This week a colleague got engaged. We used to work side-by-side and were once upon a time better friends. I was there the night a few of us went out and she ran into an old friend who is now her fiance.
Her proposal was classically adorable: a bended knee at a Bruno Mars concert. As she told me the story, she was lost in that wonderful fog of elation: a rare moment without the stress of an overwhelming life decision.
Only a couple of times have I been asked how Gregg proposed. The truth is, Gregg didn’t propose. Neither did I. But if you had to blame someone, it was probably me.
Gregg and I lived together for nearly a year before we became a couple. When Old Roommate moved out of the basement suite of The Commune, Dr. Roommate said she had a cousin who had just moved back to town and was looking for a place. “Did I mind living with a guy?” she asked.
I had met this cousin once before. It was summer 2010 and I was tagging along with a bunch of med students to the fireworks at English Bay. This cousin was in town and was coming with us. I still remember the first moment I saw him: walking into the kitchen of that old basement suite, I realized immediately that I had subconsciously been expecting a male version of Dr. Roommate. But no. He was tall and broad-shouldered and irreverent. And he had hair like Jaime Lannister.
Knowing that I would be living with him was not a worry. I knew the narrative of a crush. Crushes only last as long the imagination can sustain a perfect person. Familiarity would soon bring resentment. My crush on him would end as soon as I realized he did things like leave dirty dishes everywhere and stink up the bathroom.
But he didn’t and it didn’t.
During the course of our friendship, we talked about all manner of things, from who is the better Joker to how neither of us saw the logic in things like marriage. Our relationship was a natural progression to make Lyell proud. We watched movies together for months, the distance between us on the couch growing shorter and shorter until we shared a bedroom and still do.
Months later, The Commune long over, we were in New York. It struck me one moment, like things tend to do in New York City: “God damn, I want to marry this man.” I didn’t want a wedding (although we would later strike a compromise with my mother), I just wanted him to be my husband.
This thought lingered for a couple of days. It festered. I was upset and confused. I could not possibly fathom why I would want something that clearly has no logical purpose. I won’t get into why here, but I still believe, even after getting married, that marriage is not logical. At best it was buying into a societal expectation, and Gregg and I were always too contrarian for that. But I just wanted him to be my husband. I liked the idea of us being married. I liked the emotional heft of it. Perhaps there is nothing more to it than that.
So, in line with the open communication required for a healthy relationship, I brought up the subject. Perhaps I was not so mature at first with my indirectness, as we discussed other people’s marriages – past, present, future – and did nothing but poke holes in them.
Finally, I said it outright. I can’t remember my exact words, but something like: “I know it doesn’t really make sense, but I can see marrying you.” He replied with a shift in tone, like delivering a punchline to what you had been thinking was a horror story. “Oh well, of course I want to marry you,” as if it went without saying.
Later, when decided to run away to England, we thought we should get married before we go. That was when we finally called the families and considered ourselves engaged.
That was it: the most logical way we could handle such an illogical thing.