I met my fiancé 5 years ago now. I was out with a friend and so was he. My friend thought his friend was cute. She and I rambled up to their table. “You guys wanna play Jenga with us?” I asked. They hesitated, looking at each other with sideways grins. “It’s a worknight, whatdya think?” Sam said. Sam’s friend was smooth, “Why not?” he said in a nonchalant way. We laughed and talked. Last call came and went. We moved to another bar. Making small talk, Sam and I watched the other two flirt and pretend to be mysterious for each other. Maybe they weren’t pretending. Either way, Sam and I weren’t looking for anything at all.
I had been with an angry, hateful boy for 3 years prior to that time and had just begun to feel like myself again. It was cold the night I met Sam. The fact that it was a week night didn’t mean much to me at the time. I was a server at a corporate restaurant, had just finished my bachelor’s degree, and spent most of my days alone in my apartment reading some memoir or other, feeling young and profound. I would go out dancing on the weekends by myself or with friends. I spun and wiggled and shook until my legs were so tired I could barely walk out of the place.
Sam had been through a terribly messy divorce followed by a passionate and volatile relationship that ended about a year before my friend saw his friend in that bar. Sam was 13 years older than me and he had a daughter. Baggage aside, I had never met someone who was more fun or made me feel wholly accepted. We were two of the most skittish humans that ever happened to like each other. The first 6-8 months of our relationship consisted of hard conversations and trying to convince ourselves and each other that nothing was happening for us. We were just having fun. We were having fun, but we were also growing big, ginormous feelings for each other.
But as jittery and untidy as it was, that space was a very good place to start something great. It allowed for total transparency and the building of an honest foundation, free of the silly habit of trying to fit into the other person’s checklist. We were able to just be. To be ourselves, messy and fucked up and human.
What came from that space is a freaking sweet relationship: a fun, joyful, adventurous, communicative, travel-filled, good-even-when-times-are-hard, kind of love. A partnership, a ride-or-die, a solid thing that makes me believe in love every single day. Every. Single. Day.
And what is it you do with something that good? Well, I decided to make my intentions known and to ask a question very few girls dream of asking. I didn’t even dream of asking it until a male, feminist friend of mine prophesized that was how it would go for me. Self-fulfilling or not, I made my mind up to do it.
That big, stupid, scary question.
One cold night early in 2017, Sam and I were cuddled up on our couch. We were talking about what the last year had held. We had both been through a lot. I had lost my mom that year, it was a sudden and devastating loss. Sam had gotten a huge promotion, good news at a tough time, and his workload doubled. But we had also made great memories, we had hiked and traveled. We went to see bands and spent a lot of time with the people that matter. We had made something good out of a year that would crush a lot of people, and it did crush us, but it also helped us realize the important things.
We had talked about all of that and then we were talking about us. We had never questioned us. Not for a single moment. We were unwavering. We were each other’s most immense source of strength and stability in a sea of chaos and change.
Our conversation came to a natural and easy pause. Sam was grinning at me big. Our legs were intertwined under a blanket, warm and safe. I looked at this man on the other end of the couch, this beautiful, incredible man, and I thought, now. And so I stood up from the couch and I got down on one knee, just like all those men and a few women before me, and I told Sam this, “We have been through so much. We have been through great times and hard times and I have total faith in the man you are and the man you will be. Sam, will you marry me?” Tears had welled in my eyes by the time I finally spit out the words.
And you know, you always want the person you’re asking to say “YES, OF Course! I thought you would never ask!” But Sam didn’t say that, you know what he said to me? He said, “Are you sure?” And my heart sank ever so slightly but then Sam continued, “I mean, are you sure you want to marry me? I’ve been divorced, I have a kid. I come with all kinds of baggage.” And I said, “Yeah, I’m sure!” AND THEN, he said yes to me, he said it just like this in his southern West Virginia draw, “Yeah, baby, I’ll marry you!” And then I sat in his lap and we kissed and then you know what we did, we talked about it. We had a big long talk and at the end of the talk we both knew we would have many more talks, because it is a huge choice and it deserves a lot of talks.
That was over a year ago now. We haven’t totally nailed down a date yet and neither of us are in a hurry. Well, not a huge hurry. July, 2019, outside, at sunset. That is what we know. And that is just fine. Because this man makes me believe in love Every. Single. Day. So, figuring out what day we decide to make it official doesn’t stress me out too much.