Himay Zepeda on recognizing the moment when…
Six months from now I will be a married man. I figured I would start sharing my progress toward Mr. Zepeda status, so this is the first in a series of posts around this journey.
Some of you have all either already passed it, some are on your way, too, and some of you see it in the horizon. For everyone else who wants to go the George Clooney route, good on you.
Please consider this a National Geographic documentary on the To-be-wed tribe.
My fiancee and I have been together for over three years. In those three years we’ve had our share of challenges. What has made us different from some of my previous relationships, and some of the relationships I see around us, is that we don’t let things fester. This is key. Whenever a couple encounters a problem, a big question mark, or unease they have the option of doing something about it or not. Most couples don’t do anything. They let it sit. They avoid having that tough conversation which may or may not end well. They let it fester, so it grows into something larger. It grows into a pulsating, hairy, loud and messy thing.
We’re different. When we recognize the hairy issue we decide to talk about it. There’s risk in that, right? You never know if this will be the thing that breaks everything. These are also the conversations that are hardest to prepare for. But we have believe it will be hairier then than it is now, and so we deal with it now.
While we approach the hairy beast with care and tact—meanness never got anybody anywhere good—we still act on it. Otherwise our relationship could turn into one of those zombies where everything is “fine” even though it’s not; the relationship exists but it’s not exactly alive. Those zombie relationships walk around, moving as if a living thing, but not quite. By taking this approach we’ve become stronger and more in-tune to what the other person is feeling and needs. When she and I first agreed to never let things fester, I knew that I wanted to marry her.
I sometimes travel for my job. During a particularly long trip I had an epiphany. It had been a productive yet long string of days, and I was ready for a good meal. I was in New York and had my pick of delicious cuisine. I went with this a hole-in-the-wall French restaurant. The place was small, dimly lit, and the specials were written on a small blackboard the waitress moved from table to table.
As I received my food and held my beer, I started to think of the week thus far. A lot of good work had been done. I was proud of it. But there was a sinking void inside me, like a pool of quicksand in the middle of my chest. I was proud of my work, but upset that I didn’t have her there to share this moment. I called her and let know what I was feeling. As I spoke I thought: I want her to be there with me, to share every beautiful meal, every life-changing experience, every proud achievement, every day for the rest of my life. Otherwise, I’d be living half a life. After finishing that meal I knew that I wanted to marry her.
I turned 30 last year. The big number felt insignificant (except for that one time when “30” became overwhelming and almost broke me, but that’s stuff for another day), but it was still a special day. I often told friends that my vision for my 30th birthday involved a yacht, champagne, booming music, and all of them there. (In my vision, somehow P. Diddy was also invited.) My lady knew all of this and so she started scheming. FYI: she’s not very good at keeping secrets. She’d say stuff like, “I just thought of something that would be great for your secret birthday party!” Bless her heart.
Before I go further, let me tell you something of consequence: I love Mad Men. Love it. I am a huge fan and will talk about it at a detailed and philosophical level with any of you any time any day (I’m serious ).
Here scheming created something amazing.
The day of my birthday, when I arrived to the “undisclosed destination,” she welcomed me in an early 1960’s dress which she wore beautifully. All of my friends were there, many of whom were dressed in suits and ties, or wearing updo’s and pencil skirts. The menu included coconut shrimp and brown sugar-covered bacon (come on!). The drink menu had Old Fashioneds (my favorite), and Cuba Libres. There were vintage Playboy and Life magazines all over. She and her best friend made a banner with “Lucky Strike” and a pin-up on it. She built a Mad Men photobooth. She gifted me an elegant drink cart straight out of Roger Sterling’s office.
Countless details, crafted over probably countless hours and dollars. And she did it all with a warm smile and loving eyes. I was overwhelmed at how much she had given me. It was not a yacht, and from what I could tell P. Diddy was not in attendance, but it was unforgettable. This celebration was actually a little over a month before the day I proposed to her, so on that day I already knew I wanted to marry her, but it reminded me once more of why.
I’ve talked to most of my currently married friends about this. I ask them, When did you know? What has struck me is how different everybody’s moment or moments are. Some remember a feeling, others remember a conversation or an incident. Those wide range of moments do have something in common. They are when we recognized the difference between our life with her and our life without her. If the former is inspiring and the latter is unbearable, that’s when you know. Here’s to that moment.
More from Himay at GMP
Photo: Flickr/Tim Parkinson