Life is a lot like a train. A train that never stops at the same terminal twice.
When I got married this past November, it was and will forever be the best day of my life. It was the best terminal. I was the conductor; or let’s be honest, my wife was the conductor. We were co-conductors, let’s say, and let’s also acknowledge that I’ve already taken this train metaphor way to far.
The point is, it was the best decision of my life. As co-conductors, Victoria and I can face anything, and I know we’ll be just fine.
What I didn’t really realize at the time was how that day would affect so many lives around Victoria and I, so many relationships, so many moments past and to come. It was a huge step for both of us, and for me, it was the overcoming of a big fear I had: commitment. Long-term, no emergency exit, commitment. But it was a fear that I faced and overcame without all the support I had wanted, without the support I had expected. Victoria’s bubble of people was all for it, abundantly so. We were getting calls and texts every day congratulating us on making the best decision of our lives from her family and friends, even distant ones.
I definitely had my fair share of love and congratulations from my closest of friends, but the overwhelming response from my corner was…underwhelming. It was shocking, not only because Victoria’s crew was so excitable, but because much of my crew was openly, verbally discouraging to the idea of marriage and, honestly, directly to the woman I’d fallen in love with.
I tried to understand, at first. I’m loud where Victoria is quiet. My presence grows to match the size of the party, and Victoria is comfortable being the person she is, no matter where she is. At gatherings, when I’d be laughing and chiming in every chance I got, Victoria would be at my side with a quiet smile and an inquisitive eye. I tried to understand, because I understood that Victoria’s and my personalities appeared in such contrast. I didn’t want to face the fact that some of the people I had leaned on my entire life had shrugged their shoulders away simply because they were afraid of change, of me changing.
This is where it gets harder to explain, because this is where I have to admit the fact that I’ve been wearing a mask since I was a little boy. A mask that only very few people have seen behind. For those of you who know me, don’t worry, the dad jokes and terrible puns have always been authentic. But the extroverted, always loud, ride or die, life of the party that I showed my family and acquaintances peels back to reveal a quiet, over-thinking, often anxious man beneath.
When I met Victoria, I slowly, lovingly, took that mask off because I knew that she, more than anyone, would accept me for the person I was hiding from.
So where does that blame fall, when suddenly almost everyone who thought they really knew you doesn’t understand you anymore? In their eyes, the blame is on the person who gave you the courage to take off the mask.
I can’t say this is the case for everyone, but for me, with Victoria, marriage was the terminal I needed to stop at the most. It was the most incredible high, the most emotional experience of my life–so far, we’ll see about when we eventually have a baby. But soon after, I found my train carts emptying out. Family and friends alike weren’t so into the ride anymore, and they were blaming the new co-conductor.
Here’s what I’m getting at with all this: I want to encourage anyone going through something like this, whether it be marriage, or a pregnancy, or a hard personal truth you’re trying to face, the passengers that stay on the train with you are the people that matter. They’re the people that love you. They’re your ride or die. If you’re trying to better your life, then the people that will help and not hinder you are the people you want around. They’re the people you know you can trust, not only with your life’s biggest moments, but also with the person beneath the mask.
I came out on the other side of my wedding with a much smaller circle of trust in some ways and a much bigger one in other ways, when you consider all the friends and family Victoria brought with her. I’ve always surrounded myself with a large number of peers, but what surprises me the most is that now, with my two best friends back in Arizona, a quick phone call or flight away, and my new small group of close friends in the Pacific Northwest (a place I’m prouder than ever to call my home), I’m happier than the boy with the mask on could have even imagined.
I’ll never look back on what came before Victoria and wonder what if, because she’s my only if. Our life together is the only if that matters.
And, hopefully, I really do never use a train analogy again.
I hope you enjoyed another personal post and, possibly, took something away from it. For more posts, you peruse my full blog library by hitting the link at the top of the page or, for fiction and poetry, check out my Quick Reads page.
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What’s a big decision you’ve made in your life?