Look at that goon! The Boy turns twenty-five today, which means we have officially known each other for ten years. As I mentioned the other day, in just six years we will have known each other for the majority of our lives.
As many of you know, The Boy and I are complete opposites in a lot of ways: fast/slow, verbal/visual, small/big, etc, etc. Well another one of those ways, I’m figuring out, is memory. The Boy can’t remember what we ate for dinner yesterday, whereas I never forget anything and can tell you what I wore on the first day of school in 10th grade. (Seriously, what kind of room would I have in my brain for actually useful things if I could just get rid of that knowledge?)
So anyway, a few weeks ago we were talking about our upcoming wedding anniversary and how long we’ve known each other, and I started reminiscing about the past. It quickly became clear how little The Boy remembered about our shared history, so I started telling him all of the stories I could remember.
And the more I remembered, the more I remembered, and soon it seemed like a good idea to start writing things down.
So for you, my forgetful husband, on your birthday I have a story from every year we have known each other. And for the rest of you, I thought you might enjoy some goofy pictures of The Boy and I from our wonder years, like this gem….
15 was the year that we met and the year of our first ever kiss, which happens to be one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. It was the second to last day of summer, and I was hanging out with two friends, who (because they were teenage boys) plied me with several glasses of what I’m pretty sure was every type of booze in their parents’ liquor cabinet all mixed together. You came over, and I had to keep drinking because I was so nervous…. I’d had one of those idiot swooning crushes on you for months. Here it gets a little fuzzy, the rest of the night a string of isolated images…. sitting next to you, watching This Is Spinal Tap…. making out with you (finally!) with Spinal Tap still on in the background…. throwing up in the bathroom, desperately trying to make the room stop spinning, so I could go back to making out with you…. you dragging me outside for some fresh air, my head still spinning as I tried to kiss you but missed and landed face down in the grass…. later that night, when someone drove me home, you offered to walk me inside, but I declined. I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling, giddy with the knowledge that we had just shared the first of what I was sure would be many kisses. I smiled to myself, and then rolled over and threw up on the floor.
16 was the year where I browbeat you into giving me a ride to my after school job, but then I changed my mind and called in sick. We went back to your house and laid side by side on your bed listening to music. We were both dating other people, but somehow, inexplicably, I ended up with my head on your chest while you drew lazy circles on my arm with your thumb. We stayed that way awhile, not saying anything at all, and afterwards we pretended like it never happened.
17 was the year that I cried in the backseat of your car after I’d gotten caught doing something extremely stupid at school. My parents had been called, and I was dreading going home. I was especially upset because things had finally been getting better… I wasn’t fighting with my mom and dad so much, I was doing alright in school, and then one little thing came back to slap me in the face. I was babbling on and on about the impending apocalypse, and you listened patiently until I ran out of breath and then said, “That’s the thing about apocalypses, though. Once the smoke clears, it’s a brand new world.” I was so surprised that you were capable of saying something so eloquent that I stopped crying.
18 was the year that we got lost hiking to a special spot that you had visited as a kid. The mile long hike took us an hour more than we expected, and I was sweaty and complaining as I rounded the final corner, but when I saw where we were I stopped mid-whine. Before us were giant hillocks and heaps of glittering mica. I scrambled up and down these mounds, kicking up the crystal shards like stony snowflakes. You told me about when you were a kid and you’d hike there in the winter when the trees were bare and the sky was grey, and you’d pretend that you were exploring the moon of some far-off planet. I looked at you and wondered for the millionth time how on earth you managed to make every tiny little thing sound like the grandest adventure.
