December 15, 2011

on marrying young.

Radley and I met in San Diego when we were twenty. From the beginning things were different with us—almost eerily comfortable, deja-vu happening so often that I started to wonder whether we'd met before. Even stranger than that: things were easy. Our relationship was so terrifyingly easy, and I found myself questioning it if only out of habit. Eventually, though, I learned that the best love is simple, and that at the center of that simplicity is an unconditional, fantastic friendship.

After graduation, we had to have The Talk: I'm from Chicago and he's from San Francisco, so what would we do? Live in separate cities for a while and fly to visit regularly? Or move somewhere together and see, once and for all, if this was it? (Breaking up was definitely not one of the options.)

We picked the "Let's See If This Is It" plan, so Radley moved to Chicago with the understanding that after two years in my city, we'd move together to his hometown, San Francisco. Obviously, it's a plan that worked—and obviously, as I sit in San Francisco and stare at the ring on my finger, I can say that, yes, this most definitely is it. He's The One, Mr. Right, the whole package. Everything I always, always knew I wanted—only better. 

When people hear that we're engaged, there's an inevitable follow-up question: "Wait... how old are you again?" And when we say that we're twenty-four, the reaction is almost always the same: "Wow," they say, eyebrows raised, surprised. "You're so young."

It's true. We are. And for a long time—as in, my entire life—I imagined that I'd be single right now. I imagined that at twenty-four I'd be single, living in New York, and nowhere near marriage. I imagined that I'd be living with my girlfriends and pretending that I was Carrie Bradshaw—minus the wardrobe. Instead, though, I met the most incredible person I've ever known and he just so happened to be from a city that's on the opposite coast. And my girlfriends, they're not in New York, either. They're spread out across the country, in Denver and Chicago and Portland and San Diego. Some are engaged and others are single, and hardly any of us are where we expected to be—in the U.S. or in life.

I understand that marrying young isn't for some people, I really do—truth is, I thought it wasn't for me, either. There's something to be said for waiting, for focusing on your friends and your career and dating throughout your life so that by the time you run into that one person, you never have to question it. I believe in that theory, and if I hadn't met Radley, I'd probably be living it.

I did meet him, though, so any kind of life plan I'd ever created for myself bent and unfolded to allow room for him—for us. And still, I'm always sort of shocked to see how much of my life has gone the way I'd thought it might: I went to school in California, earned my Masters, and work in publishing. I followed the path I set out for myself, and that never really ceases to amaze me, since 99% of my plans begin and end on paper, never quite seeing the light of day.

There are certainly upsides and downsides to marrying young. The most common "downside" is true: in every decision you make, you have another person to consider. In that sense, yes, there's less individual freedom. But in my experience, I feel sort of blessed to consider Radley. I feel blessed that there's someone in this world who means so much to me that I want to match my life to his.

A stranger, actually, is the person who said it best, I think. One afternoon I was sitting in Starbucks when an older woman glanced at my ring and asked my age. I waited for the usual reaction, but she was quiet for a moment. Eventually she leaned over, as if we were in on some sort of secret.

"I'd have given anything to share all that extra time with the love of my life," she said. "To share all those extra years, all those experiences in your twenties that shape you forever. You're lucky."

Extra time together, that's how she put it. Lovely, don't you think?

(Photo: My Flickr)

33 comments:

AM said... [Reply to comment]

Beautifully written. I'm so glad I found your blog.

Ashley and Patrick said... [Reply to comment]

I was your shoes just a few years ago. I got engaged at 25, married at 26. I always planned to be single for a good long time...like well into my 30's. I loved being single, being carefree, doing exactly what I wanted, when I wanted.

But that all changes when you meet the one. Because suddenly all I wanted to do was...well, do whatever...with HIM. I could live anywhere, be anywhere, work anywhere, if I did it with him. Besides, all those adventures are just more fun with your best friend!

Extra time is a beautiful way to put it. Think about it - we'll be married (God willing) for at least 60 years! How lucky to have so much time with that special person :)

Ryan Adair said... [Reply to comment]

This was an awesome post. I like the extra years perspective much better than the age perspective;)

Shannon said... [Reply to comment]

This post really hit home for me, since I got married at 22! Technically, I got married at 22.5 since our wedding day was my half birthday (and yes, I did make mention of it like a 7 year-old says their ACTUALLY 7 years and 3 months old). I received the same congratulations-but-aren't-you-a-little-young? response from strangers, and even from some nosy but harmless family members.

