Dad: “So how are things going with your boyfriend?”
Me: “Really well! [Insert innocuous noises about how well everything is going here].”
Dad: “Maybe you should consider marriage.”
Me: “Eventually…I’m only 22.”
Dad: “You’re almost 23.”
Almost 23! I should switch to bifocals and start eating calcium soft-chews right now!
I’m not sure why my dad suddenly decided that marriage was a good idea for me. When I was growing up, he always told me not to feel pressured to get married and have children—like the women of his generation did. And his marriage to my late mother ended in separation when I was 3.
In fact, most of my friends’ parents are also divorced. My boyfriend’s parents are divorced! So why would I consider marriage? And why at 22—sorry, almost 23–when I don’t even feel like a “real” adult because I don’t have a full-time job, I don’t have health insurance, and I’ve never signed a lease on an apartment?
“Real” adults consider marriage. I don’t.
Well…sometimes I do.
Like last month, when my boyfriend and I were visiting his family in Westchester. The daydreaming started when I was sitting at their kitchen table, looking out the window at their sunny backyard, and thinking it would be nice to live in a place like that. You forget how quiet the suburbs are compared to the city—it seemed like I could really concentrate and get some writing done there.
And then my boyfriend and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. It was an obscenely pleasant, sunny day—everyone’s lawns were so green they looked like they were in Technicolor. People smiled and said hello to us for no reason at all. There were adorable dogs and children running around having water-balloon fights. I wondered what it would be like to have these people as neighbors. I imagined an idyllic, retro existence where my boyfriend and I got married and bought one of those houses and commuted into the city…
Of course, it was a fantasy. I grew up in the suburbs, and couldn’t wait to get out. And I love my boyfriend, but I’m not sure what marriage would change about our relationship. We’d get a tax break?
It was an appealing fantasy, because I want to feel like a “real” adult—secure, stable, committed to something—but marriage doesn’t guarantee that. For now, I’m signing a lease on a new apartment—and my boyfriend is moving in. We won’t have a Technicolor lawn, but we will have fire escape plants. And as it turns out, there are adorable dogs and children running around Brooklyn, too. A full-time job with health insurance can’t be far behind!