Photo by Alvin Mahmudov on Unsplash
The day he told me about her, I didn't think much. She was just another in the endless 'flavor of the month' category. But as I started hearing more and more about her, I wondered if this was the new chapter of his life I thought would never come.
Then, he met me for lunch one fall day and just blurted it out as soon as we got into my car.
"I'm going to marry her." And I turned to him as if it were the first time I was seeing him.
After swinging from gypsies to hardcore business professionals and back to bohemian types, I had honestly never expected him to settle for anyone.
"You've had so many loves..." I laughed, hoping he wouldn't be insulted. "I've seen this starry-eyed look for years. Help me out!"
He smirked, showing me he understood my good-natured jest.
"I...showed her...everything." He said finally. "Not just dropping it in vague here and there. Really showed her...my true self." Looking at his hands as if they were filthy, he shook his head and looked up at me.
"She feels just as damaged and broken. I showed her ugly things about me and it really made sense to her."
"I've never cared about mistakes you've made or parts of you that aren't perfect." I took the car to our favorite taco joint around the corner, reminding him of the years of rollercoaster ups and downs I'd been a part of.
"You're into chicks, babe, I could never marry you. You knowing all that stuff is just...different." Holding the door, we walked in and ordered. It was true; marriage wasn't in the cards for us. We were meant to be lifelong friends instead. I'd loved him for the respect he'd always shown me.
Could it be he had finally found a girl who felt the same?
"So this is really it? She's really the one?" I resumed our topic after we found a corner booth.
"My...don't laugh. My spirit just feels...it's just so easy, being with her. There is no 'come here, go away' game, no constant fights about needing space then feeling abandoned. No power struggle. No urge to change my hair or my car. Ya know? It's so easy to be with her. She's quieting to the rage of thoughts and feelings I get. I'm tired of fighting for love that doesn't satisfy."
Watching him, I realized that I, too, was tired of watching my friend spend all his energy fighting for love that was subpar. Love that ended up sucking the life out of him. The drama game player, the one that was into drugs, the super professional one; they all had intentions involving changing him in some way.
In the past few months, I realized I hadn't heard about fights or drama. He had been easy to be around.
"I think that we romantics think that having something worthwhile should be hard." I said finally. "And sometimes, things we really want are things we have to fight for. But when you put it that way, and I think about it, you're on to something."
He smiled through a mouthful of taco at me. It was a messy grin I hoped she was charmed by.
"I'm tired and old." He swallowed the mouthful. "That's true."
"I don't think you're old. I think you've had...experiences...and now you're seeing that the next part of your life is going to need someone at your side that is just...there to compliment and not forever contradict."
"Help me pick out a ring." He asked in reply.
"Pick it out with her." I insisted.
"That's not how it works." He shot me a look.
"She's apparently not just any girl," I teased. "Why not be different?"
The traditional solitaire was paired with matching bands that were molded to look woven like random branches or ripples in a pool. She gushed to me later that she had been afraid to point them out, but when she did, he had agreed with her without hesitation. That was when they knew that, in spite of their past drama and tumult, the many forks in the road and the stormy waters had brought them together.
It was a wedding I never thought I would see happen, not after all the abuse and pain he'd gone through in his life. But when a person comes to your best friend with the touch of a healing balm and the strength of a warm breeze, gentle and promising, you realize it's meant to be.
Even the broken among us can find a light to celebrate their jagged edges.