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I had my wedding sketched out in graphic detail when I was young, but wasn't something I shared with the other girls. I'd wear a plain white dress without lace, and a veil held in place with a simple band, and hold daisies, not roses. My mother's jewelry would grace my throat, but not my ears. He would wear black. My step-father would give me away and afterwards, I would take his name "Murphy" as my middle name to honor his notable contributions to my life. I wasn't into the whole hyphenated surname trend, figuring that making my step-father's family name as my middle name would be quite enough. It would be a chapel wedding. I mean, really. And it would probably take place at either Hamilton Hall or Castle Hill in northeastern Massachusetts, to take advatage of the gardens for the reception. All this and more, I had pretty much decided on by the time I was 18.

Since then, I'd been proposed to twice. I put them off and put them off and finally said no, or said yes and then changed my mind, or ran away before thing got a chance to get that far. It wasn't that I didn't want to be wed. It was that they weren't right. They just weren't right. They were wonderful. But they weren't, well. They just weren't. Or I wasn't.

Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.

For some reason, I always thought I'd be married when I was 24. It seemed like a such a good age to wed. You're out of college, in the prime of your physical attractiveness, old enough to be aware of your actions, young enough to be hopeful. And, it was my lucky number. But I was 24 when I broke off my engagement. It just didn't occur to me that 24 wouldn't be old enough to make a commitment. For some, it is. Not for me. I was, and am, a late bloomer. Thank heavens I was old enough to realize I wasn't old enough.

I guess, in the end, that dreams are foolish when they get in the way of your happiness. I decided, in 1998, that I'd stay true to myself even if it meant that I'd never live the life I'd envisioned for myself. I decided, in the dawn of 1998, that I'd spend all my savings and then some to move 400 miles away from my home, because money comes and goes but never really matters. I decided, with no small amount of commiseration, to decline the invitation offered by the boy next door because he wasn't right. I left home, broke with convention, and ran away with the kid with no expectations at all.

The move was a bitch. We fought and argued and spent a lot of time getting to know each other. Yet I've discovered, now past my 28th year, that I made the right decision after all.

My parents bought him a pen for his 22nd birthday, engraved.

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