It was easier, twenty years ago. This whole dating process was simpler although perhaps more dramatic.
It was enough, then, to know that he occasionally attended church. Now, I want to know which church, what beliefs, how strong is his faith, does he pray. It was enough then to know he wanted children - someday. Now I see him with his kids. I am witness to his parenting. I can see how it differs from my own.
It was enough, back then, to know he had career ambitions. Still working on his degree, his idea of a job was something that earned pizza and beer money. Now I want to know what has he been doing with his knowledge, where is he headed in his career aspirations. Has he planned for retirement?
It was enough, then, to hang out at all hours. To get together at 2 am for a donut run at Five Points. To eat a week's worth of calories in one stop at Whitey's Ice Cream. To be up all night playing Euchre, or sitting in the lounge watching late night TV. Now I'm accustomed to my own time, my own space. I have my own habits and desires. I want time to get ready and then time to be on my own. I want time together but balanced, measured. I still want my life. Apart.
It was enough then to not know who we would become. To sit in the hamster wheel at the park across the street and talk philosophically about the future. To know that we would grow and change and to simply believe it would always happen together. To not know what challenges the future would bring, what obstacles would be placed in our path. We were naive, and that was just fine. Now, we can see the battle scars. The fears from our past are tangible and present. We have become the people we only wondered about twenty years ago. For better and for worse and now we must face our own identities, our own shortcomings, our own disappointments as well as our successes.
It would seem an advantage now, to know who he is now, to see his career, his balance with family, his parenting. It would seem to answer all the What If questions from back then. But it doesn't feel like an advantage. It feels like too much data. It is more difficult to know what information belongs on the scale and what doesn't matter.
It is more difficult now, to know what is enough.
I feel in love with a man I barely knew 20 years ago, a man who barely even knew himself back then. When neither of us could have foreseen the future or our departure from each other. Now, love isn't so easy, so straightforward, so basic. Now, love doesn't feel so much like a blind fall, it feels like gradual steps, taken cautiously, carefully, with eyes wide open and hearts zealously guarded.