After a long, drawn out conversation, some tears, some fighting words, some debating and some pleading on both parts, Billy and I finally agreed to get married in fourteen years. It was a compromise between our two very different views on the subject: Me, wanting to get married STAT, and him wanting to get married never. He chose the time frame, not me. I don't know that he based it on anything specific, only that it seemed to be pretty fair middle ground between "Now" and "Never."
Since our agreement, since the day he sighed, slouched in defeat and said, "If it will make you happy, we can get married...In fourteen years," things on the marriage front have been quiet. I know it's going to happen, and I know I needn't bother myself with questions of when or how he will propose until roughly 12 and half years from now. It relaxed my tightly-wound neuroses of "he loves me, he loves me not," knowing that a man who never bends went ahead and got flexible enough to keep our relationship alive. It's all about compromise. I give up being a young bride, he gives up indefinite bachelorhood. It's fair.
It also makes discussing the future easier. I feared that, in finding yet another man who never wanted to enter a state of Holy Matrimony, I gave up the ability to wish, out loud, for my wedding. To be called a missus. To use "When we get married" in conversation. But now that it's out there, now that an agreement has been reached, I can use it whenever I want.
"Thirteen and a half years left!" I say whenever the subject of marriage comes up. He rolls his eyes and laughs, then does the math in his head.
"I believe it's thirteen years and EIGHT MONTHS," he'll say in a know-it-all-voice. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves." And then he laughs and kisses my forehead and I feel at ease. I know where we're headed, and how long it's going to take to get there. He may never have been on the freeway of love this long, but damnit if he hasn't gone ahead and put it on cruise control. Because we ain't stoppin. Whether he likes it or not.
Yet the time remaining until our nuptials is always up for debate. It's a constant source of mock-debate and mock-anger, the perfect segue into a wrasslin' match that finds us worn out after too much time trying to pin each other down while giggling profusely. And, while I'm satisfied with where we are and where we're going, I still like to bring it up. And I'll always say the time remaining is a little shorter than it is, he'll maintain it's a bit longer. It's become a little joke between us, the constant disparity between his timeline and mine.
And so, to settle any dispute, I found a countdown clock online that could be customized to whatever date, whatever event you wish. While Billy sat in the living room watching some bird documentary, I went ahead and made a little countdown clock of my own. Big bold letters on a bright pink background read "You are cordially invited to the wedding of Laurie and Billy in..." And below that title, time ticked away. Five thousand days, fourteen hours, thirty-two minutes and 10, 9, 8, 7... seconds until we were pronounced Man and Wife. I laughed diabolically as I created it, pleased with myself and how hilarious it was.
"Biiiillllyyyy," I sang through the house. "Cooomeee hheeeeerreee..."
And, oblivious to what I was doing on the computer, he lumbered into the room and sat down next to me. "Look!" I commanded, smiling from ear to ear.
He started to look a little pale as he took it in, then looked at me with are you serious knitted into his eyebrows. I kept giggling. "Isn't it wonderful?" I said, bringing my clasped hands up to the side of my titled face, my tone and demeanor hyper-romantic and dreamy, like a character from some 1950s romance movie.
"Five thousand days?" He said, shaking his head. He sucked in air through his teeth. "That's pretty close. We'd better push it back."
I stopped laughing, and gave him my pseudo-angry face. He laughed at my reaction, and I resumed laughing to myself as he meandered back into the living room to continue his television watching.
My giggles slowed to a stop as I closed out the page and, with it, the countdown to our wedding.
A few days later, getting ready for work together, we were listening to a radio show in which the DJs were discussing people who date forever and then get married, and how those marriages never work because, and I quote, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Billy shot me a knowing look, and I shot him back a "Whatever. Don't think these douchebags are going to convince me that we shouldn't get married. You have to come up with something better than that" look.
While he brushed his teeth, the DJs took a call from a man who declared that he proposed to his wife after ten years only because he felt pressured; that he wouldn't have gotten married if not for her constant pressure. So he broke down and did it. Against his will.
I looked at Billy in the mirror, under the wand I was using to apply mascara. "I don't pressure you," I said matter-of-factly. I finished my mascara application and screwed the tube closed. "You're lucky."
He spit his toothpaste into the sink and looked at me, a look of shock and disgust on his face. "Countdown clock," was all he said.
I laughed as I tossed all of my makeup into its bag. "That was a joke, not pressure. If it were pressure, I'd have made it so that it popped up every time you turned on the computer or something. But I didn't. I just made it, showed you, and deleted it. See? I'm awesome."
"Riiight," he said, eyeing me suspiciously.
"Oh trust me, babe. Make no mistake, when I start pressuring you, you'll know it. You've got about 4,000 days until I really kick it into high gear."
I think he started to argue, but he passed out. All that marriage talk was just too much for him.
But, no matter. He's got five thousand days to get used to the idea.