This is Part II of my version of how Molly and I came into being a married couple. If you want to read Part I, click here.
The fact that Molly and I ever started to date (much less hang out) is something of a minor miracle. Or first meeting was about as awful as a bad CBS sitcom. It was my Mom of all people who decided to set me up with Molly, a person who I did not know, and who had a boyfriend at the time. Molly, on the other hand, was basically tricked by her boss into baby sitting the provost’s kid (me) when she thought she was being asked to babysit her boss’ kid instead (which was something she did often). To make things worse, Le Douche was at the apex of his power at the time. You could guess how the night went.
Given how awkward our previous attempts to hang out had been, it was a little surprising that Molly agreed to give me another chance to be her friend once I got into town. That night I met a blonder, sorta-single, and relieved Molly (she had also graduated only a few weeks earlier) and we decided to have a drink together. That one drink turned into an expansive, honest, and hilarious conversation that lasted until almost 3 am in downtown Memphis. She drove me home that night and asked if we could hang out again, and I was not disappointed in the least.
As we started to date that summer my insecurities and the internal censor on what I felt comfortable sharing with other people simply started to disappear. Unconsciously, and for the better, Le Douche started to quickly disappear from existence along with the omnipresent suit jacket/jeans ensemble that I had worn on dates (and virtually any other chance to “look cool”). Molly’s comforting presence and relaxed attitude towards being a couple allowed me for the first time ever to not be embarrassed about simply being me. Now I felt fine in wearing my Celtics t-shirt and ordering a beer out, as well as telling her all of my future aspirations and past failures. For a neurotic geek who is used to being stood up on dates or told “this is a one time thing”, knowing that someone is genuinely interested in knowing more about you is a new (and fantastic) feeling.
As I started to relax for the first time about how I looked or sounded, the relief allowed me to present a more genuine version of myself. People (to my surprise) actually seemed to like this version of me, and this self confidence allowed me to take bolder chances while acting in a serious and intelligent manner towards cultivating my future as an adult. Meanwhile Molly seemed to anticipate every stumbling block and concern that I had in developing our relationship. When my crappy job as a waiter left me too tired to come see her at midnight, she would come over to hang out at my house. When I needed to just whine about the fact that I was living with my parents, she would listen patently and not judge me (until subtly and gently reminding me that I was being a spoiled brat).
Perhaps sensing my inexperience or my concern about scaring her away by assuming to much into our nascent relationship, it was Molly who asked me if she could be my girlfriend. This was the first time anybody had ever asked me this, and at that point I was just too fearful to ask her myself. At that point that night was the greatest of my life (the fact that it was also the night the Celtics won it might have also helped). In case you were wondering I was the first person to say “I love you”, although I did it when I thought she was asleep .
As an official couple I finally got to experience what a romantic relationship really entails. There are the fun parts like hanging out all day and all night with each other on the weekends. There are the awkward yet rewarding experiences like meeting the in-laws (including accidentally telling her elderly and devoutly Catholic Grandmother that you have been living together and that it has been “fun”). And there are the incredibly shitty parts, like arguing over the unannounced new puppy, discussing why someone has not quit smoking or compulsively exercising, or debating about whose family is more difficult to deal with.
Dating, and then moving in with Molly provided me with more than the acceptance and confidence to be myself. Molly stressed to me (and has since reminded me on multiple occasions when I “forget”) the importance of being a partner. “Team Molly/Stefan” was the concept she defined to show her devotion to our relationship as it evolved from sneaking out of our parents’ houses at 6am to a lifestyle of raising a small zoo of pets while simultaneously paying each others student loans. For those who are scared of committing to a monogamous relationship, I cannot stress enough how important this issue of a “partnership” is in overcoming the unavoidable and unexpected tragedies and difficulties that are inherent in life (and there have been some real fun “life experiences” since we became a couple).
