In 193 days—almost to the hour of me writing this—I will be standing with some of my closest friends and family as the woman I love, dressed in a white gown, walks down the aisle towards me. Will I ever fully process that this is happening, or even be prepared for it? To be determined. But it is happening, and I’ve never been happier!
Marriage is the kind of event that makes you look back and evaluate where you’ve come from: the paths you’ve walked, choices you’ve made, and the relationships that have built you. This year has been a time of reflection for me as the anticipation builds toward mine and Victoria’s wedding this November, and I’ve been more sentimental than I usually am (*cough I’m usually very sentimental *cough*). When I was a kid, my wedding day was something that I dreamed about, which is, according to naysayers, a bit unusual for boys. But oh well, if I’ve learned anything from Taylor Swift, it’s that haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.
I was born in Colorado, in 1996, and grew up in a mostly nurturing environment where most people were considerate and loving, but where others were less forthcoming or even incapable of lying themselves down for the quiet child I was, who didn’t complain or voice his grievances very much, if at all. I call the first nine years of my life my “drunk years” because I don’t remember very much about them, at least not as much as most people seem to. When I was nine, however, my family picked up and moved to Arizona (which I think I’ve talked about a couple times on this blog before), and that’s when my memory really kicks into gear, because I turned ten the year after we got there.
One of my brothers had struggled with addiction, and everyone had rallied around him to help, uplifting him to pave his way to recovery. That included moving somewhere closer to a facility that promised him help. Arizona scared my little ten-year-old self, mainly because it wasn’t Colorado, or anything like it. I was shy and bad at making friends, so my tenth birthday party, a pool party in February (a bad idea even in Arizona) consisted of some neighborhood kids I barely knew at the time: a 12-year-old boy named Angel, two brothers from down the street named Darius and Demitri who came even after their mom said they couldn’t, and some twins that were four years younger than me named Hunter and PJ. (That actually sounds like a good cast for a CW television series.) This is the earliest good memory I have: bringing people together and letting them have a good time and eat the last piece of pizza even though I wanted it and it was my birthday and I wanted the last piece.
But I digress.
That birthday party, looking back, came to define who I was for the next ten years of my life: somebody who kept their mouth shut and always put others first (even with the last slice of pizza at stake). This isn’t at all me bragging or claiming that I was a selfless giver, but me admitting to the fact that I didn’t care enough about myself to ever put me first. This is how I went along for some time–that is, until I made some friends that would spark a mission of self-discovery, one which would carry me to adulthood and in the end change my perspective on life.
I was fourteen when I met…let’s call him Isaiah, because that’s his name. Isaiah was my best friend for a really long time, and he helped me break out of my little shell more than anyone else could have. We were young and restless little fourteen-year-olds, and I’m sure our parents still don’t and never will know the adventures we took together and the memories we made. It was through Isaiah that I met Mat (who you can find out about by reading my post What I’ve Learned From A 10-Year+ Friendship).
Mat was also quiet and self-contained, like me, but with emo hair and an interest in K-Pop instead of what I had: Donkey Kong t-shirts and an interest in eating my feelings. And then, at the same church where I met Isaiah and Mat (yeah, us church kids had some wild times), I met another life-long friend, Laken, who was cooler than me in every regard and yet still wanted to hangout with me. These three guys, though they probably never realized it, not at first, would become three of the most important things in my life and a catalyst to make me realize I wanted to change.
Seven years down the line–after heartbreaks over crushes, silly friend fights over video games, and a lot of childhood lived–my family decided to leave Arizona. I was sixteen and heading into my final years of high school. At the time, I thought I was losing everything. I had to leave everything I ever cared to know or remember behind. From there, my parents hopped around from place to place and job to job, and since neither of my brothers lived at home anymore, and I wasn’t anywhere long enough to make new friends, I receded back into my shell. Soon we hit small town Oregon. My dad passed away. I got my first real job. Life was throwing some very adult punches. And then something magical happened: I met Victoria, the soft-spoken yet spunky woman I’d soon fall in love with.
When first our moms introduced us to each other, I remarked to myself that Victoria didn’t really seem like she wanted to be out and about that day, and she confirmed, at a much later date, that that was true. We were both a bit odd and out of our element, having both moved from our childhood dwellings recently, and both having a lack of local friends. It took some time for me to cozy up to the idea of trying out a new friend, but when we both decided to make the jump–or rather, to click on the Friend Request button–there was no slowing down. We had ups and downs on our way to love, the downs admittedly being my fault in most cases…I had liked her immediately upon meeting, and I knew it. But one day I decided I was too scared, and I DTR’d (defined the relationship) which was, as you can guess, a horrible idea. I said I wasn’t looking for a relationship, that I wasn’t ready, which was true. And she said she understood. And then it got really awkward between us.
Several weeks later, maybe even months, I invited her to see the midnight release of Avengers: Age of Ultron with me. She hates when I tell this part of the story: But that night, sitting in a dark theater and watching as Tony Stark accidentally rained terror upon the world, I fell deeply in love with Victoria. Here’s why: She hated action movies, and had never seen a Marvel film; she normally was in bed by nine and was never out past that time anyway. But here she sat, fighting to stay awake in an Avengers movie simply because she wanted to spend time with me. That’s the moment I realized what I had given up and almost lost entirely. Summoning the shell-shattering support of my three best buddies back in Arizona, I decided to assert myself in life for maybe the very first time, and the next occasion that Victoria and I were together, I asked her out.
Now that I’m here, about to marry this wonderful, brilliant, beautiful woman, now that I’m standing at the cusp of the final page of a chapter, teetering on the edge of a cliff and about to dive into whole knew waters, it’s not the anxiety-ridden roller coaster everyone told me it would be. Rather, it just feels…right. It feels as though all the journeys through Colorado winters with family; all the Arizona summers with my best friends; all the cold, heartbroken nights when love was lost with my latest crush; and all the early mornings of waffles and video games, all led to this beautiful cliff and the fresh waters below. Is that selfish? To think that life has been perfectly sculpting you, taking the chisel to the unfinished patches of your soul and sanding away the rough areas, all preparing you for your future? Is it selfish to think that destiny might have finally found her way to your door and is gently knocking, excited for an extended visit?
Well… Whether it’s a finely tuned destiny or just a series of unrelated events that happened to lead me right to the girl of my dreams, I’m ready and overjoyed to open the door and let her in. And don’t worry, Victoria is all caught up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe now and, I’m proud to say, rather enjoyed the films.
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Have a great week, and check back in for a fun announcement in my next post. If you enjoyed this week’s post, then like and share so other people can enjoy it, too!
Weekly Writing Prompt:
She’d heard the rumors of this place, but as the door opened to reveal it to her own eyes, she stood still in disbelief…