All Cards on the Table
When land in San Francisco, my head still in the clouds as we rush to my parents to tell them of our engagement. One of the few times over this next year that I actually express my wants: to tell my parents before his.
"Are you sure?" My father asks in the kitchen as he and I wash dishes.
Stella and mom are excitedly grilling Tommy for all the details. Tommy suggested that my father and I have some alone time.
“Be prepared that not everyone is going to be as thrilled as we are. And when they point out that we have only known each other for a short period of time, tell them that when you know, you know. Nothing else matters. At least it doesn’t to me. Does it to you?” I let Tommy coach me on how to handle telling everyone.
In fact, now I realize that I have given Tommy the reign in every aspect of our life together. Maybe a part of me is so ready for a break. Working in my dad's bar since I could see over the bar and add well enough to handle the register, trying always to help ease the load, Tommy makes life easy for me. Not realizing the trade off, I give into the ease of allowing someone to take care of me.
“I know we are young dad, but you said it yourself; when you know, you know.” Did dad say this to me or is this the coaching of Tommy?
“I don’t argue that. It is very obvious that Tommy is madly in love with you, why wouldn’t he be? You are one of my three favorite women!” Dad flicks a bit of soap suds at me to lighten up the potentially intense direction this conversation can lead to. “I just think there is so much to be explored, worldly and within yourselves. I have watched you continually ‘do the right thing’. I was hoping that after college you would take the time to be selfish a bit.”
“Going to Hawaii is pretty selfish.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I know dad, and Tommy and I have discussed this. We will do our darnedest to keep on track. Keep our lives more light and airy so that we can enjoy the sides of us we discovered this past week.”
“What about New York City and your dreams of living outside of all that is too familiar to you?”
“We are still talking it out. But I think I can give this old town of mine another year. Plus we have the wedding to plan so there is no real reason to move, only to return for our wedding. It will be easier to plan here. Tommy will take a year to learn his father’s business, then we can discuss if he wants to keep working for his dad or a hedge fund in New York.”
“So you haven’t discussed moving?”
“Not really. I mean in Kauaʻi we discussed all the options of places we could see us living. But we both feel that we should leave it all open for now.”
“That’s not discussing your dream of working and living in the city of your dreams. I remember how excitedly you would rant on and on about moving to New York City after you and your mom finished watching Working Girl. Which only escalated after your internship last summer. I just want you to know that you don’t have to rush into marriage. The two of you can go to New York City; last I checked Wall Street is there.”
“It’s not just Tommy that wants to get married, I have never felt this way about anyone. We are so happy and I want to marry him.”
“And you can, in a few years. Look Valley-girl, you are my daughter and it’s my job to advise you the best I can. With that being said, you have made my life easy because there has been no decision that you have made that even seems fast or careless.”
“This isn’t careless.”
“I know that, but it is fast. You both haven't lived in the real world together yet, it’s very different from dating in college, when you don’t have to work or worry about anything other than getting past the next final.”
“Trust me dad, I know what a hard working couple looks like.” I span my arm to make my point. “Tommy promises that we will make both our dreams achievable.”
“Yeah, I remember promising your mom that she can perform as long as her heart desires. And not that she nor I are disappointed in our lives, we are fortunate to have two of the best daughters any parent can ask for. But it all comes with a price. For your mom, it was her dream of being a performer. There is not a day that goes by that I hate myself for taking that away from her." This is the first time my dad has owned his part in destroying my mom's dream. I know I owned my part a long time ago and I know she blames neither of us but I see her pain. "You said it yourself, his parents are old school and have a funny hold on him. I am just worried that you both living in their house will mean obligations to their identity and a loss of yours.”
“I hear you dad, and I always listen to all of your advice. There are no guarantees in life, but one thing for certain, I love this man and he loves me. And he has proven several times that he is there for me and wants my happiness more than his own at times. And we are going to look for an apartment right after graduation.”
“I hope so because I love you and want nothing but the best for you.”
“Of course you do, you have to, you’re my dad. But you also have to know that you can’t shelter me forever. Life is full of ups and downs and it’s never going to be perfect.”
“I am old and sometimes I am wise, so please just know that whenever you have any doubts or second guess this whole thing, come to me.”
“I won't have any doubts, but if I do, I promise to come to you.”
What I didn’t expect was that I would be looking to my dad for advice so soon. I could tell by the way my mom looked at my father as he and I re-entered the room that she shares his sentiments. Stella is just happy that all concerns are off of her for once. Tommy and I both know that no one will be okay with this. If we were on the other end of such news of anyone we know, we would probably try to talk them out of it as well.
“Stick to the plan as we tell everyone else.” Tommy says when we head to my place.
After the reaction of my parents, we decide that I should tell my friends on my own and he his. The only people we will hold off on telling are his parents. They will be the hardest to deal with. Tommy is planning on laying the foundation for the conversation. This way he can gauge or plan for battle.
Once my bags are in my bedroom, I realize I need to talk to Tommy about New York. Now that it looks like we may be sticking around here, I don’t have to tell him. But if we are going to get married, I want to tell him.
“Tommy, before you go, we really need to talk about that one thing that keeps alluding our conversations. It’s about New York.”
“I told you baby, I hear you when you say it’s your goal to get there, and we will, after we are married.”
“It’s not that. I have been trying to figure out a way to tell you about why I wanted to go alone.”
Tommy’s face moves from one reaction to another as I tell him about my internship last summer. The pain on his face when I confess I wasn't ready to share New York City with anyone and most of all, Nate. But I reassured him that I was not going back to figure out Nate and I. I didn’t tell him that Nate did that for me.
“It’s more that I really wanted to be there for Nate because he was such a great friend to me this past summer. You should be thankful, it’s all the socializing he forced me to do that built my self confidence and made me even willing to loosen my control on how my senior year was going to be. He lost his mom. I should have been there. But I knew this, you and me, was just as important.”
Tommy just looks at me. His face is blank. He can’t be mad, this is not nearly as bad as the incident with Brittany. We also promised to learn to be more forgiving towards one another.
“Thank you for telling me.” Distant and cold but at least talking.
“I love you, Tommy.”
“I love you too.” Then he gets up and leaves.
I can feel the anger, what a hypocrite. But because I only told him the truth as it stands today, guilt is stronger.
"With partnerships, it's not about wrong or right," I can hear my dad in my head, "it's about the love being strong enough to set everything right again."
Giving Tommy space will help him think things through and he will empathize with me. He is the one that keeps saying that we both had lives before this. Then why do I feel like a need a shower?