August 16, 2011 will mark fourteen years that I have been married to the same person. Shocking, really, since most days I still feel like a stupid 19-year-old. Add the four years that we knew each other before we were married and it’s been almost TWENTY YEARS that my wife and I have been together. Wow. Never wrote that out before. 20 years.
In that time, we’ve lived in college dorms, in off campus (nearly condemned) housing, in a van, in various seedy motels, in an apartment across from a noisy fire station in Hollywood, in a third story, single bedroom apartment near Century City, in a two bedroom beach cottage rental in Manhattan Beach and most recently, in our house in Sherman Oaks. In that same time, we’ve also had three children, three dogs, eleven different cars and two AAA cards that say we’ve been members for 23 years. It feels like we’ve lived several lives in the years we’ve been living this one.
I got married at 25. People say 25 is too young to get married but I don’t think age has much to do with it. If you find the right person, you grab the ball and you run with it. Is that a good place for a sports analogy? Seems like it. Perhaps not. Anyway, I knew early that I found someone very special. “How did you know?” people that aren’t you ask me sometimes. “I got lucky,” I tell them. I tend to believe that most people don’t really want advice. It’s like giving people performance notes on their lives. Nobody wants to hear that maybe they’re chasing the wrong path or that they have mixed up priorities or that they might be trying to find an impossible ideal that doesn’t correlate to a person who will actually make them happy. Plus, advice from friends often sounds an awful lot like bragging.
“Yeah yeah yeah, Nickerson… but if you had to bottom line it for us…”
Really? But I just told you that advice is bulls**t. Seriously? All right, fine. Here’s how I knew I found the right person:
She made me happy. I missed her when we weren’t together. I loved her voice and her smile. I trusted her immediately. She made me feel safe. Neither of us ever pretended not to take it seriously or not call each other because it might be too soon or second guessed our connection. We liked each other’s friends. I enjoyed making her laugh. She made me laugh. We both hated the same stupid things. She was not the person I had always dreamed of; she was much more. I thought about her all the time. She’s beautiful. Most of all, I really liked being around her. I still do.
Happiness is simple, I think. Stay around the people who make you happy, get away from the people who make you feel sad or make you feel small or make you feel inferior.
It may be that if you’re trying too hard to make the wrong person into the right person, you’re wasting your time. Be honest with yourself about what makes you happy and then live a life that puts you around people who support that or embody it.
See? Advice always sounds like some smug a**hole telling you what to do.
Anyway, you asked. Wait, didn’t you? No, you didn’t. Touché.
One thing I know for certain: If you do find that perfect person, hang on. Don’t blow it. And someday, when someone asks you for advice on how you did it, tell them most advice is a stupid waste of time.
Then, go home and hug your beautiful wife of 14 years and thank her for being the exact right one for this whole entire time.