“What — what is it?!” I asked as J. pounded up the stairs and flashed his iPhone in my face. Displayed on the screen was an extended hand with a pretty big diamond ring.
“Does this mean what I think it means?!” he asked, still in obvious denial.
“Um yeah, it appears your sister got engaged.”
Although text may not be the best way to share the news with your immediate family, she is of the Y Generation who thinks making a phone call is as strenuous as dialing on a rotary telephone. My first thought was — about freakin’ time. Since I first met her two and a half years ago when she was barely 21, I remember marriage being a hot topic. A southern thing, I surmised.
In New York, getting married before 27 is rare, before 25 even rarer. It’s a different mindset here. People are busy launching and managing careers, traveling, exploring who they are…marriage isn’t on the priority list. I often refer to NYC as Peter Pan Land, a magical place where you never have to grow up. Here, you’re judged more by your shoes than your ring finger.
But J. was livid. Livid that the groom-to-be didn’t call him personally and ask his permission. Livid that he got a text with the news. Livid that his baby sister was no longer a baby, but soon to be a wife.
As an only child, I admittedly don’t get the whole sibling dynamic. I have watched my friends’ families from the bleachers — and each has their own DNA algorithm. What’s the norm for one family, is the complete opposite for another. And even though I do have a stepbrother, being 11 years apart and not growing up in the same house never fostered a sibling bond.
So what the hell was J. feeling? Left out? Jealous? I had no idea.
I am happy for his sister. She moved five hours farther south to be near this guy, she has been faithful and she has been devoted. And although she could’ve moved into his house, she didn’t. She got her own apartment and paid her own bills. That was not the easy route, it was the smart route. Her fiance is a good guy, doesn’t drink, is religious, seems pretty straight-laced, and most importantly, he adores her and treats her with RESPECT. That’s the key ingredient to any successful relationship and marriage.
I am what they called on Shameless, “Ghetto Married”. J. gets all the benefits of marriage, without the legal paperwork. But at the core that has more to do with me than him. I NEVER dreamed of my wedding day, I never lusted after my friend’s engagement rings, I didn’t buy bridal magazines and stuff them under my mattress…it just wasn’t something I fantasized about.
Do you remember that scene from Sex and the City when Carrie is engaged to Aidan and she’s trying on wedding dresses and has a complete panic attack and tears the dress off her body because she thinks it’s choking her? I totally relate to that.
Growing up the child of a divorced family, marriage and the dissolution of it didn’t seem like too much fun. The first time it really hit me was after the father-daughter dance when I was a sophomore in high school. At the end of the night, my friends hopped into cars with their dads and drove home together. I was instead dropped off at my mom’s in Staten Island and my father drove back to Queens by himself. I can still remember watching his car drive off down Hylan Blvd. without me. It had taken me years to realize my normal wasn’t normal.
In my teen years, after overhearing my mom and stepdad arguing, I repeatedly added my two cents, “And this is why I’m never getting married.” I should’ve worn a t-shirt proclaiming this with an arrow (pointing at them). I said it that often.
My father never remarried, he said my mother was enough for him. And my mother and stepfather are still together…so no, I haven’t been traumatized by a mom who’s on her 6th marriage.
A few years ago, I connected with an ex on MySpace (ok, guess it was more than a few years), and he iterated he was just following “The Playbook of Life…you know MBA, townhouse in CT, get married, have a kid.” To me it just seemed very vanilla.
I’ve always been an outlier, I am three standard deviations from the norm (can you tell I’m taking Stats this semester?). So to each their own. I do want to have kids. But as far as the “I Do’s”… for now I Certainly Don’t.