I was reflecting last night while I was on the way to a Simpson's Trivia event. I was thinking about my early 20s. The first thing I thought of was, Wow, I had no responsibilities. And that's not even entirely true. I had to go to work, pay my bills and provide for my cats. And it's not as though now I'm overloaded, not at all.
But I really was freer then. I didn't have any long-term goals to save for, so I spent what I made, which wasn't much. I left town for the weekend rather often compared to now. I travelled more frequently. I checked in with nobody and had only myself and my own needs to consider.
And it's not as though I'm overly burdened now with obligations. I tried to think of how my life was different now at 28 than it was when I was 23. The biggest difference I guess was that I was newly single then and hung out a lot with my girlfriends and we'd have drinks. I was also living alone and right downtown.
But fundamentally, the biggest difference is the Dude. We live together in such as way now that there are aspects of my life I no longer even think about because he takes care of them. On the other side of the coin, there are areas of concern (for two) that now fall entirely on me. We've developed a reliance on each other to make our lives function properly. If one of us is remiss, our quality of life goes down.
And not long ago I was hit by the magnitude of that attachment and what getting married means. It will mean that we choose to take this mutual reliance on each other further, that we're going to be a joint unit in life, that our lives no longer belong exclusively to us as individuals, but to each other.
My responsibilities haven't changed all that much except in this one major regard. I'm now taking on the responsibility of being a permanent partner in life to another person. I can no longer think about only myself again. And any investment of time or effort into the Dude's career on my part will become not resources taken from me, but resources put towards us. Our future will be tangibly linked.
As startling a personal revelation that was for me, and while it really made me think about the importance of this decision, I also felt good about it. Living together has taught me a lot, but thinking about actual marriage made me realize the two aren't the same, at least not to me.
I'm looking forward to cementing our relationship. We'll have been together around five years at that point. Absolutely wild.