Updated: Apr 14, 2020
He told me he could picture us getting married one day. He brushed his beard against the side of my face, his wet lips grazing my ear, and he smiled as he said it. We were sitting intertwined on his black leather couch after we got home from a friend’s birthday party. He had drank quite a bit throughout the night - a few Johnnie Walker Black’s neat. I could tell he was feeling more relaxed and happier than usual.
I laughed it off and didn’t take it too seriously. We had been dating for almost two years at that time and I wasn’t trying to make any sudden, big moves just yet. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if he was my “forever” guy. I was also always one to be skeptical of the whole marriage thing anyway; I’m someone who’s content just by being with someone. I don’t need a piece of paper to validate that commitment anymore than my own heart and words solidify my intent.
I knew the things that I loved about him: the way he would let his guard down and laugh from the bottom of his stomach; his unwavering generosity with everyone he met; the rare look I received when I could tell he was thinking of how lucky he was to have me. But I was even more sure of things that I was uncertain of: his inability to match my desire for deep, meaningful conversation; how his money brought him his only sense of self worth; the way I sometimes felt invisible and lonely around him.
For awhile I had been blindsided by the adventure money can bring; lavish dinners with expensive champagne, spontaneous getaways overseas, unexpected gifts after fights, and the expected grand surprises for holidays and birthdays. As exciting as all of that was at the time, there was always this underlying complacency - this overarching feeling that things just weren’t enough. I didn’t know what my enough was, but I still kept searching for it in him knowing fully well I would never find it. My heart was longing for things that he wasn’t capable of giving me; things I kept hoping would just suddenly appear.
Yet when he said that he could picture us getting married one day, it still offered me some warmth; some false idea of, maybe this could work out for the long run. (Insert montage of small wedding, elaborate honeymoon, nights out with friends, cooking dinner with red wine, endless surprise gifts). For brief moments, when things were going really well between us, I chose to believe in these future versions of us. This “go-to reel” my mind would play after a great night out together or during one of his genuine, deep belly laughs, didn’t include the gap lurking between us - the wide space that stood between being couple for now and being married forever.
There was always this flip flop of emotions I was juggling. On the rarer cases I’d be imagining a mostly unrealistic happy future between us and during the more frequent occasions I’d be sitting next to him watching TV and wondering when my last time sitting on that couch with him would be. It was like I was living out a script that was bound to end with a breakup but still wondering if the author might scribble in some last minute edits or the leading male role would have a major shift in character. I was the definition of the blind leading the blind. Except I knew what it was like to see.
The night we broke up I remember standing in his doorway and hugging him with more emotion and affection than we ever had during the two years we were together. I left his house and drove straight home, crawled into bed, and cried until I fell asleep. I only remembered all of the sweet moments - the things I loved about him. I kept replaying the romanticized version of us and wouldn’t allow my mind to drift back to all the moments of doubt and confusion. I still didn’t want to see what I already knew time and time again.
When I first woke up the next morning I kept thinking, this is it, it finally happened, like you knew it would, yet still not believing that it finally happened. The overwhelming sadness I had felt the night before was now lightly threaded with this sprouting feeling of freedom and optimism for the new. It was just a seed at that point, but I knew it would eventually grow into something better and more suitable for me. I guiltily checked my phone to see if I had any missed calls or texts from him, hoping that his name would be lit in a rectangular box on my screen, but we both didn't reach out in the middle of the night.
Entertaining my heartache, I opened my photos and scrolled through our two year history together - all of the weekend getaways, small daily highlights, celebrations with family and friends, intimate moments with just the two of us - and I saw that even in our “best” times, I still wasn’t as happy as I wanted or could be. Each photo displayed the better moments of our relationship but also a girl who was always wanting something more. In all of those moments I knew that there was something else waiting for me, I just had to be ready to move on.
The last photo I looked at before turning off my phone was the both of us at a Fleetwood Mac concert. I was leaning back into his chest, he was kissing my cheek, the both of us were laughing, and I thought to myself, if it's possible to love someone when you know it's not right, how much better will it feel when the right one comes along?