Today (yes! today!) is my 10 year anniversary with C. I’ve said it before, but it really is mind boggling sometimes. Going along, day to day, it never seems like that long. But every once in a while I sit back and marvel at it. And that’s when a decade with a person has heft, has some weight behind it.
We’re not doing anything special, which is fine. I’ll be cooking one hell of a dinner on Friday (she’s taking 2 days off work so we can relax and celebrate). But I’m so damn giddy, I keep expecting to walk outside and see fireworks in the sky. Everyone should take an hour off of work and go drinking because OH MY GOD WE MADE IT THIS FAR.
If you know us, hell, you might be one of the few who knew us before we started dating, you might be just as amazed as we are. It has not been easy, and we’re the first ones to admit that. We have no earthly clue how we’ve pulled it off and managed to stay together. For those not in the know, and for my own self-indulgent, self-congratulatory purposes, I’m providing a timeline.
May 1998: I’ve just finished my first year of college and I’m about to turn 19. My friends are scattered here and there and my closest friends no longer live near me. One night, my mom calls me and asks if I want to meet at a coffee shop where my dad is doing a show. She promises to buy me dinner. When I show up, she tells me that she’s run into M, a guy who took magic lessons from my father as a child. I say hi, and sit down to chat. As he’s leaving, he invites us to a club later that night where he’s performing. I’m hesitant to go, but my mom insists and says she’ll go with me. We go, and while I’m there M introduces me to some of his friends.
That is the first time I meet C. She’s quiet and doesn’t say much and by the time I leave, I’ve forgotten her name.
The next night, I grab a friend of mine and we head to the same coffee shop. We run into T, who is friends with M and also knows my friend. They invite us to go out to New Orleans to go dancing at Oz. That turns into 4 consecutive nights of dancing at Oz. On one of these nights, C is there. I try to strike up a conversation, but she seems kind of bitchy and nonchalant. I say to my friend, “She’s cute, but . . . nahhh.”
June 1998: My friend and I go to T’s house where I meet C once again. This time, she speaks to me and we have a fairly long conversation. Turns out we both go to UNO and love Tori Amos. It also turns out that we know a lot of the same people and are the same age, though we went to different high schools. We agree that it’s amazing we’ve never met until then.
July/August 1998: I hang out with these people more and more and can reliably say that I have a new group of friends. By the time the fall semester starts, C and I have had to have a “we’re just friends” conversation. We have an astronomy class and lab together and, looking back, it was probably pretty cute that we spent one night a week together stargazing on the lakefront.
January 1999: Yet again, we’re having one of those “well, YEAH, but we’re just FRIENDS” talks.
March 1999: We keep having those talks and I’m starting to think she’s full of shit. Maybe. It sure feels like dating, especially when she breaks my heart to take up with someone else.
July 1999: During another one of those talks, we have an epic fight in my parents’ driveway and she walks the entire 8 or so miles back to her house. I drive and wait for her to get home because, as mad as I am, I want to make sure she gets there okay.
August 1999: I’m not speaking to C and have convinced myself that I am thoroughly over her. Of course, this is when she shows up in my driveway to declare her love for me. We’re both about to go on vacation and agree to take that time to think about things. I say I’ll have some kind of answer by the time I get back. I go on a fantastic road trip to Florida with a group of friends, though I’m being annoying with my endless pestering and advice-seeking. They all tell me that if I’m that hung up on her, I should date her and shut up already. I figure they’re right.
September 1999: I’m living with my friend T not far from where C is living. We start dating, she moves in. All those lesbian jokes are funny for a reason.
December 1999: We have our own place together. The heat doesn’t always work at full capacity, but it’s okay because we’re young and in love and cuddle together under piles of blankets in a full bed. Even now, any time it’s really cold, we don’t mind because it reminds us of those days.
June/July 2000: Shit, meet fan. Some truly terrible things happen and we are both really screwed up and not nearly mature enough to deal with any of it.