I never thought I would be married this young, things just happen that we can't plan and that we shouldn't plan. And like you said about your past, who knows where we will be in our future? Or our friends? Your free-spirited and exhaustively independent best friends may turn completely the opposite way, glued to their husbands and wives, by the time they're 30!

I think you've got the balance idea. And what a sweet way to think of marrying young as simply "extra time." It makes it seem like a gift.

Hilal said... [Reply to comment]

I liked the story. Glad to follow your blog! ;)

The Magnificent Lou said... [Reply to comment]

The little secret from the woman at Starbucks made me tear up a tiny bit! So true.

My boyfriend is 25 and I'm 22; we have had the talk (and more and more of those talks) and know that we want to marry each other. I didn't mean to meet him at age 18. I wasn't looking for anyone. I'm like you - I pictured myself soaking up the adventure that comes with being a single 20-something. But we fell hard and -like you and Radley - breaking up isn't an option. I think when you know, you know.

Which is why I'm excited (!!) to say that we found the perfect ring last weekend, so the big question is just around the corner. Some of our family is skeptical about how young we are, and some of our family is so supportive it almost hurts. In the end, both of our families are happy that someone loves their son/daughter so much, and that's really all that matters - young or old.

Rachelle said... [Reply to comment]

Beautiful.

I think of my parents and grandparents who were born in generations who, more often than not, married young-- my grandparents have been married for 65 years, my parents for 43. Compare that to our generation plagued by selfishness & divorce. I think our grandparents and parents had it right.

To you I say, congratulations! On finding the person you want to be with forever. On finding the one who compliments and complements you [loved that from your previous post!]. On being brave [to brake the norm of today's society and go with your heart]. On marrying young.

Maura said... [Reply to comment]

so beautifully written! the last part about the lady in Starbucks gave me chills. life is funny in so many ways but it always seems to work out!

Holly said... [Reply to comment]

This is beautiful!

I think it's extra important that you focused on how easy it is for you two. I've seen couples my age & younger who have not been very stable, and have sort of 'forced' their love and have had to 'work at it' way more than the average couple does. Not many of them are very happy, and some of them are now divorced.

Of course, every couple has to work on things- ups and downs are just normal. But the fact that you two don't have to force love and/or happiness is the greatest thing of all; regardless of age :) I'm so happy for you two! xoxo

Catherine said... [Reply to comment]

I got married at nineteen! It has been 8 years, and it has been wonderful. I wouldn't advise most people to get married that young, when there is still so much growing up to do. But I was lucky enough to have found the one.
:)

xx, C

Earth to Lois Lane said... [Reply to comment]
This comment has been removed by the author.
A. E. Baez said... [Reply to comment]

Yours has to be the most uplifting blog on the web and I'm so glad to have found it. Such a lovely entry -- wishing you and Radley the very best!

Nicole said... [Reply to comment]

Beautifully written post, as usual! My husband and I got married a little over a year ago (He:22, Me:23)and it was very much the same situation that you & Radley are in; we just fell into something that we knew was meant to last.

What the woman at Starbucks said to you made me tear up, and put words to something that I have been feeling since I met my wonderful husband.

Thanks so much again for the lovely post. Your blog is wonderful.

RetreatingAndAdvancing said... [Reply to comment]

This is so beautifully written! I'm happy for you and Radley and totally understand you.
If what the woman at Starbucks said was written in a book, I'd write it into my notebook of favourite quotes.

Mateus Lopes said... [Reply to comment]

very beautiful text, i wish all the best for you guys :D

Katherine Krieg said... [Reply to comment]

oh my goodness - absolutely love it! congrats to both of you. so wonderful.

