I find myself lingering when I come across photographs from a woman’s wedding, and I realize something has changed. I do not know this woman at all; the photos danced across my feed thanks to one of her bridesmaids, my friend’s ex-girlfriend. But, I find myself studying the bride as well as the burgundy lace on the sleeves of the bridesmaids’ dresses. I am fascinated and held captive for longer than I should be, and it occurs to me that maybe I’m not as different or as unconventional as I once thought. Maybe I’m just like everyone else. Maybe I want the same things.
The first time I thought “I want to marry him” was on our fourth date. Some people would say that was too soon. Some people would say that even considering marriage at this point is still too early. But perhaps to those people I would say that I have spent enough nights tied up with dead end men and too many days crying over them. I am no longer interested in waiting to find out where a road leads or withholding the truth about where I’d like to go. So on our fourth date, I told him “I think you might be my person.” And he has been my person ever since.
Sometimes the old me-the lovelorn me, the boisterous me, the living-out-loud-on-the-Internet me feels far away. Some days it feels like she fell off into this ditch and this new version of myself just went speeding away. Sometimes I miss how easily the words would pour when I was hurting or aching or yearning for more. Sometimes I wonder if I’m still a writer or if I’m now just a woman who occasionally writes. The ways in which I’m evolving and changing now are happening both slowly and at top speed, and sometimes it feels like I can’t capture it all. Sometimes it feels bigger than a blog post. In fact, most days it is.
And I wonder if I sold my audience a bill of goods, if I spent all these years preaching about an unconventional life when all I want now are the traditional things. A husband. Children. A home where I am needed and safe and loved. The things I want now are what Taylor Jenkins Reid called “the daily peace of loving plainly.” And I wonder if that goes against the big life I once thought I needed, the life where my words touched people and sent a ripple effect through the world. I wonder if I can have both or if I somehow have to choose. I wonder if I am allowed both a big life and a small one-a quiet one, a life where I am fueled most by the responsibility of loving and being loved. I wonder if this hope for both a big life and a small one is overly ambitious. I wonder if ultimately circumstances will force my hand one way or the other. I wonder if despite my best efforts, I am not above the law and I simply cannot have it all.
And, yet, I still find myself lingering. On pages of books. On videos of toddlers. On the Lao Tzu quote, “Being loved deeply by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” I linger on photos of brides. On songs about love. On tweets by my favorite writers. On pages from personal blogs. I linger on the things that resonate most with my core, the things that make that make me hum and resound. And those things are vast and varied. But maybe I am not so different. Maybe I am just like everyone else. Maybe I want some of the same things.