When I met Ned two years and two months ago, he told me he'd never married, and what I told myself was, Okay, Missy. What you are going to have to remember is this leopard is not going to change his spots. If someone's gone this long without marrying, you aren't gonna change him, even with the Magic that is June.
So that's how I kept it, and for a long time that was okay. I met Ned just 10 months after Marvin moved out, so for I was content just to be dating someone I really liked. And I was happy to have my alone time, and to see Ned a few days a week.
About a year ago, we talked about how happy we were, and how great it was that we met each other, and how we couldn't fathom what could break us up. "The only thing I can think of is if I get marriage-y," I said. And I worried that might happen. From age 27 on, I was ready to be married. I was excited by the idea of having a person and being someone else's person. I do not regret marrying Marvin. I was happy for a long time. So I wondered if the desire to get married would creep back in.
And the thing is, I love Ned. I love everything about him, even how it takes him eighty-six years to look at a menu. Even how he has to watch every sporting event ever invented in the history of time. I love him. And maybe a month ago, I realized that goddammit, I wanted to marry him.
I want his family to be my family. I want to be his In Case of Emergency. I want to hear every detail about his day for the rest of time, and to watch him grow into a crotchety old man, which should happen in about three months. I want Ned to be the last person I see before I fall over dead. Plus, when someone is as riveting in the feathers as Ned, you don't want to give that up. Ever.
I still know that if Ned hasn't married anyone yet, he ain't gonna. So I did the next-best thing. I asked if we could move in together. And he took some time to think it over, but eventually said yes. He said he wanted us to move somewhere bigger than my one-bathroom 1950s ranch, so that his cat could have her own space and never, ever have to get humped by Tallulah.
But the thing is, we said that several months ago and have made no move to do it. On my end, it was because if Ima rent or sell this place? It needs a TON of work. Painting, fixing, things I don't know how to do. I'm overwhelmed.
And I didn't know why Ned wasn't looking for a place or even mentioning it, but it was starting to scare me.
In the meantime, people around us were getting engaged, and one of my friends just met someone 30 days ago and already knows he wants to marry this woman.
It's now been three full years since Marvin left, and I realized what I wanted again was a life partner. Someone I saw every day, who'd help me paint the damn ceilings if they needed painting. I didn't want to be just someone's girlfriend anymore. I don't want to say goodbye to Ned on Sunday night. I don't need a husband, but I DO want to feel like I'm with the person I'm going to be with forever. I want to feel safe in that.
The other night I wrote down every single thing I wanted in a man, and I realized with great sadness that what I wanted was more than I was getting from Ned, who I loved so much. I went to Ned's on Tuesday and didn't sleep all night. I just watched Ned sleep, trying to memorize everything about him. I tried not to wake him while I cried, thinking about how I'd never meet anyone I loved like this.
I even tried to say, Can't you just be content like this? Can't you just appreciate what Ned can give you, and not dwell on what he couldn't? But I knew I'd be settling for less and I'd get resentful if I did that. I didn't need marriage, but I did need a commitment.
Last night I got ready for Ned's and I was absolutely numb. Tallulah was standing by the door while I was leaving, so I told her the story and she stoically listened to all of it. I kissed her strong Pitty face. "Thanks for listening, Talu," I said, hugging her square head. "You're my best friend."
When I got to Ned's, he came to the door in his workout clothes. Did he have to look so damn cute? I would never find anyone who appealed to me the way Ned did.
I asked him to sit with me, and I was shaking while I told him I was not happy, and that we wanted different things, and that I was so very sorry.
"Are you breaking up with me?" Ned asked. I couldn't even get any words out. I just shook my head and held his hand.
Ned was calm. "Is that really necessary?" he asked.
Hunh. Well, I'd THOUGHT so. I'd worked myself up into a lather thinking it was so.
"Well, I guess I could tell you all the stuff I want. I wrote it all down last night, so I have a pretty good handle on it." So I listed off the things I wanted from him, and one by one we went down the list, and discussed what he could and could not do on that list, and it turns out?
He was willing to do all of them. I didn't ask for marriage and he still doesn't want to get married, but he's willing to move in with me, like, now, and help me with this house so we can rent it out, and see me as often as I want in the meantime and you know what?
I had no idea how much Ned loved me. I really didn't. I thought I would tell him how much of his time and his life I wanted and that he would balk. Turns out he was completely fine with giving me all that. I was just, I guess, not really asking for it.
"I don't know why you're surprised," said Ned, while we had celebratory potpies, because that's what you do when you near the brink and come back stronger with someone. "I really fucking love you."
And I really fucking love him.