Happy Monday, readers!
This weekend I drank far too many bottles of wine and spent far too much time dissecting and evaluating my relationships – both past and current – with good friends. Nothing wrong with that, as far as I can tell, and fortunately for you, this little story emerged.
Once, I was engaged.
I’m in my mid-twenties and there’s nothing scandalous, wrong, or even particularly interesting about the fact that I was once engaged, but I guess that fact that I am not currently married is still interesting enough to make people look at me in surprise and/or pity when I share the past-engagement status.
Even less interesting is the story of how I became engaged. The only thing I can say is that there was a guy I was living with, drinks, and a very shiny ring. The fun story comes from the morning after.
My boyfriend -we’ll call him NE- proposed to me on a Friday night after dinner and drinks in the city, mere weeks before Christmas. I said yes, and we ended up home and in bed. At the time, NE was working on the weekends and not all that close to our apartment, and so he would leave between 5:30 and 6AM on Saturdays, while I buried myself deeper in the covers and silently willed him to walk more quietly down the stairs in our loft.
The Saturday morning after the proposal was no different, except for the fact that a few hours after he left I sat straight up in bed in a sheer panic. I looked down at my left hand and cursed under my breath. I swung myself out of bed, threw on a pair of jeans, and ran – not very quietly – downstairs to where my cell phone was charging.
Jeff? Hi. It’s me. I did something bad.
<pause> What? What did you do?
Oh, Jesus …
I said yes.
Christ, Kari. You said yes?! What the— just come over, ok?
I glanced down at the phone in my hand – no longer connected to Jeff — who I would probably call my ‘best friend’, if I were into that. I threw things into a bag, made myself look as normal as possible, and drove across the city to Jeff’s apartment.
I pulled the shady-sneak-into-otherwise-locked-doors move by slipping into his apartment building behind someone else, and knocked on the door to his second-floor studio a few minutes later. He opened the door, shook his head and sighed, and stepped aside to let me in.
“Sit down.” he said, pointing to his futon before I could say anything.
“What the hell?”
“I know. I-I don’t know what I’m doing. I like NE, but I don’t know why I said yes. And now I don’t know what to do. I’m freaking out–”
“I’m making you oatmeal.”
“Oh. Uhm, ok.” I suppose oatmeal in a crisis is never really a bad idea.
I sat in silence while he made me oatmeal – and not the questionable-microwave stuff. In his uber-small efficiency, I probably could have helped stir from my position on the futon, but he gets possessive about his kitchen, even if said kitchen is represented by about four feet of space in a single-room living situation, so I didn’t.
He handed me a hot bowl with another sigh-head shake combo.
He remained standing while I ate. Between bites of oatmeal, I asked, “What am I going to do? What should I do? What did I do?!”
He is also 6’3″, so pacing in this instance really consisted of taking three or four steps to the left, turning, and repeating.
After a few minutes of pacing he turned to me, put his finger in the air, and said the most beautiful words any man could have said to me at that very moment —
“Being engaged is not the same as being married. You are not married.”
“I’m not married.” I said it slowly, as if I had just learned this little fact.
“That means you can handle this whenever you feel like it, in whatever way you feel like it.”
I nodded, letting it sink in. Apparently, I was still at a loss for the immediate requirements of the day. “What am I going to do right now? I can’t go home.”
Jeff looked at his watch. “My family will be here in twenty minutes. Finish your oatmeal, take that god-forsaken ring off and put it in the kitchen drawer so my mother doesn’t see it and freak out, and spend the day with us. We’re going Christmas shopping in center city – at the very least you can put off even thinking about what has happened to you in the last twenty four hours and have a good time.”
I finished my oatmeal and put my ring in the kitchen drawer just as his family arrived. To this day that is one of the best days that I have spent with Jeff and his family, and it’s situations like this one that have helped to solidify our relationship over the years.
I did eventually go home, where me and my then-fiance fought about the fact that I was never home when he got home.
We were engaged for two years. I actually planned a wedding. We broke up 3 months before we were supposed to tie the knot.
Most people were relieved.