After we had lived together for a few months and gotten past the “clean the dishes more” or “please buy dog food that is not made in China” arguments I stopped thinking of my own needs as a primary concern. Sure I still made sure that I had my time to go running, or that our fridge was always stocked with the brand of cheese that I enjoyed (Kerrygold Irish Cheddar), but Molly stopped being this person whom I simply loved and happen to live with. I began to realize that she, and everything that she offered me as a partner, were aspects of my life that I knew I never wanted to be without. This epiphany also meant that I needed to do everything possible to preserve what we had in some sort of consecrated bond. It was scary, but in little more that a year and a half I had grown from the awkward suit jacket wearing Le Douche to someone confident and devoted enough to seriously consider proposing marriage.
I decided to start saving what little money I was making from my office job, and with the help of Molly’s friend Alex I bought an engagement ring. Of course Molly was not fooled when she caught me frantically searching through the place in our house where she kept her ring sizer, or when I needed to go “Christmas shopping” in July with Alex. Despite this, I fooled myself into thinking I was being sneaky, and I only told a few people about what I was planning.
I wanted to pop the question in a special place. Boston was the obvious choice, as living their during my college years allowed me to not only reconnect with my extended family but to also live in a city that has always been my spiritual home despite my many moves (and the fact that I had never lived their previously). The events of that weekend could not have happened without the help of the folks from Shapiro 1B. Molly and I slept in the home where Art, Sara, and Becky were renting. Ariel even came down from Maine to meet Molly. Erik and Jacques also stopped by to meet this person who I had been with for just over 18 months. It was with all of their support that I knew I could confidently ask what was then the most important question of my life.
October 17th was an exercise in patiently holding back my emotions. I did not plan exactly when or where I was going to ask her, and I was undecided about whether I wanted to publically drop down on one knee to do it. As a result we went about our day just like happy tourists, getting on the T to visit the Sam Adams brewery, walking some of the freedom trail, and eventually ending up in the Commons. After lunch we walked into the Commons, and as we started to walk up the path of a small bluff I noticed that the grey sky from that morning had cleared. Set against a backdrop of downtown Boston and its glorious fall colors, I started to hyperventilate a bit (Molly later told me that this indicated to her that the proposal was imminent). When I regained my composure I dropped to one knew and asked her to marry me. She said yes and kissed me before I had a chance to ramble any more. A sense of ultimate happiness and relief spread throughout me as we kissed amongst the cheers from tourists and homeless people.
Our wedding was the result of a multitude of favors and sacrifices from so many people. Our wedding parties went far beyond just making sure that Molly and I did not die during the bachelor/bachelorette parties (although they did a fantastic job at that too). The wedding cupcakes, the pictures, the booze, the coordinating of the events, the ceremony, the roof where we celebrated, and virtually every other aspect of that day came as a result of a gift from someone else. I have never had so much fun, nor have I ever seen a person as beautiful as Molly that day- and it could never have happened without the people who helped us with our wedding.
Molly and I are not some sort of perfect couple (a concept that does not exist despite whatever the media says about Will and Kate). We have our problems, our chronic issues, and our never ending sources of arguments (dishes and Law School) and when faced with these difficulties we do our best to solve them (or ignore them). Perhaps writing this sort of thing is begging for the gods to do something horrible, but for right now I am happy and I can honestly say it is all due to Molly. It is admittedly dangerous to commit to just one person like this, to put all of ones emotional eggs in one basket so to speak, but it has so far been completely worth it. Molly has given me so much that I just pray that I have at least come somewhere near returning the favor. She took a chance at answering a phone call from a strange dude who ordered whiskey on pint night (don’t ask) and managed to help me fulfill almost every conceivable goal I could have had that day three years ago.
To Molly I just want to say that I love you. I hope that we have many more years together, and that we get to experience even more (KIDS!) as a couple, but for right now I just wanted to write about how I have felt during this, our first year as a married couple. Oh, and you are really pretty (inside joke).