I'll confess. It is a lot easier to write about this all from waaaaaaay over here, five years and 3,000 miles away. And also to write about inklings and overall lessons, and isn't it so great how I've grown and matured, and gosh, I sure am happy now.
Well, yes. I am happy now.
But the end of my marriage was a complete and utter nightmare. It was ugly and cruel and it is nearly impossible for me not to think that "I was bad but he was worse," even though I know that "who was worse" has probably nothing to do with anything.
Regardless of my perspective on why and how it ended, though, it's almost harder to go back and think of the good stuff.
I mean, the end was so bad, it cast a huge black cloud over everything that went before. And as I said, it's easy now to look back and say it was "never going to fit" but there was a time I believed (or wanted to believe) it would. Or that it did. Or that shutup, I'm getting married.
* * * * * *
I was 20 years old when I met David, and I had always been precocious, relationship-wise. He was four years older than I and seemed to have a good head on his shoulders. We met in school. We sparked. We practically – instantly – read each other's minds. We had plenty in common. And we wanted the exact same things out of life.
[Right, not so much with the wanting the same things. We purported to want the exact same things out of life, but one of us wasn't maybe so clear on what she actually wanted for reasons that have since become evident but were then unclear. 20/20, remember?]
Our first date was February 27. We were engaged on June 1.
I was completely in love with him. He was so smart and funny. Quiet and sarcastic. Strong. He could read several books in one day. He loved games. He was a black belt. And he was very, very good to me. He genuinely wanted to make me happy.
There are so many little stories, too. Things Shared that I don't ever take the time to recall anymore. The first kiss, and how I hated it.* The first "time" and how it was amazingly special. The surprise weekend away. The time he made dinner for me that I ended up throwing up. His insistence that we get cats and name them Sherlock and Moriarty.
I love soft touches on my back, the way maybe other women love chocolate. And knowing this, David instituted what he called "quiet time." In bed, he would hold a book with one hand and trace his fingers around my back with the other until I fell asleep.
I got to enjoy falling asleep to "quiet time" every single night we were together.
*should've known right then and there.
* * * * * *
From the moment we were engaged, I treated my relationship with David as though I were married to him. He asked me to be his wife, and I said yes and I put on the ring and I was committed.
I point this out because Having A Wedding had nothing to do with why I got engaged.
I mean, we weren't completely stupid kids. We knew we were young. I still had a year of college left and we had no money and only vague ideas of what our careers would look like. We didn't want to officially get married until we could afford it, until we were living on our own, and until we had established ourselves on career paths.
So to me, as soon as I put the ring on I was as good as married; we ended up waiting three-and-a-half years to actually have a wedding.
The wedding itself, actually Getting Married didn't change our relationship at all. But in those three-plus years, a LOT happened (un-wedding-related) really quickly.
And as much as it saddens me to say, I don't remember much of it anymore.
* * * * * *
One of the things I found buried in my closet was a book that I started as "my wedding journal." Here's the first page:
I only had the interest to open up this minefield recently. And what I found was shocking and maybe a little heartbreaking.
My. Entire. World. Was about being married. I called preparing for marriage "the most exciting time of my life." I couldn't imagine anything beyond.
It was as though somewhere along the way I had decided – without even meaning to – that the ONLY thing I could EVER want out of life was To Be Successful, Fairfield County Style.
[NOT that there is anything wrong with that. I do not begrudge anyone such a lifestyle -- there is a lot to be said for it. I just never took the time to examine WHY I wanted that lifestyle, you know?. (And God, THAT is a whole entry in itself.) But then? I just plowed ahead and never looked back.]
I didn't, however, expect it to happen so damn quickly. As evidenced by my having no idea what to do when I got there.
* * * * * *
We both graduated, he in 1996 and me in 1997. We both worked a few entry-level jobs with false starts.
By 1998 I landed at a cool, smart, and incredibly demanding consulting firm. I was always stressed out, and often worked 50 or 60 hour weeks. It took me a while to get my professional groove on, but I did. I had a good job with a good company. And I was proud of myself. I was definitely delivering on Part One of How to Be Successful, Fairfield County Style.
David, meanwhile, used one of his "false starts" to say, "Hey, I think I like this computer stuff." Which wasn't a bad thing to decide in 1998. So he switched jobs completely and went to work as a lowly entry-level computer guy at a not-so-lowly company.
Before we knew it, we became a dotcom boom statistic (without ever having stepped foot in Silicon Valley, though that was how I first had my interest in San Francisco piqued). Which meant that by the time we finally got married in 1999, his stock options allowed us to pay for the wedding ourselves. And also my car. And our house.
*SNAP* Just like that, the two of us went from being recently graduated, recently engaged, broke ex-college kids living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with entry-level jobs...to being married and living in a four-bedroom house with two careers, two cars, two dogs, and two cats. I believe that was Parts Two, Three, and Four of How to Be Successful, Fairfield County Style.
I said earlier that it was too much too soon. But probably if it hadn't been, it all wouldn't have gone down so swiftly, either.