Last month, on their 27th wedding anniversary, my parents slept in separate beds.
Not because of some argument or anything, but because of me. Their anniversary happened to be the most convenient day to drive me back to Baltimore for the spring semester. They decided to save the money and avoid the risk of staying in a hotel by crashing with me in my apartment. My dad, the gentleman that he is, let me and my mom have the full-size bed while he slept on an air mattress a few feet away.
Not the most romantic way to end their anniversary, but at least they had woken up in the same bed that morning, right? When I voiced that I felt a little bad that they were sleeping apart, they brushed it off, mentioning how we had already celebrated with a nice outdoor dinner up in the county. Besides, they said, they had shared a bed many a night before and would share a bed many a night following this one. This specific night didn’t really matter.
When I got to thinking about it, I thought it was actually pretty beautiful, a testament to how enduring their love is that a milestone like their anniversary didn’t need to go a certain way or prove anything because it’s only one small detail of a much bigger picture. I also realized that they were right; they’ve shared a bed for a hell of a lot of nights. Twenty-seven years is 9,855 nights (minus some business trips), and they also lived together for a while before they were married. All in all, that’s over 10,000 nights, which feels like an unfathomable and magnificently romantic amount. And it made me wonder, where will I be in 10,000 nights? Whom will I have spent those nights with, even just some of them?
I called my brother a few days ago, and while we were talking about some family history, we realized that he’s currently the same age that our mom was when she met our dad, which is 25. That shook us both, but especially him — how can you meet someone that young and then just know you want to spend the rest of your life with them? The future, as much as it’s still ahead of us, felt so imminent in that moment.
Thinking about the future like this can be overwhelming, but it also, for me, sometimes feels lighter and less complicated than thinking about this current moment, when the pandemic seems to weigh everything — even the best things — down. No matter what the situation is, dating and relationships are extra difficult right now, and Valentine’s Day, for all it's hyped up to be, can make that all the more glaring.
Maybe it feels like there’s no chance of meeting anyone, or that meeting people isn’t worth the risk. Maybe you’re doing long distance and can’t visit each other because of travel risks, or you’re only going on socially distant dates. Maybe you’re in a small pod with your partner, and you have to rely on each other as your main source of socialization and emotional support even more than you normally would. Those can all cause stress and anxiety within yourself or within a relationship. Thanks, corona.
I’m not advocating for anyone to give up on trying to live in the moment and make the best of what we have right now, because it’s definitely important to do that. But looking toward the future, which is yet unmarred, provides an escape, a renewed sense of hope and excitement about all that life has to offer, be it love or something else.
Thinking about the future has also made me look back at some of my college dating experiences in a new way. There are a number of memories that I’ve sentimentally held on to, like talking for hours on a first date at Carma’s or One World. Making mac and cheese together. Kissing goodbye in the AMR parking lot. Sitting at the top of the bleachers on Homewood Field at 3 a.m., just barely protected from the rain.
I’ve held on to these for a few reasons. For one, they’re simply nice memories where I felt happy and content to be with the people who were part of them. But even aside from the pandemic, dating can be hard, and I’ve spent a lot of time in college feeling lonely and insecure, putting way too much pressure on myself to find a relationship. So I also looked back at experiences like these somewhat bitterly, because they felt like near misses, and somewhat desperately, because I needed to remind myself of this tangible proof that people had been into me before, so hopefully that meant someone would be into me again.
But now I’ve also started to look at these memories as iterations of my future. Because there’s a younger Sophia, a much lonelier and more insecure Sophia from middle and high school, who thought she would only ever dream of having experiences like these ones in her future. But now I’ve actually lived them, fulfilled some of the hopes of my previous self, even as there’s been loneliness and sadness and a pandemic. That makes them feel more special and less like something to just desperately cling to.
And obviously not every one of my hopes and dreams will be fulfilled; that’s not how life works, and those things can also rapidly change. But it’s comforting and uplifting to think that every moment is another card played, that I can see the future, better and lighter, constantly unfurling before me.
Sophia Lola is a junior from Brooklyn, N.Y., majoring in Writing Seminars. She is a Magazine Editor for The News-Letter. Her column explores personal growth, whether it comes an inch or a mile at a time.