It seems hard to come up with words of praise that I don’t already say every day, because you’re so easy to praise.
Right now you’re playing a one-person role-playing game about a vampire. Part of that game mechanic is losing memories. Over the years, I know that’s been happening too. But here are some flashes.
We met in high school. And I didn’t think much at first, given you were crushing on another person at the time. But we kept coming into contact with each other, and eventually fell in love. I had never been so attracted to anyone in my life and I wanted to be with you, to touch you, to talk with you, more than any other person I have ever met. We would regularly get in trouble for PDA (public displays of affection), but I regret nothing!
You moping under a staircase. You at your roommate’s birthday party. You on a walk for the first time. You alone with me walking talking about a Gurps game as if it were real. Kissing my hand. You wanting to start slow. My mom asking if I’m dating that guy (yes). Standing on a hillside at night looking out at the night with you holding me, suddenly realizing we’re late for check and sprinting (then not getting in trouble!) Being miserable when we have to part. Spending hours on the phone. Calling you after seeing The Fantastiks and your dad being angry it was so late.
In college, we decided to take a break from exclusive dating because we’d seen how much stress the first two years put on relationships. One of my high school roommates had even gone so far as accepting the same school as her boyfriend had gone to the year prior, only to find out he’d been cheating on her for months. (She went, but eventually transferred elsewhere.) I dated several losers who wanted a mother figure, because apparently that’s the kind of person I attract who isn’t you.
Visiting you. Your tiny room. Meeting your friends. Your roommate wearing nothing but boxers all the time and watching 8 heads in a duffel bag. Amazing summers. Cicadas. Your summer place in a lousy neighborhood. That weekend at your conference, almost missing an econ final because the train back was delayed (but I made it– walked straight from the station to the final and aced it). You visiting me. My friends loving your haircut but me hating it (I think I’d be ok if you changed it now, but 20+ years ago, less so!). Talking to you on the phone, telling you I hate living without you, and maybe we should get married after college.
We got married.
You smiled. I cried from happiness. I cry when I’m overwhelmed. Driving to Canada. That garlic restaurant. Niagara Falls looking so nice on one side and so… not… on the other.
Graduate school was stressful. But we got through it and grew stronger.
Our tiny first apartment– 10×10. Buying cheap furniture. We had to close the futon to use the computers. Moving to a bigger apartment (30×10). You learning to cook. Our first anniversary in the rain, coming back sopping wet and so happy. The chocolate restaurant. Moving to undergraduate dorms. The students and their craziness, their anxieties, their joys, their electronic explorations. The Malaysian place. The full day trip complete with rose gardens and strawberry picking that you planned for me. That BBQ place. Moving to a bigger apartment. Tiny Little Kitty loved me best and friendly Big Kitty loved you best. Buying slightly nicer furniture. Walking to your lab. Walking home from work through the shops then the flowers.
Infertility sucked, but we got through it. We got jobs and bought a house, which had more unexpected expenses than we’d planned for. We had DC1 who was a delight and went on leave to a Paradise while you tried a start-up for a year and took a fancy cooking class. You became a better cook than I am. Then we had DC2 and took another leave to another Paradise.
Pregnancy test strips. Driving across country in the middle of the night, trying to find a hotel that will take pets (eventually I got out my phone and called Holiday Inn and they directed us to one). Not being able to afford furniture or a w/d for a few months. You being so amazed at my growing stomach. Giving birth. You with our baby. So proud of someone who can do so little. Our children are amazing.
The past five years have been a complete blur (I blame politics). Our children are older. DC1 will be going to college in no time. You have a new job. We seriously want to move to a blue state.
Bread. Youtube videos. Violin. Piano. Registering people to vote. Protests. Phone calls. A year of sleeping in and doing curbside pickup.
No matter what happens in the future, I want to build new memories with you. I love you so much. You’re reading a poignant comic book right now that you’re pretty sure I wouldn’t like (you know I don’t like poignant), but in it there’s a weird older couple in their 90s who are still together. (“How are we weird,” I asked. “Well, we’re pretty co-dependent,” you said. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way,” you added.) I want that. (But I won’t control your olive consumption.) Another half century with you would be amazing.