August 2000: So it’s amazing that I decide to move to Hattiesburg, MS with her. She’s switching schools, I don’t have a clue what I’m doing in school, so I take a year off. We get a house together and get evicted after one month by our crazy landlord (the guy who waits until we’re out of the house or even if it appears so and comes in to do . . . I don’t know what). We find a new apartment and I buy a case of beer for the construction crew there to go and move my piano before crazy man changes the locks. I have never been so thankful to be 21.
February 2001: I can’t take it in Hattiesburg anymore. I hate it there, my job has downsized and I’ve been let go. I move back to Louisiana and in with my parents. I cry all the way home the day I move out. C is already conspiring to move back as well and return to UNO. I’m happier in LA, but miss her so much I spend almost every weekend in Hattiesburg anyway. Plus, my cat is still there.
August 2001: C moves back and we live in a condo on Slidell’s lakefront (down the street from my parents). I love this place more than anything. We both go back to school and start getting involved with cool stuff.
May 2002: During spring finals, we get an eviction notice. There’s no reason that we can see for it. Because there’s nowhere for him to go, I put my darling cat to sleep because the shelter says they won’t even give him 24 hours before doing it. C is with me, and she buries him for me in my parents’ yard. We each move back in with our parents and for her, that is baaaaaad.
2002 – 2003: C’s situation at home is getting worse and worse.
December 2003: C’s parents inform her she will no longer be attending UNO. They have forged her signature and used her social security number to apply and enroll her in a college in Pensacola, FL. She says no, they say some incredibly amazing, stupid, prejudiced things that to this day I have trouble dealing with. While my family and I are in upstate NY for Christmas, and her family is in Florida, C moves out. My parents let her stay with us for a month and a half while she appeals for financial aid (using hard evidence of her mother’s crazy as part of the appeal).
February 2004: C moves in with H, the younger sister of a friend from high school. C and I are sharing my car and most nights I’m sleeping over there.
February 2005: H buys a house and C lives there with her. Still sharing my car, so I’m there most of the time.
August 2005: Katrina comes and does . . . all that. We evacuate with H, 2 guys from the crew of the film she was working on, and 3 cats. We head to North Louisiana before heading down to stay with C’s brother in West Palm Beach. We spend our 6th anniversary on an interstate in Mississippi trying to find gas in enough time to keep driving.
December 2005: Miraculously, we graduate from college.
February 2006: Due to what we all now refer to as “Katrina brain,” we hate H and she hates us. We move into the trailer that parents bought for my brother. I cannot believe that I’m a recent college graduate living in a trailer. It seems like a massive step backwards. But I somehow find steady work at a job that I kind of like and am really good at.
June 2007: For some weird reason, I decide to chuck it all and go to grad school. In Austin. We pack up our stuff and move the furthest away we’ve ever been. It’s lonely here until I make a great friend.
August 2008: C decides she doesn’t want to stay in her job forever and goes back to school to pick up necessary classes to apply to pharmacy school. This makes me happier than anything, even though she’s so overworked and stressed.
January 2009: The stress is getting to both of us. The fighting gets so bad that I start half-heartedly wondering if I can pay rent on my own somewhere. We have long talks and agree to try to make time for each other. We remind each other that if we got through a damn hurricane and all that stress without killing each other, anything else should be a snap.
Today: I’m almost done with school and C is trucking right along. We giggle together every night and keep each other awake as we chatter and make jokes. It’s like a silly slumber party. We make plans and try to make rational, mature decisions (sometimes). We go to movies. I surprise her with cupcakes. She sings me songs and makes breakfast. I listen to her post-work bitching. She listens to my grand theorizing on poetry and rhythm. We dance in the living room. We drive back roads at night. And we are still amazingly, madly in love. And I am really really happy.
So here’s to you, my very funny, strange sweetheart. And here’s to another 10. I can’t wait to see what we get up to next.