. I was supposed to beguile him with stories about how my clear, concise goals, led me to my true purpose in life. Instead, I managed to somehow beguile him with TV show and video game references, and endless rants about books. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful he did bump into me when he did, but part of me feels like I cheated. I skipped a few stages of being an adult.
Now, I find myself wondering what I do want from life. My clear, concise goals are muddy and haphazard at best.
Then life really started to kick some hints into me. Soon after my engagement, I was hurt by a friend – and I have no idea how to deal with it. Yep. I, a grown ass woman of nearly 28^^, is unsure how to tell a friend she really hurt me with something she did. That’s another loss in the adult. For those keeping score, I’m none for four. But I’m getting off-topic. I’ll keep you posted on the friend-hurt-me scenario. Let’s continue.
My job is winding down to probable closure in the next few months. Normally, that would be terrifying, especially for me, an anxiety-ridden, over-analyzing, crazy woman. I can get myself half-crazed about the consequences of not paying a bill on time, usually the idea of not having a job^^^ freaks me out. I’ve lived on bread-lines even with employment, in tiny rooms with nothing but cheap cans of soup and loving donations for food. This should, by the laws of nature, scare me. Except it doesn’t. Not at all.
So much has changed in my life over the past few years; I moved twice, I met Chris, I somehow duped him into falling in love with me, I left jobs, I had no job, I got another job, I’ve been on many miles of trips. I blinked and being an adult just happened without much input from me.
And I have had some incredible experiences; stories I’m glad I’ll be able to tell for years to come^*. Now, though, I feel like I should be taking life by the reigns a little more, actively discovering what I want, aiming for dreams, making big decisions, maybe even, big changes. Because, being an adult is nearly as terrifying as it used to be. I’ve been adulting for many years without much effort, and even when I’ve screwed up spectacularly, I’ve always landed on my feet. Albeit my landing is often wobbly, but I’ve conquered a lot of difficulties and lived to tell the tale.
I’m beginning to think being an adult is more about bravery and faith. Bravery enough to make important choices even though life is fraught with unpredictability, and faith enough to know that even if the walls cave in around you, somehow you’ll come through alright in the end. Maybe it’s just time for me to start making brave choices rather than just letting choices find me.
Even is that means starting again somewhere. Even if that means no job security and little pay. Even if that means giving up what you’ve become accustomed to in the pursuit of something desired but unlikely. It’s about deciding to take the next step in life before you have to, before you need to, just because you want to, even though it might change everything, even though it might unwind through your fingers like a pulled thread.
I think it’s time I got brave enough to make some big decisions for myself and for our future together. Brave enough to suggest moving onward into uncertainty. Maybe then I’ll feel adult enough to be a married lady, to be a wife.
Or maybe I won’t. There are no guarantees*^.
*Am I using this as an excuse to casually slip in that I’m engaged? Yes, but it does fit in with the story. I’m not proud… but I am engaged. Hey, look, just did it again. This might continue for the next few posts. Just think about how bad it will be when I actually get married.
**Who, incidentally, already knew what was coming, because Chris followed the rules of asking for my hand by requesting my father’s permission before-hand. At Easter apparently. Okay… apparently a lot of these notes are going to be I’m engaged related, but I promise the point of the post is not that I am engaged. Which I am. Engaged. …. I’ll try to stop.
***Patent pending. Believe it or not, when we were picking the cake, Chris actually said “red velvet is red, and red is for love”. Thus the name was coined.
^But I am engaged. Sorry, last one.
^^^Sidenote: The prospect of not having a job has happened three times in my life, including this one. The first time I had already picked the box I was going to live in on Plymouth’s cold, rain-soaked streets. I was going to befriend a raccoon and go on happy-go-lucky adventures as a love-able street urchin, only older. …. Maybe I should count that as a missed opportunity.Sometimes I wonder where Target-Tail the raccoon is without me. I hope he’s happy.
^*Many of which I still haven’t told my hypothetical audience. Hey! There’s an idea. I could regale you guys with stories from my not-blogging stuff I should blog days. Wouldn’t that be fun? … Guys? Or I’ll just save it for the future kids. Whatever.
*^ Right Rinoa? Do all my FF peeps remember that one? Obscure video game references make me seem so much more adult, no?
When I was a child (perhaps 8 at most) I was sitting in the living room of our then house playing* while my dad was watching a film set in what must have been Victorian times. I was slipping in and out of attention to it, as kids do, but I remember being struck by a scene in which a dashing gentleman asked an aging dignitary if he could have his daughter’s hand.
“Why does he want a hand?”
“It means he wants to marry that man’s daughter,” replied my dad.
“Oh. Why is he asking? Why doesn’t he just marry her?”
“It’s traditional to get a daddy’s permission** before a man asks a lady to marry him.”
“Oh. Does that mean if a man wants to marry me, he needs to ask you for my hand?”
“Yes, but don’t worry, I’ll make him take the rest of you as well.”
