Despite protests of “being too young”, Taylor Campbell and his (now) wife, Gabrielle, were eager to be married. Here is his beautiful recollection of their blooming romance and marriage.
Eloping isn’t hip.
Correction: It’s hip in books and on television and in the lives of your friends’ friends. The idea of two people falling madly in love, getting married, and running off together works in movies and stories. But in the real world where bills are due and student loans are oppressors and people have plans, eloping is reckless—particularly when the lovers are two nineteen-year-olds in their sophomore and junior years of college.
I married Gabrielle anyway. We eloped in July after a weeklong engagement. She wore her white sundress and I wore my white button-down, and we walked into Borough Hall with two of our closest friends to exchange vows before a judge who wore sneakers and a floral blouse. The process took less than an hour.
Eight months earlier, on the night we met, Gabrielle was clad in pajamas. I was living on the Lower East Side; she was living in Midtown. Hurricane Sandy had shut down power on Ludlow, and our school attempted to solve the issue of homework and dead iPhones by assigning guys to girls’ dorms in Midtown and in Brooklyn Heights. I ended up at 6C5.
She was recovering from a fever. I convinced her that she needed fresh air, so we went for a walk in Times Square. After that night, we spent every day together. In two weeks, we walked more than fifty miles. After two weeks, we started calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend. After three, we said the “love” word. Within a month, we had picked four sets of baby names — first and middle — and decided which Latin American country to move to when we graduated.
It happened fast. And one night in January, I was walking alone through the empty streets of Chinatown — homeward bound from the Grand Street subway station — when it dawned on me that I was fully committed to her. I was tired of saying goodbye every night before boarding a Brooklyn-bound D train. I wanted to bear her burdens and harbor her secrets and fight her battles. I wanted to wake up beside her in the morning and fall asleep with her next to me at night. I wanted to be her husband.
It took a while for us to dismiss the misgivings others imposed on us about marriage. Everything had to do with youth (and the inability to make good life decisions that apparently accompanies it).
Don’t you want to wait until you graduate? Shouldn’t you have a good-paying job first? Don’t you think you should take some time to find yourself? Don’t you want to travel? What if there’s someone better out there? You haven’t even been together for a year — people change.
And my personal favorite: You’re not even old enough to operate the stove.
Everyone’s objections seemed to amount to this deep-seated fear of responsibility and commitment at a young age—and an unwieldy preoccupation with independence.
But we loved each other. And marriage was on our mind. And there is a novel I could write on how my conception of marriage — of its beauty and gravity and divineness — changed after a semester of critically considering it. I must, however, abridge the novel thus: I understand marriage to consist in selfless devotion to another person for a lifetime. And Gabrielle and I were ready to devote ourselves to each other for the rest of our lives. So, I proposed.
And we eloped a week later.
Image Credit: Maxine Fileta.