♥Abby said... [Reply to comment]

Lovely post :) I can really relate to it. I feel like that will be the same for me and my boyfriend...I know hardly any relationships last in high school, but we're going on 2 years, and it feels so right. He is different that most guys, and I'm not just saying that. If we do end up getting married someday, it will make me so happy. If someone says we're too young, I'll put it like the lady did.. we just got extra time together :)
I wish the best for your and Radley's marriage =)

♥Abby

missy. said... [Reply to comment]

i don't understand people marrying young, but i do understand being so in love with someone and spending as much time together, as the two of you have, experiencing life, that it works.

i'm so happy for you. xoxo

Elizabeth and Kyle @ Love Is the Adventure said... [Reply to comment]

Well, when Kyle and I got married, I was only 18. :) And we've been married almost six years now. Oh, the LOOKS we got (and still get) and the unkind things people said! I remember the judgment from others almost being harder than young marriage itself. The fact is that only you and Radley knew when the moment was right for you. It's not anyone else's moment. Thanks for sharing this - it hit close to home for me, too.

Ana Magdalena said... [Reply to comment]

this is beautiful.

I wish you two the best of the luck, you two are a lovely couple!

Kristina Streeter said... [Reply to comment]

I LOVE what the woman said, and I think it fits perfectly! We have gotten the "so young" comment before (heck we still get it and we have been married for 2 years), but the way I see it - when you know, you know!

Rachael said... [Reply to comment]

That was sweet what that woman said to you. I actually never thought about being married young like that before.
I'm not married, and I'm over 24, but I think partly is that I'm not ready to be married. I have no idea what kind of guy I want to marry, but I think that those things happen when they're supposed to.
I'm glad you found someone early in your life, and so cares if you're young anyway?! Being in love is a great thing, no matter what age you are.

Laura Marie said... [Reply to comment]

@A. E. Baez That's honestly the best compliment you could've possibly given me—thank you! Appreciate it :)

Sweet said... [Reply to comment]

Oh, Laura! Just do it! : )

Briel79 said... [Reply to comment]

What the woman said to you at Starbucks brought tears to my eyes. I'm already 32 and have not found my "one". I hope to meet him soon.

Malin said... [Reply to comment]

Love IS supposed to be simple. It's something I realised after a heartbreaking break-up. A relationship is not supposed to cause you tons of pain, then it isn't worth it. (IMO) So if it's right, it's right, and to me, who is only a reader of your blog, you and Radley seem as right as anyone can be.

What that old woman said is beautiful too. Extra time. I want that too.

Keep writing lovely lady. You write really well!!

Kayla Poole said... [Reply to comment]

Agreed on all counts! (as a newly married 25 year old).

I do, I do. said... [Reply to comment]

You have that gentle power to pen down the simplest yet valuable things in such a nice and communicative way. Glad I found you! :)

From India, with love. :)

http://inthepourinrain.blogspot.com/

I do, I do. said... [Reply to comment]

PS Following you now! :D

KT Mac said... [Reply to comment]

I know it's an older post...I starred this in Google Reader to respond to when I wasn't on a work computer and somehow, it got buried.

Your words always leave me thinking, and I can't stop thinking about how lucky we are to have all this time with our loves. Enjoy it....every magical, mundane moment of it....you'll never regret the time spent together. Congratulations on being so lucky in love and your engagement!

Danielle Carroll said... [Reply to comment]

I just got married in July at 23 (Husband is 25). It's funny how different my perspective is from yours! A lot of my friends married younger, so I didn't look at us as being young --I thought we were at the perfect age, but, more importantly, the perfect place in our lives.

I moved across the country (WV to Seattle) to be with him, got my dream job as a technical writer/editor, and just knew that now was time.

By the way, saw some of your wedding photos. Very, very beautiful!!

Danielle Carroll said... [Reply to comment]

I just got married in July at 23 (Husband is 25). It's funny how different my perspective is from yours! A lot of my friends married younger, so I didn't look at us as being young --I thought we were at the perfect age, but, more importantly, the perfect place in our lives.

I moved across the country (WV to Seattle) to be with him, got my dream job as a technical writer/editor, and just knew that now was time.

By the way, saw some of your wedding photos. Very, very beautiful!!

Kate Harvey said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Laura, I just discovered your blog and found my way to this post. It's just beautiful. I got married even younger than you--23!--though my husband is older (he was 28). We got married a short 15 days after you wrote this post, on December 30 2011. And I couldn't agree with you more. Going through my twenties with my husband, having our babies at a young age, making huge life decisions together--it's the best. I feel so blessed, as you obviously do too, to have found him at such a young age.