19 was the year you came to see me at Sarah Lawrence, and we tried in vain to find a decent place to hike. We ended up at a sad and barren dog park in New Rochelle, where even under the shelter of the trees we could see the cars whistling by on the highway. We’d been fighting for weeks because I finally felt like maybe I was ready to date you, and after all that time waiting for me you’d started to pull away. Though we were on pause between arguments, we were still mad and walked mostly in silence until you very quietly murmured that you didn’t think you wanted to be with me after all. My step faltered so slightly that I don’t think you even noticed. I looked at you with eyes hard and dark and said, “You’re not the person I thought you were, anyway.” And that was the last thing we said until we got back to the car. I slammed the door on my way back in, and you said my name so softly I thought maybe you had changed your mind, but then you realized how many missed calls you had from your girlfriend, and we didn’t say anything else the rest of the way back to my dorm. As I watched you drive away I thought, “He’s slipped away from me. He’s gone.”
20 was the year we saw our first Furthur concert, and in all the thirty or so shows I’ve seen since I’ve never been to one without you. We sat in camp chairs at the back of the crowd, and I was immobilized by awe. To my right, two chubby women were spinning in circles with flowers in their hair and Coors light cans in their hands. In front of me, a burly bearded man was dancing with his toddler son up on his shoulders. I looked your way to tell you how beautiful it all was, but when I saw the fireworks, and the stars, and the giant tree of Seaside Park all glowing in your huge eyes I just said, “I love you,” instead.
21 was the year we cast a sky lantern up into the air at dawn. We sat on a rock wall at the beach watching our flaming lantern grow smaller and smaller as the sun rose. You had just asked me to marry you. I had just said yes. Life paused briefly in that small and perfect moment, and then your brother came and sat beside us, and everything picked up right where it had left off.
22 was the year you came to visit me in Los Angeles. We’d been living on opposite sides of the country for half a year, and we weren’t enjoying it. It had been unbearably hot in LA for weeks, and I had no air conditioning. My fan, perhaps in protest from overuse, had started doing this peculiar thing where it would stutter as it oscillated, jerking violently from point to point rather than swinging smoothly left to right. It made this horrible crunching robot noise that had been keeping me up at night for weeks. But at the end of your visit I returned home from dropping you off at the airport, and the fan was working perfectly again. You hadn’t said anything about it, but I knew you had fixed it while I was at work that day. I hadn’t asked you to, you just did it. And I stood there in my bedroom and cried over a fan and The Boy who always took care of me without having to be asked.
23 was the year we sat around a bonfire in the back of your backyard. We’d been married for about six hours. Almost all of our guests had left, except for a small handful of our very oldest friends. We sat on one of the big rocks with my head resting our your shoulder as you roasted a marshmallow. It was after midnight, but somehow the air was barely cooler than the scorching afternoon when we’d said our vows. Your mom sat out there with all of us, telling stories about you, and your brother, and your father. And I thought about how the people who were still there with us around that fire were the same people who were always bumming around your house somewhere during that magic summer when I was eighteen and we both fell in love. It was a ragtag group, and in the intervening years we’d all changed, and drifted, and moved, and grown, but that night by the fire it felt like everything had come full circle, and we were the same stupid kids who used to sit around your driveway drinking beers at 11 in the morning and driving ATVs across your front yard.
24 was the year I slept in my very first Best Western. We had packed up all of our belongings and our cat and hit the road for an unknown city. Moving had not been easy. Like fools, we thought it would take a matter of hours to pack our entire house — after all, how much stuff can you fit into 400 square feet? There had been a fair amount of yelling and eye rolling as we left Smog City behind, but by the time we reached the motel in Redding, California I had never felt so free. Matilda was ecstatic about all the carpet in the room — so many feet to smell! We sat on the edge of the bed together for a little while and laughed as she ran all around the room, rubbing herself up against every surface she could find. I was too exhausted to move, and sitting in that hotel room it finally started to hit me that everything I knew I’d really left behind, and all that lay ahead would be new and foreign. It wasn’t scary; we were doing it together.
I think that last sentence pretty neatly sums up the entire ten years that I have known you so far. In all the adventures of my life, you’ve been there in some form or another… on the phone, by my side, or just in my thoughts. Let’s keep it that way for the next ten, shall we?
Thank you to anyone whose pictures I stole for this post.