That night I was going dancing with all my friends to celebrate my twenty-first birthday. I wore my gold cowboy boots and a new shirt I’d bought for the occasion, it was covered in sequins.
Months before that moment I’d had a dream about how it would happen. When I woke up the details were hazy, but I did remember that the box was completely covered in sequins. It seemed fitting, everything about me back then was flashy and sparkly. I was twenty and I mixed patterns and painted my nails three times a week. I was going to be a writer and buy expensive shoes and go dancing every Friday night. Of course the box holding my engagement ring would be covered in sequins, I wanted a life that demanded sequins.
When I opened my eyes and saw Tom down on one knee holding a ring box covered in sequins, I knew. I knew we were going to have that life I’d always imagined. I knew that everything might not always be perfect, but we were going to be happy.
I spent the majority of that night fighting with a friend and crying in various public bathrooms.
The next morning my future father-in-law sat down with Tom and I to tell us we hadn’t thought our future through and he could not support our decision.
My blissful optimism was fading fast. I spent my entire engagement alienated from my best friend and refusing to be in the same room as my future in-laws. I spent months refusing to plan the wedding, booked a house in Savannah so we could just elope, and spent a lot of late nights questioning whether we should even be getting married. That year was hard. Every day I was walking closer and closer to making the biggest commitment of my life. All the while chaos and discord swirled around me so furiously that I couldn’t see anything clearly. None of it was playing out the way I’d been led to believe it would. We fought often, there was a chunk of time I thought my in-laws might not even attend the wedding, and we were planning to move three states away and didn’t have jobs. Nothing was shiny and fun, it was all just hard.
Still, fourteen months after that night with a sequined ring box and bathroom stall tears, I slipped on a dress covered entirely with gold sequins and held hands with Tom as friends and family took turns giving toasts at our rehearsal dinner. I sat surrounded by all the people who had made my engagement painful and all the people who had held my hand and wiped away my tears through it all. I sat hand in hand with the person who had done a little of both. That night I knew that not only would things not always be easy, but we wouldn’t always be happy. That night I also knew that despite it all, I didn’t have to change–that no matter what life looked like, I could still be the kind of person that always made room for sequins.