A Look Back: Nick & Nora

23 Sep

“I talked to my father the other day,” Nick said. Just like always, his driver’s side window was down, the A/C blasted into the tiny cab of his truck. Because of this his left arm was constantly hanging out the window leaving him with a permanent farmer’s tan. 

“Oh, about what?” I said absentmindedly, thinking it had something to do with the status of the MU Tigers or some other sports-related thing, as that is all they ever bonded over.  The country road whizzed by as they barreled down the highway to a farm party or some such activity, a country music station fizzled as the antennae searched for a signal.

” A jeweler. He gave me the name of the family jeweler so that when I’m ready, I can call and get you a ring.” He said it just like that. No fanfare. No trying to be secretive about. To Nick’s credit, he did have a sparkle in his eyes and a smile played on his lips as he glanced toward’s the passenger seat, waiting for my reaction.

” Ah. Well. That’s… exciting.” That was not the response I wanted to come out of my mouth. Immediately my stomach twisted up into knots, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Had he really just said “you” and “ring” in the same sentence? Meaning engagement. I was only 21, and even at that a young 21. Had you asked me then, I would have told you I’d be married by 24, not 21.

In an instant my life flashed before my eyes. I’d be forced to accept a job with the State Government, to be a drone, day in and day out. The only benefit to that, I thought, was the extreme amount of holidays and vacation days I would be forced to take. And maybe the fact that there wineries and beautiful countryside near by. Within a few years we’d buy a house in the countryside, adopt a few more dogs and before I knew it I’d be barefoot and pregnant.

It would have been a life of quiet. Of comfort.  Of minimal passion and little romance. Of little ambition for as great as Nick was, he made it clear that he never wanted to leave this town. I was afraid the promise of love and marriage wouldn’t be enough to keep me in the town where he grew up, which was 30 minutes away from the State Capitol.

It was a life that I was unsure I wanted. After 18 months of dating I felt terrible thinking that but I just couldn’t envision myself living in a smaller town for the rest of my life. We made it through my undergraduate graduation, somehow, and then through Christmas. New Year’s came and went, which we spent apart; a telltale sign. We made the decisions to go our separate ways; each of us in search of individual adventures.

Nick found his: finishing college, switching jobs, getting married and adopting his wife’s child.

And as for me, well, I’ve had adventures in dating, in love, in jobs, in trips, with friends and family. I know that one day I’ll find a man who I’m meant to have lifelong adventures with and when he mentions the idea of THE ring? I won’t want to throw up in my mouth.

I’m glad that my 21 year-old self was wrong about me getting married at 24.

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15 Responses to “A Look Back: Nick & Nora”

  1. Jess September 23, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    I got married at 21. At 25 I had my first kid. At 26 I had my second.

    The thing is. It was right, for me. I’d met the man, and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. I couldn’t imagine my life with anyone else. I wanted those things for myself. I wanted to be young, and married and pregnant. At that time, I believed I could have it all. I couldn’t, because no one does, but in my youth I didn’t know that.

    I’m 32, and I just celebrated my tenth anniversary to the man. I have 3 kids, have had numerous careers, and sometimes look back and wonder where the last ten years went. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    And I think that’s just the point. We need to know ourselves, and what we want. What we’re okay with, will make us happy.

  2. Megan September 23, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    I really, really love this post. I’m glad you didn’t jump on the idea of marriage because you felt like you had to.

  3. Kyla Roma September 23, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    I think that the wanting to throw up thing is definitely a practical barometer! lol It’s crazy how close we all come to all these different lives, even in the small choices we make, never mind the big ones.

    I’m so glad that you listened to your heart at that moment and found another path :)

  4. mandy September 23, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    Kyla’s right, it is crazy how one moment, one decision can lead to living an incredibly different life. I’m glad that you knew and trusted yourself enough to know that sort of life wasn’t what you wanted. Its sort of mind boggling when I look back realizing that my decisions could have led me down a completely different path.

  5. Lisa from Lisa's Yarns September 23, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    This reminds me of my bad dream about standing outside of the church, knowing I couldn’t go through with it.

    Also, I remember at Christmas when R & I were opening Christmas presents, he said he had something else and went to his duffle bag to pull something out and I had an ‘oh shit’ moment where I thought – what if he is going to pull out a ring? He pulled out a picture frame instead. Phew. I felt relief.

    We broke up 2 weeks later. That moment just showed me that this was not the right relationship for me.

    And I know I have complained and moaned about being single, but I am also really glad I didn’t get married in my 20s. I have had so many great adventures that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. And if I was married, I probably wouldn’t be planning a trip to Paris for my 30th. :)

  6. phampants September 23, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    I had a weird dream about something similar to this with a recent ex. I know exactly how you feel.

  7. Stephany September 23, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    It’s really awesome that you were so in tune to yourself to know this wasn’t right for you. We can make some pretty stupid decisions when we’re young but it seems like you made the best decision for you.

    And yeah, you probably want to feel emotions like elation and excitement when you get engaged. ;)

  8. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair September 23, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    Bahahaha, I’m sorry but this: “when he mentions the idea of THE ring? I won’t want to throw up in my mouth.”? HILARIOUS. LOL’ing right now!

    Clearly you made the right decision!

  9. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks September 23, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    I think we’ve all been in relationships where there are signs, flags, things that make it clear two people aren’t supposed to be together. One can only hope we’re each as smart as your 21-year old self to know when it’s time to get out, before there is far too much at stake.

  10. Dream in Grey September 23, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    Wow! I can’t imagine having known at 21 that I wanted to be married by x age, let alone knowing i didn’t want to marry the person i was with at the time. When i was 21 i hardly knew myself at all.

  11. DC Princess September 23, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    I loved this post. The way you wrote it and the fact that you followed your heart.

  12. katelin September 23, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    i love this post nora. and it’s crazy, i couldn’t even fathom being married at 21 or at 24 even and matt and i were dating them. and now that i’m 26 and married it’s still weird to me, but it’s definitely right and where i need to be.

  13. Suburban Sweetheart September 23, 2010 at 11:25 pm #

    Maybe Garth Brooks is a pretty smart dude: “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers,” too.

  14. Maddy September 24, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    You’re really smart to follow your gut, instead of doing the next best things according to others. You’re the captain of your own destiny! Continue to enjoy the many adventures life has to offer :)

  15. Akirah September 26, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    I must say I can relate to this. Actually, quite recently, I was having the night of my life and my phone rang. It was the ex. Immediately I felt grateful that we didn’t get married. That thought enters my mind often…it took awhile, but I truly am happy again.

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