My ex-boyfriend is getting married.
I’m grappling with my feelings on this. Not because I’m grappling with my feelings for him — no; those feelings long ago warmed to nothing more than friendship . . . and today, not much of anything. I certainly don’t “hate” him — that would require me to feel much more strongly about him than I do. I don’t really feel much of anything about him, in fact.
The truth of the matter is, while we dated for more than two years, we were never in love. In the four short months in which I’ve known Spencer, he consumes so much of my daily brain power, thinking of the face I’ve probably seen just hours before — the way his eyes crinkle when he smiles; the tiny cleft in his chin; the way I feel when he takes my hand, pressing his palm flat against my own. I feel . . . happy. Loved. Secure. And beyond that? Excited. Giddy with the possibilities of it all. Eager for life and everything still to come. Happy to be a freshly-minted 25-year-old, a woman who found a man who makes her smile so much and so often.
P. was not that man. Though both technically “adults,” our relationship was childish — built more on an initial friendship than anything. At the time, I needed someone there to lean on; and at the time, he was there. We outgrew each other, plain and simple, and maybe things wouldn’t have gotten so ugly in the end if I’d been brave enough to face that. But I wasn’t.
Regardless, he’s getting married this month. Of the four men I seriously dated in six years, he’s the one I would have least expected to learn was tying the knot. Coincidentally, he’s also the youngest. I wish he and his new wife happiness, because I have no reason to wish them anything but pleasant things. Life is hard enough without carrying a grudge. And as I said, my feelings have fizzled and become so muddled toward P., being unhappy about his marriage would require me to care about his marriage.
I mean, it’s not that I don’t care. I’m not rude or heartless. I just mean that I don’t care care. I don’t care in the I-can’t-sleep, up-all-night, sick-to-my-stomach way. Not even remotely. In typical fashion, I’m just thinking that P.’s marriage means time is marching on — and I’m thinking about what all this means for me.
When I turned 20, I was reminded that I was the same age as my parents — high school sweethearts — when they got married. Now that I’m 25, I’m reminded that my mom and dad were both 25 when their first born — yours truly — came into the world. Now I’m the age they were when they became parents.
Growing up, it’s hard to fight off the ticking clock over your head. No matter what I’ve done, that timeline has been in the back of my mind — the age when they met; the age when they married; the age when they started a family. No one has forced this on me or declared that this is the way it should be; it’s just that, over time, I’ve absorbed that. Whether or not I meant to, I’ve always felt like I was on a schedule — like I should be getting ready for the next event.
When we’re in school, we advance through the grades with a clear goal in sight. For a while, it’s all about finishing high school — donning that robe and strolling down the aisle with your family and friends nearby. Once that’s done, you apply to college — get your degree, do the whole graduation thing again. Fine and fine. Done and done. Since I hit that milestone in 2007, I’ve struggled with finding my “place.” I was lucky to find a full-time job I enjoyed. But without the next clear goal in sight, a little voice in the back of my mind started chanting, “What next? What next?”
It’s only recently — probably since I met Spencer — that I’ve decided to clock out of the whole “this is how your life should be” mentality. For me, that means spending less time on Facebook reading what my “friends” (most of whom I haven’t spoken to since high school) are doing — and concentrating on my own life. Who cares if Suzie B. is getting married? What difference does it make if Laura N. is expecting and sharing constant updates on her pregnancy with those of us fortunate enough to be in her Newsfeed?
I’m not Suzie, and I’m not Laura (all totally fictional, by the by). I’m me. I’m Meg. And where I am and what I’m doing has nothing to do with what everyone else is doing. “All in good time,” as they say. For now? I feel happy for the life I do have with the people in it — the people who have, over time, proven they belong in my world. I’ve lost friends and made new ones. People I never thought I’d lose touch with have evaporated. It’s the way of the world . . . and the way of my world.
One of the last times I spoke to him, P. and I had the requisite “I hope you have a good life” conversation — the kind you share when you know you’re probably never going to talk to someone again. At the time, I thought it was stupid — meaningless; almost unkind. Is there any bigger brush-off than someone saying, “Hey, have a good life!”
But now, I understand. I get it. People come in, people go — we watch them, hopeful that we’ll find the right people join us on the whole journey. So I do hope P. has a good life, wherever that life might take him . . . and I’m happy here, in my good life, just soaking up every moment while the sun shines.