Expectations are a bitch.
And I can be a terrible girlfriend.
These two facts have become increasingly and more obviously linked for the past several years. On paper I think I am an awesome person all around. I have been described by others as resourceful, smart, creative, optimistic, adventurous, confident(?!), loving, patient, and turbo cute (cute lasts longer). I genuinely love beer, am inexplicably good at poker and sex, give great advice, and I can uphold intelligent conversation about any number of masculine subjects. I might even beat you at video games. Until recently, however, I SUCKED at being a girlfriend.
I have been known to:
-criticize the way you eat, do dishes or chop garlic.
-correct your grammar.
-openly mock your taste in music or lack thereof.
-be uncharacteristically clingy and demand you spoon me 4-5 times per night.
-be the very definition of a nag, whilst procrastinating just as badly as you.
-be weirdly anal about decorative hand towels.
Now nobody is perfect, but eventually you learn that most of the reasons you suck at being in an unconditionally loving relationship are a product of one thing. Deep-seeded expectations. Letting go of those is not easy, but it means being able to love someone for exactly who they are. Now, try doing that whilst both party’s daddy issues, childhood projections, past relationship baggage, vices, bad habits, and/or unwavering music taste are repeatedly colliding together in an enclosed space. It’s just not easy. It takes practice (and for some, therapy) but you do get better at it. But the most fortunate side effect of finding the right person to love is that it forces you to be more lovable. And after having had some of my most compulsive and trifling expectations systematically exploded by previous boyfriends, I think I was primed to love me some Ryan Flynn.
That is, as ready as a girl could be to meet a dinosaur.
I should explain.
Ryan is a living, breathing, farting phenomenon. He has an anatomically-correct T. Rex tattoo emblazoned across his chest and he doesn’t even know who Marc Bolan is. He is brilliant, obsessed with science, and likes to be called The Dinosaur. That said, he doesn’t really know any obscure dinosaur facts, but if you ask he will describe the universe to you in a such a way that proves our observable reality Beauty enough.
Ryan doesn’t so much “listen” to music as conquer every instrument he encounters like a force of nature. Impossibly talented, he can compose an I-dare-you-not-to-twerk gay dance anthem whilst growing the sexiest beard in the land. He makes the most fiercely loyal and honest friend, even though his dimples alone could negotiate their way out of a Thai prison. He is so face-blind that he can’t recognize an Elvis or JFK photo out of context, but he recently pointed out Sir Richard Dawkins at a hip Silverlake taco joint (granted, it was named “Diablo”). He can and will tell an hilarious pedophilia joke to your parents with a straight face, but instantly blushes if he’s ever forced to dance. Not at all what my 15 y/o naively mormon, matrimony-obsessed self was expecting, but it does help that I am now an atheist whose knees get wobbly at the sight of a well-farmed beard.
One random, rainy May morning by a lush green pond at the bottom of a valley on my family’s farm, he proposed. I would have had a resounding YES poised on my tongue like an olympic diver if it wasn’t the timidest thing I’d ever heard him say. “I was wondering if I could ask you to marry me.”
Instead I said, “Of course you could ask me!” I thought we were still being theoretical because there were no helicopters or pyrotechnics, the water was too low for a canoe, I was wearing muddy pajama bottoms, and still had morning breath.
He knows how much I love surprises.
Of course I said yes. We balance each other. Ryan is crazy skilled at everything I suck at, and I am getting better at not sucking at everything. He has probably already done all the crap I procrastinate on and I keep him healthy and organized. Together, we are unstoppable. So eventually we adapted to the lack of shared music taste (headphones! miracles!) and I got better at not being a total cunt. After some practice fights, we figured out that we could be each others’ one-and-every and still be good at life, so it was time to choose a ring. Ryan’s only request was that it be a diamond.
See now, I love refracted light as much as the next person, but tiny overworked chunks of compacted carbon generously doused in colonialism and blood and then marketed by a bunch of corporate Hallmark dickholes as the only way to prove one’s everlasting love are just not my thing, never have been. I wanted to love this object for its color, depth, and imperfections just like Ryan Flynn loves me for mine.
So we bought this fruity little pebble of petrified deep because it’s the only one like it. Because it’s weird, like us. Because it hasn’t been forced to be something it’s not. Because diamonds are the hardest form of carbon, just like Ryan Flynn. In that way, sure, but also in the way that he has been my rock through a couple of the hardest years of my life. I wanted to be reminded that this thing will outlast all of us.
Enter Jennifer Will of JW Metal Arts. Her minimal yet unapologetic designs killed all my expectations. We both fell in love with the color and shape of the stone -it’s a diamond, it is what it is- and started sending each other sonnets about our dreams and wishes for this oddly shaped gem. But to pull this crunchy lil nugget straight from the dirt and force it into some intricate art nouveau setting would be apologizing for it’s true nature. I wanted it to be itself! To shine like a Ryan in the rough. Rose gold to complement its stormy blue and clean lines to play up its awkwardness. She mocked up a few different designs for us, got to work and voila!
I would have Jennifer design my tattoo. She has an amazing eye and took my every bridezilla moment in stride. My engagement ring is a translucent shard of ocean caught in a molten copper orbit and it is now the most beautiful, chic, well-crafted object I own. The best part is that there is no other like it in the entire world and it was custom-designed for me.
Just like Ryan Flynn.
photos by Isaac Trumbo