Ours was the shortest courtship that I had ever heard of. Well, except for celebrities, but we all know how those turn out most of the time. Oh, and that girl I knew in college who went on a date with a college professor and was married to him two days later. Fool, was what we muttered under our breath. Over 10 years later, they’re still married, and now have two kids. Perhaps, we were the foolish ones to doubt them.
So when, after just five months of dating someone, I announced to my friends and family that I was engaged, the shock was, well, huge. Admittedly, I was shocked myself, and I expected others to be stunned by it, but the outpouring of public “Congratulations!” messages that were followed by private emails begging, “Are you fucking kidding me?” was something I surely didn’t expect – at least not to that extent.
I met Olivier in Paris in early March. We had a great six weeks together, he swept me off my feet, we fell in love, and then I headed back home to New York City. After that, our relationship was based on texts, email and lots of video chats. We had decided that we were going to try to make it work despite the huge distance between us. Even in 2013 and all that connects us, it seemed impossible, and at the very least, silly to try to hang on to what we had.
May and June we were apart. It was during those two months that we learned to communicate despite the distance and the occasional language barrier, remained committed, got to know each other in ways that maybe other couples don’t get to in each other’s presence and, of course, became masters of pretty raunchy dirty talk, anticipating all the things we would do to each other when we were reunited.
Yes, I still had my doubts, but I pushed through them, carried on and moved forward with loving this amazing man. I returned to Paris on July 2.
A few weeks after my arrival in Paris, and after an evening of lots and lots of discussion about my fears, my concerns, and his ability to accept them and work with them, he got down on one knee and proposed.
He told me that he had planned to do it the following week when we were in Chatel, France, a place I had always wanted to go as it’s where my name is from, but in the moment that night, he couldn’t contain himself and jumped the gun. It was perfect. I didn’t think when I answered; my emphatic “yes” was sincere and from the gut.
But then I had some explaining to do to friends and family as to why I was in a rush, why I didn’t want to take my time to get to know him more, and had I been taking my anti-depressants as prescribed and not over-dosing on them so as to fuck up my ability to make smart decision? And, of course, did he really want to be an American that badly? Is this some sort of Gerard Depardieu à la “Green Card” thing? (Olivier is also a composer and musician, so I’ve been getting that one a lot.)
I’m not in a rush. I’ve never been one of those women who’s had this gigantic desire to get married. If it happened, it happened; if it never did, then fine, cool, whatever — it wasn’t a milestone on my life plan.
But don’t we all need to know people more when we decide to get married? Do we ever truly and completely know the people to whom we get hitched? Can we anticipate the way they may grow and change after the ceremony is done? I have had longer relationships, and thus known other men “better,” but what I see as important and necessary to a healthy relationship, isn’t the same as when it was at 23, when I was in my last serious relationship. Olivier and I view the world in the same way. We’re both artists, liberals, feminists, atheists, and have strong connections to our family. We want the same things for each other, for the people we love, and for the world around us. Even a year ago, I would have balked at the idea of getting engaged so soon, but when you find someone with whom you want to share your life, certain things just click into place.
Oh, and yes, I have been taking my medication as prescribed.
As for fears that this is just about a green card — I don’t want to permanently live in Paris, nor does he want to permanently live in New York City. Our partnership is a give and take, and neither one of us is requesting that we give up our individual lives in our respective cities. As a compromise, we’ll divide our time between both, an option we’re grateful to have thanks to the flexibility in our careers (freelance writing and music). Who doesn’t want to live in both Paris and NYC? Can’t beat that!
But really, why did I accept his proposal of marriage with an overwhelming “Hell, yeah!”? Simply, love.
The rational side of me will always argue that love is a chemical reaction within human beings that forces us to, ultimately, keep the species going, but the romantic side of me, the one I’ve only recently discovered, has put rationale on the back burner. Sometimes you just need to go with it, and not debate or over-analyze the “this and that” of things.
Olivier and I may only have five months under our belt, but we have the same chance at success in love and marriage as anyone else. I’ve spent too much of my life proceeding with caution when it came to matters of the heart, but I’m done with that. I feel what I feel, and I’m not about to throw it away.
To quote James Joyce, “Love loves to love love.” I think, in the end, that’s all that should really matter. How many months it takes to get there is just a measurement of time, and time is both precious and fleeting. I’m done wasting mine.
Original by Amanda Chatel