Saturday, May 31, 2014

Oddly Opalescent Osculate

One of the latest series I binged on is Breaking Amish. Putting aside how completely alien their upbringing was or how ignorant they are of social norms, watching a wedding in the show brought me back to my own wedding day. The bride and groom both fidgeting endlessly, the best man even telling his friend, "You can still back out if you're not sure."

Apparently a lot of people are nervous on their wedding day. Neither Nick or I were. It was strange, I remember asking him if that made us abnormal. He shrugged, letting my moment of concern roll off his shoulders like every other worry I ever have. This is one of the million things I love about him. I worry, he reassures. Certain issues the roles are reversed but often it is his calm, optimistic demeanor that gets me through my darkest moments of dread.

We had been dating for two years prior to our wedding day. The day we started dating, in fact, was the day I broke up with my previous boyfriend. I was on a crazy bender, being drunk for a full 24 hours and going to the high school with a water bottle filled with a margarita to finally declare a time of death for a relationship that ceased to have a pulse long ago.

We hadn't been connecting for months. Our anniversary had been semi-recently and it was a nice day but the whole thing felt like an episode on a sitcom where I was just playing the role of enamored girlfriend. He was kind and smart but we long since stopped being compatible. I was just too much of a coward to face being alone and it wasn't until I fell in love with Nicholas that I was willing to leave him.

A couple hours later, after crying almost the entire time (I think I even called him in my hysterical, drunk state), I had finished my mourning. It was strange, I still cared deeply about Lucas but I had known for so long we just didn't fit right. Yet a two year relationship is still pretty upsetting to end and I'm an emotional person even when I'm not full of liquor.

Nicholas, my friends Michael, CJ and I were in the car parked at the cemetery so we could get high when I very unceremoniously asked him if we were dating now. That's kind of a defining factor of our relationship. The big things that are supposed to be super dramatic have generally been low key whereas other moments with no significant meaning are ripe with sweeping gestures and grand confessions of love.

The proposal came in two stages. First, what we called the "pre-proposal". Nicholas drove me around town while we listened to all the important music from the course of our relationship, pointing out where we had our first kiss, where he almost gave up his pursuit of me, where I unintentionally convinced him to keep trying, where I first told him I loved him, all that goopy romantic junk. I play it down like it's dumb and stereotypical, and maybe it is, but he remembered everything and it was super goddamn adorable.

Then we walked down to the marina, a place that's so ripe with memories that I can barely take a step without having a flashback. Where Nicholas stopped me from killing myself. Where we drank stolen liquor and whispered secrets we'd never told anyone else. Where we came to play after the sun set. Flying kites, smoking Camels, chasing each other and making out. At the end of the peninsula that juts out from the park, he bent down on one knee, presented me a beautiful white topaz ring and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Without hesitation, after dating for a mere six months, I said "yes" and have never regretted it.

We called it a pre-proposal because we didn't want to get shit from people for getting engaged after dating so briefly. It was a private affair and we told very few people. Plus Nicholas wanted to get me a more expensive ring even though I already thought he'd spent too much. Jewelry is lovely but terribly impractical.
Nicholas went to Oklahoma a little over a year after he asked me to marry him. It was the worst three months of my life after leaving Illinois. Our relationship was strained and the only thing keeping me going was my therapy. It wasn't enough though and I felt empty and alone constantly, like a piece of me had been mercilessly cut out. Though I'm not proud of it, I gave Nicholas an ultimatum. Come back or we're done. He left for Michigan the next day.

Seeing him again after so long was strange. Not only had we both changed in appearance, each of us having lost weight in addition to other physical things, but I've always been sort of like a dog. Once something or someone is out of my life for a while, I begin to forget everything about them. It was like getting to know him all over again. I reacquainted myself with his smell, his voice, his smile, his warmth. He went from an idea in my head that I was clinging onto, trying desperately not to forget, to full fledged wonderful reality.

The past few months had been hell - I'd tried new drugs, I was raped, I had almost no friends, I'd gotten into legal trouble, I drank almost incessantly - but we fell back into each other like nothing had changed and for the first time since he left, I felt whole again. We made love and I wept. He held me and finally, finally I wasn't afraid.

I went on a cruise with my mother a few months later. I remember being so frightened that by the time I came back, he'd be gone or fucking someone or would realize he didn't want me. We had been discussing our wedding plans frequently. When we went back down to Oklahoma (oh the places we'll go for love), we'd have a wedding down there. Black and sky blue colors, different flavored layers in the cake, a giant bubble machine and mandatory dance routines for all the bridesmaids and whatever the male version of those are called. Groomsmen? When we came back, though, there he was in the airport, waiting to pick us up. I had loved Alaska but missed him every day. My heart leapt when I saw him and when we embraced I wondered to myself, why haven't we gotten married yet? I don't care about a ring, a ceremony, anything.

So I whispered to him, "Do you really care about having a big wedding?"

"No," he murmured into my neck. "I just want to be with you."

I drew back from him and held his hands in mine. We locked eyes. Softly, I said, "What are we waiting for, then? Let's get married."

We kissed passionately, ignoring the company around us and swept up in the moment. The following week, we went to get our marriage certificate and set up a tiny beach ceremony where we could have it done by an official.

We only told three people we were getting married before we did it. My mother and our two witnesses. The incomparable Jessica served as my main of honor, rocking an undeniably cool fauxhawk. Chaz, who had been a spectator for the entirety of our relationship doubled as best man and photographer. Though it was just us, we dressed up anyway and everyone looked dashing. Nicholas, of course, was most handsome of all.

We drove down to the Curves (a beach on the way to the local state park), met the pastor and his wife and made our way down the dune to the shoreline. The weather was perfect. The whole God thing is neither here nor there but the personal words the priest threw in were sweet and sincere. I have never loved saying or hearing two words more in my life. I do.

Afterwards, we went back to my house and celebrated. Jessica's mother brought cake. I didn't actually know the tradition of feeding each other, I had only seen couples with cake all over their face so I immediately shoved it in Nick's. Taken aback, he got it all over me and my hair. Laughing wildly, we were doing pretty well as a married couple already, I thought.

It was bizarre, being married but still living with my mother and not having a driver's license. Yet I've never really been one to take the traditional route. The rest of our friends and family found out we had eloped later and my new in-laws took us out to dinner to share the news with the world.

Our two year anniversary is coming up soon and it's strange to be so content in a relationship that has spanned three years of friendship followed by two years of dating plus two years of marriage. I'm a person that's violently bored by everything almost immediately. Almost all of my relationships were grossly ripe with infidelity, both emotional and sexual. I won't pretend our relationship is perfect; no such thing exists. However, when compared to any relationship I've had previously, I feel as if I'm living in a Disney movie.

Yet somehow I managed to meet and fall in love with someone who shines such a light on not only what's good about me but also my flaws, never shying away from either. A person who is constantly surprising me and unerringly kind, no matter how much crazy pours out of me. Someone who encourages but never pushes, takes gently but not without giving generously, who puts me first and surprises me constantly. 

Love is something you define for yourself. It's one of the abstract concepts of life, that has some evidence in chemicals and emotions but nothing more tangible than a few neurons firing or a pulse quickening. Everything beyond that is up to you, never appearing in the exact same manner from person to person. While it may not always be easy, in my experience, it is certainly worth it.

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