When I told my girlfriend M that Andy and I were going to Hawaii, she started squealing, “Oh my God! He’s gonna propose! He is gonna propose!”
“He’d better not,” I retorted. “He knows how I feel about marriage. And we haven’t even been together for a year.”
“Oh, stop it. You’ve been together for almost eight months and you’ve been dance partners and friends for a year-and-a-half. And you just turned thirty, so you don’t need permission.”
About that last sentence:
- No, I was not in a cult that requires the leader’s permission to marry (looking at you, FLDS Church).
- I definitely didn’t need permission from any of my parental units – with as many marriages and divorces as they’ve all had, they lost any sort of marital high ground decades ago.
- It’s not permission from my friends – not that that would be a bad thing. My girlfriends are awesomely honest. They would tell me if they thought Andy was awful. They certainly told me when other guys were dicks (looking at you, Italian-American ex hitting on my coworker at my COMPANY CHRISTMAS PARTY).
No, it was permission from my full-blooded siblings. Years ago, when some parental unit (I don’t remember which) got married for the umpteenth time, a pact was made. Big Brother, Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister, Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister, and I swore we would not make our parents’ biggest mistake: we would not get married young. None of us would marry before age thirty without first getting the consent of the other three. We sealed our solemn vow with alcohol. Some of us with more alcohol than others. (I hate the taste of alcohol.) This might be why one of them swears she doesn’t remember this vow (looking at you, Lawyer Sis).
Big Brother was the first to marry. At age 30 (still married). Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister was next – at age 29 ½ (still married). Even though she jumped the gun by 6 months, we gave the Doc Sis our blessing, since she’d been with her future househusband for 9 years already – longer than many of the parental units at her wedding had been married to their current spouses (looking at you, Dad).
I was up next. And while I could never imagine marrying anyone but Andy, that didn’t mean I was ready for that irrevocable step.
I’ve seen numerous studies purporting to show that children of divorced parents are more likely to divorce. I’m not including any links because I think those studies are crap. In my shattered family, the opposite is true. Out of my full siblings, half-siblings, step-siblings, ex-step-siblings, and ex-stepparents’ new step-children (ha, good luck untangling that one if you are from a nuclear family), there have been 18 marriages. Only two have ended in divorce. Yes, some of these marriages are young, but still! An 11.1% divorce rate is way better than the national average.
I think it’s because we children of shattered homes are extra careful. Or maybe extra terrified.
Terror had me hunting through Andy’s suitcase on Kauai, making absolutely sure it held no square jewelry boxes. There were no little boxes, I reported to M via cell phone, with no small sense of relief.
“Andy’s super smart and you think he’s gonna leave a ring just out in his suitcase?” M scoffed. “He’s got it hidden. The man’s got a plan.”
“He does not. Quit freaking me out.”
M hummed a snatch of Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March.” I hung up on her.
No scary square box appeared during our first days on Kauai. But on our last morning, Andy insisted that we should take a dinner picnic and watch the sun set at Hanalei Bay. Hanalei has the most romantic beach ever, surrounded by mountains and facing west. I swallowed and agreed. Maybe it would rain. It had rained every day so far. C’mon, rain.
It did not rain. It was, in fact, the prettiest afternoon Kauai had ever seen. Balmy, breezy, and beautiful.
I insisted that our picnic be Subway — the least romantic takeout dish EVER.
We ate our subs on the sand, then watched the sun slip into the ocean. The clouds shifted from gold, to orange, to pink. The lush green hills that flowed down to the water turned smoky blue.
I was having none of Hawaii’s effortless gorgeousness. I tried to tug Andy back toward the parking lot. “Okaythat’sgreatcanwegonow?”
“You’re kidding. This is incredible. Let’s go walk in the water,” He headed into the surf, pulling me along. I managed not to run screaming in the other direction. Barely. We walked for a minute, waves washing over our feet. I felt sick. Undoubtedly Subway’s fault.
Andy pulled me close and kissed me in the last bit of golden light. Then he leaned back, smiled at me, and said: “That would have been the perfect time to propose, huh?”
And then he LAUGHED. And kept laughing.
Until a nice, big, and oh-so fortuitous wave rolled up. I shoved Andy into it.
And then I laughed.