When Renee called me to say she was engaged, I cried real fat tears. I mumbled incoherently something about happy and family and gratitude. I hung up the phone and wept some more in my car, big juicy happy-tears that would well up every time I thought about her giddy voice on the phone for the following 24-hours.
Renee was getting married! We were a year out of college, a year away from the room we shared that was consistently scattered with dirty dishes and pizza boxes, and now she prepared for a different, more permanent, roommate.
I was 22. Adulthood still seemed in my mind like a location farther away than the twelve-hour drive I was from home, and somehow, it seemed, Renee had arrived while I was still buckling my seatbelt.
You see, the message I got about my twenties, from tv shows and articles online, was that they were shiny glimmering years in which to do my Great Brave Things. It was the time to travel, to move to new cities, to date a flurry of unsatisfactory characters, to take terrible jobs, to become a regular at a bar where you could always afford to buy drinks in spite of your aforementioned terrible job, to celebrate your thirtieth birthday, and then, then it was time for marriage.
This seemed true from the highly scientific research I did watching Friends, Girls, and How I Met Your Mother, and from the highly ambitious plans I had for myself. I have done some of those things on my list. I’m on my second new city since college, I’ve traveled, and I live above a bar (that I cannot afford to always buy drinks at). What I hadn’t done though, before Renee got engaged, was realize what a Great Brave Thing it is to get married young.
In a few months my friend Renee who I grew up with in college, cried with, danced with, ate French fries with and sang show tunes with, will promise her life to someone that she loves. It is sometimes hard for me to commit to plans for tomorrow, but Renee is committing all of her tomorrows to her fiancé Mike.
There is bravery and beauty in this far bigger than committing to my two-years of grad school or my bold choice to get choppy bangs. In agreeing to marry Mike, she agrees to be with someone for the long haul, even when things get as messy as our room was in college. And she’s signed on for a life with not just someone she loves, but someone she likes, too. (Cue fat happy tears – even ten months later).
Marriage right now is not my Great Brave Thing, but it a most brave and most Great Thing for my friend Renee. And I know it’s not the end of her adventures as a twenty-something but a bold new beginning. As a married couple they’ll travel together, take on new jobs together, and keep on growing up together as they embark on the Greatest Brave Thing of all: marriage.