It’s funny: The Plan was meant to protect me from all that stuff—complicated situations, obsessing, conflicted feelings—so I could focus on my future. Yet when I considered a future without John, my heart hurt. It felt wrong. It dawned on me that my heart or gut or intuition or whatever you want to call it hadn’t failed me before. Why would now be different? The Plan needed editing, and the revision should include John.

So I wrote him in. And over the next several months, he showed me that not only was he not an impediment to my adulthood, he was a shining example of how to be a grown-up. On his first trip to see me in NYC, we had lobster rolls at Pearl Oyster Bar, and he explained the mistakes that had gotten him into debt but also outlined what he was doing to get back on track, including moving back home. It was embarrassing, he said, but also necessary. His frankness, and that he trusted me enough to tell me all the bad stuff, was shocking in the best way possible. He recognized that scrapping his plans and doing what he had to was the smartest way to go. I’d misjudged his maturity.
After that visit, I knew my future wouldn’t go as I’d plotted. It’d be better. Dating long-distance was hard, but it gave me what I wanted all along: the freedom to concentrate on myself and my career. It sounds clichéd, but John helped bring out the best in me, and he said I did the same for him. He was more motivated about work, and soon he rented a house with a friend and was close to being debt-free. Then, after eight months of weekend visits and countless texts, emails and calls, John was assigned a two-year consulting project in Manhattan (apartment included)—right as we were about to take steps to finally be together. When his project ended, we moved to Chicago, and a few months later, he surprised me with homemade lobster rolls, told me that it was during our dinner at Pearl Oyster Bar that he realized he wanted to spend his life with me, and then he asked me to marry him.

I intend to be John’s wife forever, but I’ve otherwise given up making plans. I don’t like the process (planning our wedding was not fun for me—unlike the wedding itself), and I get stressed and uneasy when plans don’t pan out. I’m happiest when I don’t feel hemmed in by preconceived ideas of what’s supposed to happen.
Case in point: Two years ago, John and I decided to adopt a young dog from a shelter, figuring we’d avoid the crazy-puppy phase but have a friend who’d grow up with our family. We fell in love with Coco, who the shelter said was about 2 years old, but when we took her to the vet, he told us she was at least 10. She has cataracts and arthritis, and we’re pretty sure she’s deaf. But after our initial disappointment, we realized it was the best mistake. She’s so sweet and mellow and wants only to snooze, look out the window and bask in our love, and we know not to take her for granted. Coco’s one more reminder that my life can turn out even better than I could have imagined—or planned.