Six months ago, I was the cover of the "liberal-arts-educated-chick-from-the-burbs" textbook: 25 (not 26), gainfully employed and living a blissful routine of guaranteed sex and companionship with my attractive, supportive and employed boyfriend of five years. (And our dog. White with black spots.) I cooked, he cleaned. Sunday nights we watched reality TV in our underwear. On special occasions, he could have it anally.
Then, as the 6 year mark approached, I began doing what generations of women have made a fine art: dropping hints about marriage.
But I am not an artist. "Hints" devolved into billboards with the words “ARE YOU EVER GOING TO FUCKING MARRY ME, DUDE?” scrawled in 50-foot Helvetica font on the sides of buildings. (That's an exaggeration. But I did get wasted off Stoli and bitch in a cab from the Upper East Side aaaallllllll the way to Astoria--in front of my boyfriend, our friends and a Pakistani cabbie--about how he hadn't proposed. NOTE: This is one of the three instances in which a man is actually allowed to murder a woman in the back of a cab. We'll talk about the other two another time.)
It became an obsession. Would he? When? Where? How would he do it? What if he picked out an ugly-as-sin ring? I’d say yes, but was it appropriate to melt it down...? GOD, what if it was pear-cut?
Then, the bomb dropped: Alex, as we’ll call him, WAS going to propose. According to the mole who leaked the news, soon.
I freaked the fuck out.
Not in a jumping up and down with your sorority sisters kind of way. More a I-packed-my-shit-up-emptied-my-bank-account-and-subletted-a-room-from-a-gay-man-in-Brooklyn kind of freak out.
Well, not “kind of.” That’s actually what I did. Literally.
"This girl’s a fucking nutjob.” “Bipolar." "That dude’s better off.” Yes, I can hear your interior monologue from Brooklyn (the acoustics off the bridge are ah-mazing). I get it. Respectable, sympathetic girls don't do things like that to hot, supportive, amazing guys who love their crazy asses.
But staring down the barrel of marriage, it clicked: I’ve never been on my own. I always came home to parents or the live-in boyfriend, never walked into a party or social event without the bullet-proof vest of my partner layered over my party-gear and never learned to be the confident, self-reliant, worldly woman with cool stories to tell.
Worse, I’d become the sort of grating, obnoxious, smothering girlfriend who guys and girls alike wish to kill with their bare hands...one that turns into the sort of grating, obnoxious, smothering wife some guys DO kill with their bare hands. Lump in the fact I suddenly questioned whether this guy was THE ONE, since I’d never really taken the time to talk to anyone else, and the whole humiliating hot-mess puzzle should assemble itself pretty easily. (Alex had his own issues to deal with as well.)
Which brings us to THE LIST:
Ammendment: The Hitch List fully recognizes that marriage does not equate death. If you're with the right person, most of your life adventures should continue, only with double the cost of airfare. But if you've a history of codependency (check) and/or limited experience with personal independence (double check), Hitch Listing might be one way to reboot....and make sure you're not a clingy nightmare when you find your soul mate.
Things To Do Before You Marry, or The Hitch List:
(last updated on September 18, 2009)
1. Learn to comfortably fly solo.
2. Conquer lingering, irrational childhood fears (dark, fucking scary spiders, etc.).
3. Go on week long "Help Me" Detox--no asking for help from anyone, for anything. (This pertains to help carrying laundry from the laundromat, reaching items at the grocery store, holding subway doors, killing fucking scary spiders, etc., as well as to the obvious areas of financial, emotional and social assistance.)
4. Get lost in a major city alone. Find your way home.
5. Do something that scares the shit out of you.
6. Do something that scares the shit out of someone else.
7. Sleep in the WHOLE bed.
8. Go on an epic road trip. Must visit minimum of three places you've never heard of before Google mapping.
9. Start selfish, indulgent lifelong habit.
10. Get involved in doing ongoing good deeds for others.
12. Break one personal beauty law (i.e. no short hair, no red lipstick, no Lindsay Lohan leggings, etc).
13. Break up with the television, phone, Facebook and g-chat and live like an urban Emerson...temporarily, at least.
15. Go on a date with someone who is not your "type."
18. Revisit an old fling.
21. Go on a 100% lesbian date.
24. Learn a new language. Must be able to order food, ask for directions, give a compliment and give instructions on how to make you orgasm in chosen language within 6 weeks of starting.
25. Learn from the "other woman."
26. Relocate somewhere you've never lived and don't know anyone.
27. Create "Ethnic Sexcapades" Bingo Card (Italian, Irish, Puerto Rican, African American, Japanese, etc.). Compete with friends for first "Bingo." (Winner gets bragging rights and a free trip to the STD clinic.)
28. Take a midnight train going anywhere.
29. Be with someone older.
30. Be with someone younger.
32. Party with someone famous.
33. Smash out with someone famous (see 32 for assistance).
34. Play a player.
36. Visit the birthplace of your personal hero.
37. Read/view/listen to at least three of the books/films/albums an ex recommended but you never touched (who knows, they may have been right aboutsomething).
38. Spend a day in someone elses' shoes...literally, swap locations, jobs, friends and lifestyles for a day. See what you learn.
39. Build something from scratch utilizing three tools you have no idea how to use.
40. Try something you would "never" do in bed.
41. Be the star of your own nude photo shoot and learn to love your naked self. (Pictures for your eyes only.)
42. Start mixed martial arts and/or self defense classes.
43. Go on a vision quest with an experienced guide.
44. Travel somewhere exclusively for a famous local food item (must cross state lines). Philly cheese steaks, media noches in Cuba, Pad Thai in Thailand, etc.
45. Get arrested.
46. Experience a complete relationship in one weekend (meet, flirt, fall in lust, spend too much time together and breakup all over the course of a single weekend. Hard to do in small towns, but it happens all the time in NYC).
48. Experience parenthood temporarily with the assistance of friends/siblings/relatives who have small children.
49. Have a raucous ladies'/guys' night in a famous non-native party city.
50. Write your own eulogy.
53. Advocate and march for equal marriage rights. (Just because I'm not ready to marry doesn't mean EVERYONE else on the planet shouldn't be allowed to.)