I wish I could just go back to that time and that place and tell her.
I was there, in the University Center, near the Taco Bell, trying to convince her that she had to eat at least most of the snack-sized bag of Baked Lays before she could drive the 4 hours to stay at her parents’ house for the weekend. We were sophomores in college. It was warm, but it was always warm, so I don’t even know what season it was.
Her hands were shaking. I think she was out of tears. I don’t remember what I said; I’d been through enough to know that it didn’t really matter what I said.
It was the first time he broke up with her, but not the last. And she broke up with him, too. She’d call me, and I’d know what she wanted before she did: for me to tell her it was ok to not be sure.
And I want to go back to that time and that place so that I can tell her that it will all turn out ok. That we’ll go to dinner, the two of them, me, and a boy she’ll meet a few times but barely remember. That she’ll call me an hour or so later to tell me that he asked her to marry him.
That the night before the wedding, she’ll be back in that bed at her parents’, and she’ll cry, but not because she’s sad. The ceremony will be beautiful. I’ll be a bridesmaid; I never had to worry about what kind of dress she’d choose. She’ll have the perfect dress, the most amazing veil. That it’s going to take a while, but that they’ll end up together.
And that I’ll tear up listening to her dad’s speech at the reception, because I’ll be thinking about this, the things I wish I could have said to her that afternoon seven years ago. I wish I could tell her that the things we want aren’t always the things we need. That sometimes it takes time. And sometimes, even when everything else is right, we have to grow toward our person, grow into him, then around him, until we know for sure. Until there’s no more doubt.
Best wishes, kids.