By: Aspen Jordan – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
I’m engaged! TAKE THAT EVERY BUZZFEED QUIZ EVER. So natch, this post is going to be all about me. Since I have a dating blog, I’d like to say that my boyfriend proposed to me because I focused on cultivating a healthy, loving relationship, took care of myself so that I could be the best partner possible, and let love take its course. But I’m me, so here’s what I really did:
- Only moved in together after establishing explicitly that we were on the path towards marriage
- Emailed him the exact ring I wanted including material preferences and size (you can get sized at any jeweler)
- Texted him to make sure he got my email
- Mentioned getting engaged at least 6 times per week
- Sent him screenshots every time someone I knew got engaged
- Emailed him the ring details again, in case the first email was, like, too far back in his email or something
- Looked at the ring I wanted every day to keep my anxiety as high as possible
- Cried regularly about not being engaged
- Just straight up asked when he was planning to propose
- Arbitrarily decided he would propose on a random day he hadn’t even though of; picked a gigantic fight when he didn’t propose that day; hired a therapist
- Got engaged!
So there you have it: 11 foolproof steps to either an engagement or a really abrupt breakup.
Anyways, today’s post is a special one, dedicated to my new fiance!
Last year I listened to a lot of the Modern Love podcast. In one episode, the writer revealed that she had written her essay in about an hour. So I was like: Bitch, I can write a NYT-quality essay in an hour! I couldn’t. They rejected my essay. Maybe because I’m not a professional writer? I guess that’s that blogs are for! Without further ado, I bring you: A Rejected Modern Love Essay.
Someone Old, Someone New
My dad died at around 3:30 am on Monday, June 15th, 2015. I’m not exactly sure of the time because I wasn’t there. I had a ticket to fly home to Seattle later that morning, and in order to sleep through the night I had taken the teeniest nibble of a weed brownie. When my stepbrother called to tell me that dad was gone, I was compulsively counting the pillows on my bed. I knew what the call was, but I just couldn’t answer it. I managed to make my 9 am flight, and they had a spot open in first class, so I upgraded. I figured I deserved it.
I had spent the previous week laying in bed next to him, watching HGTV while his head lolled and his eyes fluttered. Each hour I would put a straw to his lips, pleading with him to drink, as he nibbled, confused, on the tip of it. This may sound morbid, but long before dad ever got sick, I knew I would lose him early. I inherited a smidgen of his deep intuition, and I remember being a little girl, begging him to not eat too much salt because I wanted him to give me away at my wedding.
He had been diagnosed with cancer 4 years before. At the time he seemed as healthy as ever. He didn’t tell me he had been given six months to live. Instead, he said, “Honey baby, I really need you to go to New York.” So, as planned, I did move to New York. For 4 months. I moved back for his first round of chemo, and worked part time as a waitress so I could go with him to treatment.
During our many hours at the Cancer Center I taught myself to knit and ate the vanilla sandwich cookies they stock for the patients. He lost his sense of taste, vomited a lot, and lost his hair, which – once black and densely curly – grew back like the soft white down of a baby bird. I bounced back and forth between the coasts after that, and ultimately ended up in San Francisco to be close-but-not-too-close to home.
A month before he died, he flew down to California to see me perform, and to meet my new boyfriend. Dan and I had met at work that spring, me the nubile receptionist and him the strapping young analyst. It was all very Jim-and-Pam. Before we started dating, I knew that Dan had lost his mom to cancer a handful of years previously, which gave us something profound to discuss over flat beer at work-sponsored happy hours. I found him gentle, wise, and playful – just like my dad. On our first date we tried to go hiking. We got lost and, while trying to navigate the Marin headlands with our iPhones, admitted to each other that…well, we both hate hiking. We ran down the mountain and drove to Tiburon for pizza and beer.
We had the DTR talk very early. Being co-workers, we both agreed that we should assess the state of the relationship openly, and if it wasn’t going to be real we would end it right there. We never did. I met his friends, he met mine. And when my dad came to town I was so excited to have them meet, but my excitement was allayed when I arrived at the airport to see my dad wheelchair-bound, ashen, and frail. At the first opportunity, I called Dan in hysterics,
“He’s dying!” I wailed, as I left my dad’s AirBnB to pick up lunch, “I just know he’s dying, and no one told me.”
“Don’t say that.” Dan cooed. “I’ll be there soon.” Dan came and sat with us in the tiny, windowless, basement apartment. He wheeled my dad to dinner, and answered all of the embarrassing questions that dads ask new boyfriends. He touched my hand whenever my dad moaned in pain. And he walked me home after we said goodnight to my dad and stepmom, and held me while I cried on the front steps of my apartment. The next day, when I asked my dad what he thought of Dan, he nodded and said,
“He’s so…normal.” This may not sound like a compliment, but in light of my romantic history it definitely, definitely was.
When Dad died, Dan flew to Seattle for the funeral. The US Open was happening in Tacoma on the same weekend, and I’m not sure how much he paid for his ticket, but I was sure he loved me when he bought it. And he told me so, for the first time, the night he arrived while we laid in the dark. The next day, we ran around together buying ice, sandwiches, and donuts for the church reception. He met my entire family and then some – mother, half brother and sister, stepmother, step brothersand sister, cousins, aunts, uncles, my dad’s best friends, my childhood friends, even my dad’s first wife.
He occupied himself when I was busy, and appeared at my side when I was alone. He smiled for pictures and kissed my ears when I started to tear up. He even pinned a little “Captain Brad” badge to his suit jacket – a gift from one of my dad’s coworkers. He was, in a word, perfect. And for the weeks and months after, when I would burst into tears for no apparent reason, or call him just to explain to him why I missed my dad at that exact moment, he continued to be perfect. He’s the only man I’ve ever known who could offer me that amount of patience, grace, and selflessness.
The same, mystical way I knew that my dad wouldn’t be around for very long, I know that he would do anything to take care of me. Being on different spiritual planes is really no match for the relationship that he and I have. And I truly believe, in my heart, that he sent Dan to me. Who better to have by my side than a thoughtful, generous, kind, partner who knows the way through this exact storm?
So, it turns out that my dad did manage to give me away – it just doesn’t look like I thought it would. There’s no request for permission, no father-daughter dance, no walk down the aisle. Those things are lost. But the way I see it, he left me in Dan’s hands knowing that I would be handled with the utmost care. And that’s the only blessing I need.
Aspen Jordan is a Seattle native living in New York by way of Buenos Aires, Chicago, London, and San Francisco. I’m passionate about mental health, self care, and social justice, and I’m currently working towards a career in wellness & love coaching.
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