September of 2011:
We’d been doing this back and forth with, “I like you, do you like me?” for most of the summer. To make a very long story deceptively short, one day, he came to my apartment in the middle of the day and told me that he wanted me to be his girlfriend. I could feel a pair of invisible hands on my shoulders holding me–as if to say “I know this feels like a perfectly ordinary day but everything is changing right now so let this sink in.” I took my time. I listened to every word he said. I was cautious with the words I said as I was telling him “of course”. Band of Horses was playing in the background and I still feel a pull in my heart when I hear Marry Song.
There was nothing hasty in our deciding to team up–any one of our friends can tell you that. But I’m glad that it took so long. If there was one thing that I knew about Ryan by then, it was that he never did anything that he didn’t really want to do. He doesn’t exactly bend to obligation very easily. And while, at times, that can be challenging–in our early days, this knowledge was my savior.
Summer of 2013:
We started moving all of his stuff into my apartment. We were lucky to meet and fall in love while living as neighbors. It’s a lot easier to move in, that way.
We didn’t have a porch, but we did have a rickety, old, wooden staircase that made everyone except for us nervous. He’d make us gin and tonics and sit behind me on the steps and kiss the top of my head.
I used to hate summer time. I’d melt and whine and complain in the dry, hot winds of Kansas. But something about loving Ryan made me really enjoy the way it felt to experience my body in the summertime. I didn’t run away from it–the way it looked, the way that it operated, the way that it would sweat. I just started wearing shorts and tank tops and moving around in the heat. Ryan made me love summer–which is great because now I love all of the seasons and there’s no part of the year that I despise. Ryan made me love every single day.
We started talking about how maybe we’d want to get married. One day he suggested that we go to Wichita and go look for a ring at antique stores. We both, erroneously, thought this would be a good idea. It wasn’t. It was overwhelming and fruitless. And I had a panic attack on the way there because of the reality of it all. The pressure was strong. He just pulled the car over and held my hand and told me how much he adored me and we can buy a ring today or not buy a ring today and either way it didn’t matter because we’re together forever no matter what anyway.
We didn’t get a ring. But I did learn something about myself–turns out I did want a diamond after all. I thought I could be this cool girl with a pearl or a ruby or something. But the minute there was a sparkly diamond on my hand I was like, “Oh wait! Look at that! I didn’t actually know myself at all. I want one of these!”
A few days later, I mentioned that we could try shopping for rings again sometime and he was all, “Oh, actually…” So I didn’t press it, understanding he’d bought one in secret.
But guess what. A few months afterward, he still hadn’t proposed. Have you ever been in this situation? When you know that your person is going to propose but they haven’t yet and every time you have a vaguely romantic moment you get yourself all amped up, like, “This is it!” followed by, “Oh… maybe this wasn’t it?” It’s exhausting!
Finally, one night during dinner time and I just told him how hard it is to be in this position. I just would love it if he’d just put me out of my misery. He argued–saying that he needed a beautiful, romantic, grand gesture. He just needed to think of something. I explained that while I appreciated that, I’m not really a grand gesture type of person. I think everyday life is the most romantic. By now we were not quite fighting–I wouldn’t let it go that far because I was already feeling like quite an asshole for bringing up the subject in the first place. He wasn’t believing me.
“You’re telling me,” he said, “that you would want me to just pop down on one knee, one day, and propose to you right here in the living room?!”
“Yes! Oh my God, that would be the greatest! I would love that.”
“So you’re telling me,” he nearly shouted at me, “that you want me to walk over here to this little drawer…”
Me: *confused face*
“and open it and pull out this little ring box…”
Me: *shocked and confused face, still holding my dinner plate btw*
“and open it and tell you how much I love you and ask you to marry me?”
“Um… yes? I would like it if you would do that.”
“Will you marry me?”
“Are we doing this right now?”
“Are we really doing this right now as I hold a plate of chicken fried steak?!”
“Yeah.” He looked so happy and he was tearing up so I knew this wasn’t a cruel joke. “Will you marry me?”
May 16, 2015:
It rained all that week and all day and our plans for an all-day, outdoor, music-festival/ yard-game wedding were basically ruined. It’s taken two years but I’m finally past the bitterness of not getting the wedding I’d planned. I can see it for what it was–adaptation. Insanely romantic adaptation. What ended up happening was that we got married very quickly under a tent that was flooding, ate very quickly under a tent that was flooding, and everyone left very quickly from under the tent that had flooded because their cars were all getting stuck in the mud.
In the end, it wasn’t really that bad because we got all that we wanted. We got married. We walked one another down the aisle to a really beautiful Copeland song. We had our families and our best friends all around. We had my mom’s cinnamon rolls. More than anything else–I still can’t believe that we had friends who stuck around afterwards and cleaned it all up for us. This is the part that still gets me choked up when I think about it. All that hard work. In a thunderstorm.
We didn’t take a proper honeymoon–which was one of the smartest decisions we made, I think. We got a beautiful hotel in Wichita and slept for three days and two nights. We arrived in our soaked wedding clothes. I felt like a child in a costume. The next morning, I woke up and wrote down everything I could possibly remember about our wedding day. I wrote 15 pages, taking note of every single tiny detail I could possibly remember.
Ryan… it feels like you came up to my apartment just last week. But at the same time, it feels like you married me a century ago. It’s forever and it’s hardly any time at all. I don’t know how we keep making it through in this bizarre time warp but I’ll go through every single twist and turn if it means that I get to hold onto your sturdy hands throughout it all.
I love you.