It happened at 11:45pm. I don’t really remember much, but I was naked and my hair was still damp from the shower. I remember shaking my head ‘no’ and catching flashes of my reflection in the mirror while it seemed the whole world and my towel were falling towards the floor. The tears were everywhere. I didn’t have a clue of what to expect—this has never happened to me before—but I knew he wasn’t usually one to come bearing gifts. I looked at him dead in the eyes; he smiled.
Have you ever witnessed your body’s emotional response to a moment of fight or flight? I had—many times—and many times before this night. I was raised on dread, where a fear of your own shadow wasn’t unreasonable. Danger might have been far away from me as I sucked my thumb and nursed my security blanket, but I always kept my worries close. I’ve learned over the years that neurosis is necessary chainmail armor protecting you from happiness. Happiness is what makes you forget about fatal car accidents and heartbreak. Neurosis is what keeps you in doors.
The water sprayed left and right. At one point you couldn’t tell if the drops were trailing from my hairline or from my tears. All three cats were hiding under the bed. Then he took it out. My face was squeezed so tight; I thought if I pinched any harder I might swallow my eyes. “Lil—this is something you want.”—Then I opened. I finally caught on: I wasn’t about to be assaulted; I was about to be engaged.
To my credit, he was acting weird all day. He apparently picked up the ring that morning. That night, we went to dinner at my friend’s house and I had to apologize to the two other couples there about his erratic behavior. He may or may not have stuck out his tongue at me during dinner. I may or may not have shushed him a couple times like a shitty mother. It was the best night of my life.
I have to be careful when I say best night of my life. ‘Best’ being the identifying word. Someone like me has to create boundaries with my feelings. It’s hard to take a moment to reflect on my wedding when I’ve been very busy planning my funeral. And to me, happiness feels like I’m planting a tree on the Moon. The roots will die moments after they’re planted.
So you could imagine when I was about to face the best moment of my life I jumped out of my skin. Who trusts happiness? Sometimes I cry when I think about how sweet Jonny is. And sometimes I let my cats play hockey with my engagement ring.
But this is all part of it: Nothing about getting married is comfortable. So uncomfortable in fact, I forgot to appropriately address the goal of this piece. What is it really like to be youngish and married in a time where other people my age aren’t engaging in the same marital sentiment? Apart from my variety of borderline traits, age and timing also play a great deal into my overall angst, but my engagement plays into a much larger debacle called Young People and Marriage in 2016. Meet the Millenials.
Supposedly, we’re the most educated generation to date and yet still the poorest. We’re the most creative and the most complacent. And I wonder if the tangential line between education and poverty is now becoming parallel and we’re the dejected experiments walking around passing out resumes and living at home till we’re 30. We were accepted to prestigious universities and then left jobless after. We were coddled and then shamed. My boyfriend was down on one knee but I thought he was trying to assault me. Because in a sea of unpredictable sadness, of course I assumed something bad was happening rather than something good.
Life is a scam. And my suspicions about happiness are directly inline with a Millenial’s distrust in marriage. We know too much. We read the stats, we anticipated our parents’ divorce, and we have Instagram. And marriage is kind of corny. And weddings are expensive. Up until eight months ago, marriage equality didn’t exist. It leaves an ugly taste in your mouth doesn’t it? I’m getting married in June.
My veil is purple lace, I had my first fitting today. My ring is a brilliant round diamond; I’ve been planning it in my head for a couple years now. Both my parents are walking me down the aisle. My cake tasting is on Saturday. My dress is being specially made for me, and my friends are supportive. I am the first of my friends to walk down the aisle, and if the numbers have it right, I’ll be the first one served with divorce papers.
But this is when the truth comes out: When I caught my cats using my ring as their hockey puck, I freaked out, jumped up off the toilet, and then accidentally peed on the floor. I’ve been begging my boyfriend since we started dating to make me his forever family. And yes I’ve been leaning on pessimism—but only because it’s the happiest I’ve been in my entire life.
Lily Waronker is the Editor-in-Chief of FRANK151 and a Los Angeles-based writer but may switch careers because she feels overwhelmed. In an attempt to find purpose, she likes to write about trending topics as they pertain to her and anything else she can’t relate to.