Shmenn and I went to New York City as a late birthday gift (or Valentine’s gift, I can’t remember) to me. It really was a “convince Chris to move to NYC” trip because Shmenn was ready to be back in the Big Apple, and I was going to be graduating at the end of the year.
I needed no convincing. New York City was the mistress I had yearned for my entire life, I ached for her. When I imagined my life in my twenties and thirties I imagined Manhattan and Brooklyn, small apartments and broken radiators, late night subway commutes, dog parks and gyro stands.
This would be my first adult vacation, just me and a girlfriend, no family flying in tow, and it would be my first time really in New York — I had been once before when I was younger, to take a cruise up to Canada, but really we just flew in to La Guardia and were at the port almost immediately, it hardly counted.
*Theme Music and opening credits play*
Shmenn and I had been together for about a year and I was young and in love and crazy. I planned to propose on this trip. We already practically lived together, she had moved across the country for me about three months into us dating (that should have been a red flag, just saying), and I didn’t think my future had anything else in store besides me and her… and New York. I blindly overlooked her aversion to my transition and that our dynamic wasn’t quite perfect, and that her family didn’t approve, and that… well… we were 21, so odds are, we weren’t getting married. I had a ring in my jacket pocket the entire trip. It wasn’t expensive really, just a couple hundred dollars, all I could afford on my student/cave tour guide (that’s not a joke) *salary*, and more a promise than anything.
We had talked about marriage, raising a family, growing old. But maybe to Shmenn it had been just talk. I must have missed that signal.
Her friends who we were staying with in Bed-Stuy had the same intentions as me. I showed up and Shmayla (her friend from college) pulled me aside, “You’re doing it aren’t you??”
“Doing what?” I stammered.
“Romantic trip. You’re taking her to broadway and dinner tomorrow. You’re proposing! Just tell me if we should get a cheese plate and some wine for after!”
“I’m playing it by ear.” I said, and that was that.
We had three days in the city to explore, Shmenn had gone to school in Brooklyn for a year or so, so she knew her way around. I was wide-eyed, jaw dragging on the ground everywhere we went. We explored DUMBO, Central Park, The High Line, Williamsburg, China Town, Little Italy. We must have walked 10 miles that first day, easily. We took a million pictures, kissed on every street corner, we were on top of the world.
I took her to see Wicked on Broadway, that was my 1 year anniversary gift to her. She had never seen Wicked, but as a singer and actress loved musicals of all kinds… this was my third time (though the first in NYC). We dressed up, her in a beautiful new dress, me in a vest and tie, and a leather jacket despite it being May (what even are seasons??). The night was perfect, crisp, I remember every second. We cried at the show, drinking overpriced wine, we had a stranger take our picture in Times Square, we rode the M train home. When we got back Shmayla was waiting, “You didn’t text me… so I got cheese and wine just in case.”
“Get it ready, let’s go to the roof.” I said. I was 21, I was in love, I was certain.
We were overlooking the city, the Brooklyn Bridge lit up like a hundred Christmas trees. Cars honking in what could have been the most beautiful symphony. Shmayla had stolen my camera and pretended to fiddle with it, but really she was taking sly pictures of us. Her other two roommates whose names I can’t pretend to remember were drinking wine from the bottle near the railing, Shmenn turned around and I was down on one knee. She looked geniunely, shocked, I assumed it was a good reaction, sheer surprise.
I’ve never told my mother I proposed to Shmenn, or really that many people for that matter. You see, at first she said, “Yes! Of course!” We made our way to bed, on the pull out couch, and had sex all night. Her friends walked out at one point to tease us, I was too thrilled with the evening to care or be embarrassed. Until Shmenn woke me up at 7am.
“We’ve made a mistake, I can’t do this.” She wasn’t crying, she wasn’t even all that sad sounding, she was just… quiet.
“What do you mean…?”
“My mom doesn’t approve of us, I haven’t spoken to her in months. I won’t be engaged when my family can’t know. I just won’t.”
“Okay.” I didn’t know what else to say.
We didn’t tell her friends that she had done a take-backsies on my proposal, we had another day or so in the city and we tried to make the best of it. I never recovered from that weekend, it was only downhill from there.
*Next Time on Nobody Scissors… We should totally move in together, because why wouldn’t we?”