Thus began a list of stipulations in my young mind about what my future paramour would have to do before I would agree to wed him. Obviously, as was proper, he would have to seek and gain my father’s approval and permission. I have always trusted my father would never sanction any man he deemed unfit to be my husband. As I grew up I began to understand that this was an out-dated, actually rather un-feminist tradition based more on the idea of passing property and status than a girl’s happiness, but my heart clung to it. For me, if the man who had raised me and protected me, and loved me without condition, gave his go-ahead, I felt I really must be in safe hands. And so it has remained an important part of any proposal, and I have let all possible suitors*** know this.
I have always reserved the right to say ‘try again’ if he lacked the courtesy of getting down on one knee. I mean… right?
Lastly, a speech. It didn’t have to be saccharine or long, just sincere and conveying the reasons why marriage (and marriage to me in particular) is an important step he is now ready to take. And why he thinks I should be ready to take it to.
Just three non-optional stipulations a man had to overcome to ‘win my hand’^. In a book I love, a character tells her partner, in no uncertain terms, that before he can ask to marry her, he must achieve three great deeds. I would much rather fight the dragons and walk the darkness with the man I love rather than have him do it for me, but I consider these three stipulations rather like the ‘great deeds’ a man must complete to earn his right to get a ‘yes’. Maybe not a feminist or modern-age way of doing these things, but hey-ho, there you go.
Of course, outside of those mandatory stipulations, I harbored hopes about how a man would propose to me. I wanted to be surprised, and swept of my feet. I wanted it to be perfect for us. I wanted special and magic and beautiful.
And then it happened.
I expected so much to happen when I was proposed to; I believed it would be important, where and when and how it happened; the speech, the candles and flowers, the ring^^, and romance. Really though, as soon as the question is out and around you, the only significant factor of a proposal: the person.
The truth is in the quiet moment that follows, when your heart jumps and then stops, when your voices catches in your breath, the place and time fade into the background, until you’re left with a human being kneeling before you waiting on one word.
Here before me was a person who had walked into my life just over two years ago, and started adding stuff, like magic and adventure and laughter and swords^^^, and all the really important stuff, like support and fun and generosity and courage and acceptance and kindness. And understanding. He just seemed to get all the less admirable qualities in me – all the bad anxiety days when I would withdraw, or cry, or find nothing good in myself or sometimes even the world. And he would come and hold me, or just be still and silent with me, or remind me why I have value and show me just a smidgen^* of the beauty in other people and the world. He can just make me laugh, no matter what mood I’m in; I can be drenched in my own tears and snot, or so worried my heart is beating too fast and he will say or do something which forces me to smile. I really am not sure how; I believe it’s just a wonderful aspect of who he is.
Here before me was my partner. Someone who had stood beside me during the dark days of both our lives. Someone who was always honest about our relationship, about our future and about his past. Someone who both trusted me with his broken bits and could be trusted with mine. Whenever some difficultly arises in our relationship, I always know I can speak honestly about it, when I am calm and ready, and be listened to and valued, and I have been amazed at how my comments are met with genuine understanding, and an active effort to better the problem which is instant and consistent. I see him making the effort to create lasting harmony between us, and I am always grateful for someone who believes in us enough to do so.
I saw this person who had been so easy to love from the beginning, the process of which had been as wonderful and as simple as stepping out into a beautiful morning, in the honey glow of a summer day, colours so much more vivid. Everything about is had been gentle and private – our meeting, our first kiss, our goodbyes and reunions, and all the little everyday adventures, going on holiday, making dinner, talking well past bed time about everything from the NFL to books and writing. Whatever we did was better because we were together. That’s all we needed. Just us.
It was no different when it came to the proposal. On an ordinary morning on May 28th*^, as gentle as as simple as all our engagements, Chris decided to ask if I would marry him, and that was all that mattered.
Did I want to be with this person for the rest of my life?
No. Not just the rest of my life.
A lifetime wasn’t nearly long enough. Forever could never be long enough to love and be with him.
So, I said yes.
*Probably Barbie was rescuing my little pony figures from the peril of my sister’s action man villains. Or possibly they were hosting a party with the villains. I can’t remember exactly.
**And I remember being extremely proud of myself that I knew what that meant.
***Two. There have only ever been two serious suitors who might ask for my hand in marriage, and one of them, I am pretty sure, would have received a resounding ‘no’ when he asked my father.
^And the rest of me too.
^^The ring, just by the way, genuinely struck me as incredible. Chris, all credit to him, managed, by himself, to venture into the jungle of engagement rings and strike gold. Now, I must admit here, I doubted him. Just a little. Simply because he is a man with little care to artistic design. Yet, I don’t think I could have chosen a better ring myself. So, bravo, Chris, bravo. I shall never doubt your jewellery picking ability again. But also, now you have no excuse for not buying me jewellery. …. I get to squeal about the ring.
^^^Both metaphorically and actual. There is a real sword in our living room, which has become the point of focus for many guests, and which sometimes I remove carefully and use to duel the powers of darkness while riding my imaginary dragon. I always win.
^*There’s a word I don’t think we as a society use enough ‘smidgen’ – say it lots. It’s kinda fun.
*^Yep, it’s taken me that long to get this post written. No sign of those Winchester blogs I promised yet either. It’s a wonder I have any hypothetical audience at all.