1. Meet in the cereal aisle of the grocery store.
  2. Go on your first date.
  3. Go on more dates, to an art museum, a public park, and a café that serves meals in little mason jars. Laugh together about the ridiculousness of it all. Notice how free your partner’s laugh sounds. While taking a sip of cold brew, realize that you want to marry this person.
  4. Take a leap and suggest a weekend getaway together to a sleepy seaside town. Spend the entire time in the hotel room.
  5. Tell your best friend over coffee that you want to propose. Tell your parents. Tell your partner’s parents.
  6. Buy a refurbished loft apartment together.
  7. Buy the ring. Let it burn a hole in your pocket for a little while.
  8. Return your newly-bought mattress to the store, as it hurts your partner’s back and does not help the chronic aches they have from competing in gymnastics tournaments as an adolescent.
  9. Miss the sign-up for your health insurance by one day. Have your partner come home from work to find you weeping on the couch.
  10. Adopt a shelter dog together. Name him Patches McGee.
  11. Find yourself in the same cereal aisle you two met in. While your partner is going on about the pros and cons of dried fruit in cereals, figure that now is as good a time as ever. Propose, and have the toddler in the aisle clap her hands while other shoppers look on fondly.
  12. Get married. Patches McGee is a part of the ceremony, because that’s the kind of couple you are.
  13. Go to Mykonos for your honeymoon. Meet other newlyweds you vow to connect with when you get home, but never follow up on it.
  14. Move out of the loft apartment. Buy a house in a good school district an hour outside of the city. Accidentally spill loose Yerba Mate all over the carpet and get an earful.
  15. After months of trying, you both anxiously wait, until you hear the timer ding. Happy tears well up in your eyes. You will be parents.
  16. Decorate the nursery. Freak out about the accent colors in a thinly-veiled disguise for your fear of becoming the worst parts of your parents and handing down the emotional trauma they inadvertently gave you.
  17. One hot summer day, your daughter is born.
  18. Three years later, you have a son. You hope your kids will get along. They will not.
  19. When your daughter is ten and your son is seven, your partner finds out that their mother’s dementia is rapidly worsening. Hold them while they cry.
  20. Patches McGee has become frail in his old age. The vet announces that he will need to be put down. Swallow a lump in your throat. Hold your partner’s hand.
  21. When your daughter is thirteen, she tells you that she hates you. Your son laughs. You know this is a part of growing up, but it still hurts.
  22. One night after the kids are asleep and your partner has put the Kindle aside, subtly remark on the lack of sexual activity between the two of you. Your partner yawns.
  23. Start going to couples counseling.
  24. After a few years of honest hard work, you and your partner are on the same page again. It feels like home again.
  25. Cry at your daughter’s high school graduation. Embarrass her. In a few years, do the same at your son’s.
  26. When the kids are out of the house, bring up the fact that you and your partner haven’t gone on a vacation together in years. Your partner will freeze for a moment, leaving the tossed salad for dinner on the kitchen island.
  27. When your daughter has graduated from college and is traveling the world, your son shares some news: he wants to transfer to art school. Put your anxieties for his future aside and let him spread his wings.
  28. After months of planning and rescheduling, relocate that same kitschy hotel you stayed in. It has wilted over the years but still holds magic. Book a room.
  29. Arrive at the same room you two were first booked in. Turn to your partner and find that they are already looking at you.
  30. Rip each other’s fleece jackets off. While kissing, think about the question you’ve been wanting to ask for so long. Your partner notices.
  31. Ask your partner if they would like to try something new. After a brief pause, a chuckle, and a trusting gaze, you exhale. It is time.
  32. Peg.
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