I said yes.
What's the first thing that attracted you to your love? What's it today?
Cliche as it may sound, his sense of humor.
We met online so I really had no idea what he looked like when we first started talking. All I know is I was going through a very dark time in my life and he managed to make me smile and laugh on a regular basis. I also loved his laid back nature, how he’d bring me down to reasonable levels of sanity when I was panicking about something I had no control over. It was his ability to take me from a panicky situation to reasonable calmness with just a few words that made me feel safe with him. So, his humor and his level headedness.
Today, it’s still very much those things. Also, his intelligence (he is seriously one of the smartest people I ever met), his fierce protectionism of my kids, his laugh, his empathy, the way he listens, his excitement about the little things that make him happy, how easy he is to please, his entire attitude toward life, his pragmatism, the way he grounds me, his hugs, his ability to keep me from panicking about everything, his loyalty, the way he has to put up with all my bullshit and he loves me nonetheless. And really, the most important thing and something I’ve written here before is how he makes me laugh. Even at what feels like the worst of times, he makes me laugh. That’s golden.
I could probably make this three paragraphs more, easily. But I’ll stop here.
Tomorrow will mark six years to the day that Todd moved to New York and thus the day we call our anniversary. I’ll be in another time zone, another country and will be concentrating on forgetting everything here and having a fabulous time in Barcelona so I won’t be writing about it so here’s what I wrote last year (updated for accuracy)
Six years ago today.
He pulls into my driveway in a 1990 Toyota Forerunner that has over 200,000 miles on it. He drove across the country in that thing. In the back of the Toyota are his life’s belongings. He’s not much for accumulating things. A television, a turntable, books, DVDS, his laptop, a few pillows and blankets and clothes. Not much else.
He’s home. But not home, not yet. He’s here. New York. In my driveway. He gets out of his car, stretches a bit. We embrace and then we stay like that for a few minutes, both of us knowing that our lives, in that moment, have changed.
We go in the house, I have things ready for him. A sandwich. Grape soda. A place to put his feet up for while. We talk about his trip. We sit quietly and don’t talk about anything. We don’t talk about how this is a beginning. We don’t talk about how nervous we are. We don’t talk about how relieved we are.
We ride in the Toyota to his apartment, just blocks from my parent’s house, on the street where I lived a disastrous life for about ten years. It takes us only two trips each to unpack his car and bring his entire life into the studio apartment he’s renting. I’d already stocked it with food, drinks, everything he’d need that he didn’t have crammed into his truck.
We lay on his bed and don’t talk about anything. We’re tired. We’re content. We fall asleep in his new apartment in his new state, in our new life. We wake up in semi-darkness.
“So this is it,” I say.
“This is it,” he says.
We both smile.
Six years later. The Toyota is gone. The California plates are gone. The apartment is gone. We have a home together now, our home. We have settled in to a life in which my family is his family and his family is my family. He’s no longer scouring the want ads for shitty jobs to tide him over until the big one comes along because the big one is his. I’m no longer drinking myself to sleep. Things have happened in six years. So many things. We’ve changed. We’ve moved on. We have healed. We have become better. We’ve become whole.
Four years ago my daughter said to me ”He made our house a home.”
We have become better.
He’s taught me a lot of things in these six years and while I was going to say he taught me how to love, that’s not entirely true. I knew how to love. Not always the right people, but I knew. What he did teach me is how to be loved. There’s a big distinction there, an important one.
Six years. I could really go on and on about all that has happened in those six years, about the changes and the adventures, the great times that make lasting memories, the not so great times that helped us learn and grow and all the laughs and the tears and the sweet little moments but it’s all here in these pages in words and pictures. It’s a story that is still unfolding.
When I wake up tomorrow in a hotel room in Barcelona with him next to me I’ll think, this is it.
And I’m grateful for everything that it is.
Here’s to lasting happiness.
Repeat. For reasons.
We don’t have a real anniversary. That’s what happens when you meet online. There’s the day you started talking and the talking morphs into friendship and the friendship slowly slides into something else until you realize that something else feels an awful lot like love. There’s no first date. No official day you started dating. So there’s the anniversary of the day you first met each other face to face and if you’re like me and you’re big on special dates and cheesy sentiments and memorable moments, you take that and call it an anniversary of sorts (though I do also “celebrate” the day he moved here as well).
So, six years ago this week.
It’s a weird kind of nervousness, meeting someone for the first time when you’re already in love with them. You have an intense relationship because distance calls for intenseness. You can’t hold each other’s hands or wrap your legs around them at night. Your time together is limited. You have to cram every emotion and feeling into those phone calls and chats and it’s so hard to convey everything you feel that you end up feeling everything all the time. So when you’re finally going to be together and actually get to touch each other and look into their eyes and do things together, you wonder if it will be the same. You wonder if it will feel the same. Or if it feels different, will it feel a good kind of different. Better?
So you drive to the airport with this massive ball of fear and anxiousness sitting in the pit of your stomach and all the what ifs run through your mind. What if we don’t click in person? What if it all goes to hell? Should I have worn my hair a different way? Did I put on enough deodorant? Do these pants make me look fat?
And then you get to the airport and you pace and pace and check the flight board and when it says the plane has landed you nearly run into the bathroom to puke. What do I do? You have imagined this scenario in your head a million times, the two of you meeting, waving shyly as you recognize each other from the million pictures you sent and then a slow embrace, maybe playing out like some awful romantic movie starring someone who was a runner up on American Idol. Will it be awkward? What if he doesn’t recognize you because you look nothing like those photos and he’ll say “this isn’t what I flew here for!” and you lose him in the crowd as he makes his way from arrivals to departures. This is your brain on nervousness.
And then there you are. You just find each other. He kisses you as if he has kissed you a thousand times before and it’s all so comfortable and normal you feel as if you’ve always done this. You walk to your car holding hands and he tells you about his flight and you drive home, the anxiety slowly creeping out of your brain.
There are four days filled with hurried activity. Driving around. Dinners out. Meeting your friends and family. A birthday celebration. Lots of time in bed, half watching movies, just enjoying the company of each other. Just being together.
And then the time comes when it has to end and the anxiety creeps up again. Will he come back? Was I good enough? Were we good enough? Does he think we clicked because I think we clicked and oh god what if he doesn’t think we clicked? What if he gets on that plane and never looks back and he changes his email address and his phone number and I’ll never see him again? Anxiety is a bitch. She truly is.
Then he stands at the gate, at the furthest part where you can still go without a boarding pass. He reaches for you and you stand there together. You feel the warmth of his body, you listen to his heart beat as you rest your head against him and you try not to cry, he’s telling you not to cry and he’s promising you he’ll be back but you cry anyhow, a cry of relief because you know. In that instant where neither of you want to part, you know. It worked. It’s working. It’s real. We are good together. To good to not be together.
Then, just as he’s about to leave, he whispers into your ear.
“I’ll be back around.”
You drive home by yourself and you’re ok with that because you’re alone but not alone. You listen to The Cars. You listen to “You Might Think” and you smile.
Three months later, true to his word, he’s back around.
He’s still here. Six years later, he’s still here. Six years ago this week my life didn’t just change, it started.
He won’t be here for our “anniversary” this year; he’s currently sweltering in Phoenix on a business trip. But that’s ok. We’ve got the rest of our lives to celebrate. As we do.