My girlfriend, Ronnie, and I were going through a pile of hand-me-down clothes one of her friends had given me. As we went through the dresses, I was ruthless with what I did and didn’t want, throwing something in the “Donate” pile if there was even a single detail I didn’t like about it. (I’m a militant declutterer.) There was one white dress that Ronnie liked but I didn’t and I said, “It’s not like I’m getting married again.” There was an awkward pause after I made that statement. I made a mental note to revisit that awkward pause.
A few days later, I brought up the pause. I’ve been pretty assertive with Ronnie regarding our communication. Between me repressing being transgender and my ex repressing her shit, my marriage had been fairly sterile when it came to emotional honesty and I had made myself a vow that I would never fall into that kind of relationship again. So, I jumped into the marriage conversation with Ronnie despite my nervousness about what she might say or how she might feel about my thoughts.
I love Ronnie’s honesty and candor. She told me that we’d both been down that road, we’d both had marriages that didn’t work out, and that she didn’t need to be married to be happy with me or with herself. She reminded me to relax and enjoy the moment instead of worrying about the future and all of its possible scenarios and potential outcomes. I relaxed at the end of the conversation because I felt the same way.
I don’t need a piece of paper from the government or a blessing from a church to love Ronnie. I stand before her emotionally naked. There’s nothing hidden. I remind her all the time that I am hers. That she is mine. That I trust her. She wears a heart shaped necklace and I like to hold it in my hand as a reminder to be tender with her heart because she’s trusted me with it.
One morning a few months later, Ronnie and I were having brunch at a café right down the road from where we live. (The best part of living in Downtown Plano is that so many great restaurants are walking distance for us!) I love that coffee shop’s aesthetic. The white tables are a perfect canvas for Instagram photos. The brick walls and huge windows letting in natural light are a selfie taker’s dream. Oh, and the brunch menu is kick ass, too. Anyway, my feelings for Ronnie had grown exponentially over the months since the marriage conversation. I threw caution to the wind, embraced the moment, and told Ronnie, “You know, I’d marry you if you asked me.” I felt my face flush with emotion as I spoke my truth.
A few days later Ronnie asked me what my ring size was. I told her I didn’t know any more, because estrogen was changing my muscle mass and I could already tell that my fingers had gotten skinnier.
I loved the idea of being pursued and being proposed to. I wanted to be swept off of my feet. I wanted the fairy tale. Ronnie seemed perfectly comfortable stepping into the Knight in Shining Armor role but it hit me one day- what about her? Didn’t she deserve to be pursued? Didn’t she want to be proposed to, too? Didn’t she want to be swept off of her feet? What about her fairy tale? I was genuinely torn as far as what I should do.
I asked Ronnie for her ring size a few weeks ago.
A couple of days later she pulled out one of her rings for me to try on to get my size (that’s when I learned that my ring size has gone down 1 1/2 sizes since I started hormone therapy).
It became a race against the clock for both of us, with both of us completely aware what the other one was up to.
I’m not an economically wealthy person. For the last three years I’ve been saving all of my tips, birthday cash, and every other extra penny for my transition. I live hand-to-mouth other than those savings. However, I wanted Mi Reina to have something nice, so I dipped into savings and got her a ring that would sweep her off of her feet. It was a traditional engagement ring, even though she isn’t really a traditional girl. I chose that ring and its decadence because I wanted Ronnie to understand how deep my love and devotion are for her. I wanted to communicate how much I value her.
I took a deep breath, paid for the ring, and waited for it to be delivered to our apartment. I was going to propose to Ronnie on her birthday.
The ring never shipped. On the last day before I could demand a refund, the company printed a shipping label, but they never gave the ring to the shipping company… the shipping status said “label created” every time I pulled up the shipping data, which was multiple times a day.
I thought about the ring constantly. It ate into my peace. Sure the money pissed me off but it was more about my plan to be the one to propose to Ronnie that upset me.
I was walking through the back corridor at work one day and I finally surrendered to the reality of my powerlessness. The ring would get here when it got here and no amount of anxiety would change that. Ronnie’s ring would get to her and she would ask me whenever she wanted to. I was not in control of the situation and I made my peace with everything as I went about my work.
Monday night I kissed Ronnie goodnight and told our friend, John, goodbye. I’ve had baker’s hours too long and I struggle to stay up past nine… and Ronnie and John tend to party pretty late. I was on the verge of falling asleep when Ronnie came into our bedroom and asked me if I was awake. I said “yes” and she asked me again. I forced myself to wake up a little more and genuinely said “yes” that time.
When Ronnie bent down to grab something on her side of the bed, I knew.
I woke all the way up and felt a shit-eating grin spread across my face. Ronnie told me that she had prepared a big speech but she just started winging it as she spoke. She told me that she didn’t want to get married again but that she was never going to leave me. She wanted to grow old with me. She told me that she was giving me a Promise Ring to show me that she loved me. It was a black ring with a black stone… she knows me well. I almost exclusively wear black.
I put on the ring and hugged and kissed Ronnie. I also thought well, this is gonna make that engagement ring I give her awkward.
I chewed on Ronnie’s promise and my conflicted emotions for a few days. I didn’t really care about the wedding dress nor the ceremony… other than loving the idea of a big pot of gumbo sitting alongside a taco station at the reception as a Cajun married a Latina. I realized that I wanted the commitment of marriage. I wanted the certainty. I talked with some of my girls at work and, as I processed the situation, I realized that a marriage commitment didn’t mean shit for me when life happened with my ex. It didn’t mean anything for Ronnie and her ex, either. You can either trust the promise a person makes or not. Adding God or the State into the equation doesn’t matter.
So, I choose to trust Ronnie.
This is a confusing place for someone as traditional as me to be but I’m leaning into it. The day before Ronnie’s birthday, I called her son and asked for his blessing to propose to his mom. He gave it to me and said that I make her happy. On Ronnie’s birthday, I gave her an empty ring box (The fucking ring never shipped.), proposed to her knowing the answer would be “no,” and told her that I was promising to be hers forever. I added the caveat that if she ever changed her mind and wanted to get married, I would say “yes” without hesitation… but I told her I don’t need the piece of paper.
I am Ronnie’s.
And Ronnie is mine.