This summer, according to Instagram, every single twenty-eight-year-old girl got married. Except for me—and a few of my single girlfriends. “I thought I’d be married at twenty-two,” one of my friends lamented to me the other day on the phone. “And have at least three children by twenty-eight.”
Yes, I thought. We all did, didn’t we?
That was back when we were ten and twenty-two seemed like several lifetimes away (or at least after a shit ton of summer breaks and Christmases).
Now, I can’t imagine having gotten married at twenty-two. I think of how different I am from my ten-year-old self. And how different I am from who I was when I was in my early twenties. The older I’ve gotten, the more cultures I’ve visited and people I’ve met, the more my mind has expanded, and with that, my philosophies on life have changed. I’m the same in many ways too. I still love Christmas and writing books. I still have a dream of one day living on a marsh in the South. I still love love stories. But had I gotten married that young, I’m not sure the person I would have fallen for would still be my “most compatible person” or even “get me” now. And yet I love the idea of being with someone forever. Of sharing your life. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world when it does work out.
As this wedding season comes to an end, it’s gotten me thinking about everlasting love. It’s a subject I explore in my second novel, Map of Us, (coming next year!) and something that I’ve talked a lot about with married and single friends alike.
What I Wore Last Week to My Charleston Roommate’s Wedding
Without giving away the conclusion to the book and all the thoughts on this subject that I explore there, I had a thought the other day related to the subject.
The truth is statistically most loves don’t last. (Which is okay, I personally think, too. People come into our lives at different times for all sorts of reasons. How long we love someone doesn’t take away from the love that was shared). And yet, despite this statistic, the majority of people are still get married.
In most areas of our lives we don’t think we will beat the odds. For example I wouldn’t gamble my life savings on 50% odds that I’d win a coin toss. (And definitely not if I knew my odds of winning were only 28% in Orange County!) But I went to a ton of weddings this summer. Most people seem to be willing to take this risk for a shot at a lifetime of love.
I think that says something rather beautiful—about the world and about us. I think it says that when it comes to matters of the heart, as a society we are still risk-takers.
I do think the divorce rate has changed people’s dating behaviors. People seem to be making safer choices when it comes to who they settle down with. Not everyone, of course. But there seems to be an intense focus on practicality that I’m not sure was there when people were getting married younger. Fear of “failure” can influence who we end up with. Broken hearts can too.
But regardless, this wedding season reminded me that as a society we are still believers in going the distance. We still seem to have hope, even if it’s just for that moment that we get up there on the altar and exchange vows, that love can last a lifetime. That we believe the seemingly impossible is entirely possible, for us.