Confronting Reality

“Do you think we’ll work out? Tell me honestly.”

His words were slurred and his voice quiet. Normally I might think he was trying to be quiet because of the intimacy and insecurity voiced in the question, but his voice had been fading with the rest of him and I knew he wouldn’t remember this tomorrow. I hesitated. This isn’t a conversation I want to have with you drunk, I thought. Really, this wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have at all.

A part of me was relieved that I wasn’t the only one wondering. After almost a year of dating, I’d been struggling lately to keep my mind from wandering…wandering to where we would live if we moved in together, how we would balance my wayward lifestyle with his need for stability, even how the names I imagined for my children would sound with his last name. And maybe, for most people, after a year of dating at least some of these would be normal thoughts. Thoughts that smacked of words and catchphrases that should be within the vocabulary of any long term relationship, like “commitment,” “teamwork,” and “building a future.” But for us, I know it’s dreaming. We are barely even sophomores in college. We are supposed to be thinking of words and phrases like “sexual exploration,” “playing the field,” “figuring out what you like” – not “marriage material.” For us, there isn’t much of a question of whether or not we’ll “work out” – if we’re like the great majority of college sweethearts, we won’t.

People talk about change a lot when you’re entering your twenties. You don’t even know what you like yet, or Your values and interests aren’t set in stone. I’ve heard stories of marriages at 23 only for divorces at 25. Individuals change differently – they grow up and grow apart. That’s all fine in theory, and even if it’s not good it sounds natural. I don’t doubt that a few years can mean a lot; even just today I went through a diary not even ten years old to discover that I referred to one of my current best friends as “bossy” and another as a girl who “throws basketballs at me” that I was glad had left my school at the time. I also said that I called a girl who was sick to see if she was feeling better, even though I “hated her,” because I was “trying to be a good Christian.” I laughed so hard that I cried reading this diary, just seeing how much (hopefully) I’ve matured since then. I don’t doubt that in five or ten years from now, I could laugh reading this because I’ve changed so much. In theory, all of the advice about exploration and being open to change sounds refreshingly honest – and honestly exciting. All aboard the exploration express!

But in theory doesn’t help me now. Now, I see a boy whom I adore, one whose gentle spirit and kind eyes make my world open up and my own eyes shine brighter. I see a brilliant mind and a kindred soul and someone who teases me just the right amount – enough so I know that he doesn’t take me or love too seriously, but not so much that I ever doubt he adores me too. I see someone whose strengths perfectly complement my own and who knows all my shortcomings but loves me anyway. I know the whole world says we won’t work out, and I know that the experienced world is probably right, but all of this knowing can’t stop me from desperately wanting it to be wrong and us to be right.

“I don’t know.” I say, finally responding to his question, but the lack of acknowledgment tells me he’s already drifted away. I stay up, pondering, and I decide that in a way we already have worked out. We’ve been there for each other through ups and downs and taught each other how to love – what more can we ask for at this point? And for as long as we both want to work out, exploration be damned. I’ll handle the changing and the growing apart when and if it comes. World, come at us. We probably won’t be the couple to prove you wrong, but we’ll have a damn good time trying. TC mark

image – jesse.millan

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