With love, not without love.

It’s been a week of reflection, contemplation, and understanding.
Chicago winters are unpredictable, and, as per my statement, today is very cold. “24 degrees, feels like 8 degrees”. We are now officially more than halfway through March. As a compromise to the bitter wind and last night’s brief snow, I have agreed not to be angry with my city, so long as I may stay inside all day, braless and wrapped in Jimmy’s cardigan.
Chicago complied.

I finished reading The Time Traveler’s Wife for the third time this afternoon. Regardless of my knowledge of the ending, I found myself holding my knees, surrounded in tear and snot-soaked Kleenex. I have found no better love story than this book. To be fair, something in this story sparks a kinship in me. Deep, unashamed love, wrapped in a world of pain, fear, uncertainty, and distance. Jimmy is not a time-traveler, and I am not a woman who must wait for his return, but the world has thrown us so many…dark pits, it sometimes feels as if the time we have is too short.

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage. We are getting married on the last day of May, but I am already stumbling at “husband” and “wife”, although not for the reasons you may think. We are not married yet, but I already think of him as my husband. This one day, no matter how beautiful and memorable it will be, is not going to change anything. And that’s how it should be.

A few of my friends have gotten married or are getting married, and I can only shake my head at the things they post on Facebook. Today, someone posted about how they purposefully bought clothes smaller than their size so they could motivate themselves to get skinnier for their wedding day.
I can’t wrap my head around this.
It’s one day. No, it’s less than that. It’s about six hours. Then you’re married. It seems to me that everything after that prom-posed photo and the flower toss is what counts.

I’m not lying when I say that the wedding planning has, overall, been a very relaxing experience. It simply solidifies everything I thought we should be doing in the first place. I am excited to be married, don’t get me wrong. But, in my head, I already am.

I am far more excited about finding my first gray hair, finding Jimmy’s first gray hair. I can’t wait to file for a mortgage someday, and the inevitable nausea that will follow. If we decide to have a child, it will be awesome. If we don’t, it will be just as awesome. A baby is pretty cool, but it would never be my definition. It would be an amendment.

I can’t wait to look in the mirror and say, “Oh my god, my breasts are no longer high school perky.”
I want to walk to the grocery store from my apartment and feel the autumn wind in my bones.
I am excited to come home from a day of work and lay my head down on the table and sob from exhaustion.
When I suffer an identity crisis and wonder if I should be doing something else with my life, I will face that moment with optimism, as I face every moment.

This may seem weird to you, but this is what I think of when I envision marriage. Moments that would break me otherwise, if not for the undeniable strength I’ve gained throughout the years through myself, and through my partner. A marriage is not necessary. It is an institution. But I want to be married. I want to be, because it’s part of my future. I am the one who can jump forward, and my time-traveling self told me so.

The copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife I have has an inscription inside. It says, “For those long winter nights + cold mornings when all you need is a book, a pillow, + lights. Ricky 1/26/04” I want to know who Ricky is, and who this book was for. I wonder if they were a couple that didn’t survive. Is it possible that Jimmy and I won’t survive as a couple? It’s possible. My time-traveling self hasn’t given me any hints. But, whenever I ask her, old and gray and warm and strong, she simply smiles and closes her eyes.

And I know what this means.

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