After nine years of dating, my boyfriend and I are getting married next year.
I stare at the little box on my wedding website that says “Our Story.” I look at other wedding websites and find cute tales of first dates and sentimental proposals and sweet platitudes. None of that feels true for me. My mind draws blank as I grasp for a place to begin.
“Everything I’ve tried to write for my wedding website ends up sounding fake or vanilla,” I told someone recently. “It’s just hard because we don’t really have a love story.”
I knew that sentence was a lie as soon as it left my lips.
Our love story started with a kiss on our friend’s wooden rickety porch in Champaign Illinois.
Our kiss wasn’t planned, but it also wasn’t entirely unexpected. He was 19 and I was 20, and we had been acquaintances for a few years. We were taking a road trip from Chicago to visit our friends at the University of Illinois for the weekend, we were both single, and somewhere along the way we started flirting in our friend’s car.
I had spent the previous few months feeling suffocated from all directions, trying to morph myself into the glue that would keep every person in my life suspended in orbit. The last thing I wanted was a boyfriend, but what would a kiss hurt?
“Wait — you don’t LIKE me, right?” he asked afterwards. He had learned from experience to cut off expectations early.
I laughed. Of course I didn’t like him. I didn’t even know him. What an arrogant thing for him to ask me.
But I would quickly get to know him.
Nine years is a long period of time to summarize in a blog post.
There were the first six years where we happily lived in separate cities and only saw each other a few weekends a month. (This actually worked really well for us.)
There were evenings where he chased my nephews around my parents’ dining room table for hours while squeals of hysterical laughter rang through the air.
There was a breakup over text message while I took a train to Indiana. There was getting back together a week later in a tearful conversation on the side of a different house in Champaign. There was another near-breakup five years later on a gravel prairie path in our hometown.
There was the cross-country move to Texas, followed by our first year of living together in Austin. We spent too much time together at first because we didn’t know what else to do.
There was the stray grey kitten he searched for outside during a thunderstorm because he didn’t know how she would survive in the rain. He had already named her Patches. She would nuzzle her way into our family on the night Donald Trump was elected.
There were adobe buildings and Eiffel Towers and salsa dancing in Costa Rica and paying higher rental car fees because it didn’t occur to us to just lie and say we were married.
There was being repeatedly asked “When is he going to propose?” and “How do you know he loves you?” and “Aren’t you jealous when other people get married?” and “Don’t you deserve someone who will commit to you?”
(I used to explain that neither of us cared about having a wedding. That moving across the country and sharing a cat, lease, and health insurance was a pretty big commitment.
Mark was never asked these questions. Always and only me. Eventually I stopped explaining.)
There were the deaths of people we loved. There was him taking my little sister to their favorite frozen custard place when her world fell apart. There were moments of him falling asleep with our cat snuggled against his chest, purring them both into oblivion.
There was me pacing around our apartment on New Year’s Day 2019, thinking out loud, figuring out a vision for the year ahead.
I’m almost 30. Do we want to try to have a baby soon? How long do we want to live in Austin? What do we want our lives to look like?
“I mean, I think we should get married before we have kids,” he chimed in with the same nonchalance as someone commenting on the weather.
The look on my face must have been incredulous. Wait.. married? Us?
I heard the shuffling of feet in a neighboring apartment. The hum of tropical cicadas outside burned louder. My peaceful and wedding-less life disappeared.
“After all this time,” I told him, “we’re going to need a better engagement story than this.”
Once I let go of the pressure to write a palatable and vanilla story for my wedding website, our real love story clicked into place.
I don’t want to smooth over the edges. I don’t want an airbrushed filter. I don’t need a better engagement story than this.
Our story is ours to cherish and hold up to the light. It’s ours to dissect and laugh about and honor and embrace. I love the life we have created. I don’t want to nip or tuck a thing.
May we make peace with our stories and let them be seen in the cracked light of how they really are. Not how we wanted them to be, not how Instagram told us they should be, but how they are. Holy and sacred. Vibrant and alive.
And worthy of being shared – even on our wedding websites. Which is exactly where I will be posting these words next 😊
Peace & Romance,
Kelsey Horton is an author, creativity coach, and highly-Capricorn cat mom who loves helping heart-centered humans write books and bring their creative projects to life.
Download her free Imposter Syndrome Survival Guide and check out her creative writing self-help book Robot Coconut Trees: Break Through Writer’s Block, Unleash Your Creative Voice, and Become the Writer You Already Are.