A Lifetime Together by Noella Wigtil
I am not a fool who will attempt to explain any of the twists and turns and waltzes of my engagement, which I clearly do not truly understand myself because my relationship, like all other relationships in every person’s lifetime, is unique from every other relationship, and mine seems to change somehow at least twice a day if not more, and my engagement, like all other engagements, is legally non-existent until the actual marriage and is simply a commitment made by two parties from a somewhat logical and somewhat emotional standpoint, and if something shifts there you are throwing knick-knacks and letters into a box listening to sad music about broken relationships. In addition, the person I am engaged to, or at least I was earlier today, is an unending box of mystery whom I do my best to simply enjoy and cherish instead of trying to make sense of all of him, or may the Lord have mercy if I wrap my mind around his quirks, because trying to dissect a living person’s brain is a one-way ticket to listening to sad music and burning a pile of letters.
But there are many joyous and intriguing things that have happened in my relationship, and I want to share them with you in hopes that you can explain them to me because I am more than baffled. Like how I came across his high school graduation photos, and I told him how cute they were and he turned red and walked away. Or how the next day he slipped and hurt his back and I spent the day running ice packs back and forth from the freezer for him. Or how he calls me in the middle of the night to ask me if I think rhinos or elephants would do better as war animals? Or how he gets lost in the stories he tells that they go on for hours and when he notes the time he heads straight to bed. Or how he pulls up an armchair to the dining room table so that he’s more comfortable painting miniatures. Or how he always forgets to pick up more shampoo when he’s run out. Or how he never cancels a board game night even if most people can’t make it. Or how on rare occasions he gets angry and bites back at whoever wronged him. Or how he sometimes gets overwhelmed because emotions exhaust him because while he’s there for others, he still doesn’t understand that he can let others be there for him. Or how our relationship has gone from Walmart dates to coffee dates to sitting in front of the TV to going shopping to loud to quiet and sometimes it’s strained and I worry that it’s less of a relationship and more of a shipwreck and sometimes I am overcome with joy that it always gets put back together stronger than before.
It happens frequently that I brood on the idea that all relationships make no sense at all but then I am gladdened by his presence next to me in the living room or on the phone and it’s invigorating and fulfilling and sometimes so stressful and heartbreaking that I go cry and pray and hide and sob and do my homework and realize that I am by no means a perfect partner, I am just a woman, confused, and thinking.
I have a far better memory than he does, that’s a common conversation piece, and I remember the way the first tear of his I saw rolled down his cheek, as he told me the story of his uncle who had died, who he wished he had reached out to more, who died alone, and I recall the sparkle in his eye when he got on one knee and asked me to be his wife and I held him and embraced him and we felt like the only people in the library, and I will never forget how he has held me as I’ve cried, and how he has stayed up late to call me when I get off of work, and the way he smiles and the way he laughs and all his jokes and favorite foods and struggles and successes, yet even though we are engaged I know him hardly at all; which is indeed part of what a relationship is, and why the upcoming lifetime we will spend together is the greatest memory of all even if it changes twice a day or more, if the future comes, which I believe will happen, and I plead with God will happen, even though no one, especially not me and especially not my fiance, knows if our dreams of the future will come true, which I think is the point of what a relationship is.
But how would I know?
This piece is an imitation of Brian Doyle’s The Next Eleven Minutes.