The summer that I was 14, my family and I went on a vacation to Orlando Florida, and stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house.
Next door to Aunt and Uncle, lived…ahhhh….Sean. Or maybe Shawn? I’m not entirely certain, even though he was FOR SURE the love of my life. (For the 6 days that we knew each other).
It turned colder, and that’s where it ends with Sean (was his name Sam??), but I spent about a week, once we got back home to Texas, pining away for him. I remember asking my cousin, “how am I ever going to get over him?” (Oh, the drama). “You will meet plenty of other guys you like just as much, or better”, she said. To which I vividly remember arguing, “None of them will be Sean! No one will ever be so funny, and so confident….and he wore a gold chain, and I LOVE guys with gold chains”. (What? I DID. I kinda still DO, ok?). I also remember talking about his tan neck. I don’t know. I was 14. 14 -year old girls make up the most ridiculous segment of the human population.
One month later, I started my sophomore year at a brand new high school. I met a guy in Mr. Brawner’s Algebra class named Nason. Funny, confident, and lo and behold…he was sporting a gold chain. I don’t think his neck was all that tan. Alas, I’ve loved him ever since.
I’m 36, and I’ve loved the same guy for 21 years now. More than half of my life.
The other night, Nason and I invited our Single Friend over. (we just have one). We’ve been friends with him for forever. He used to accuse us of spending too much time “cuddling” in high school. (You remember that, J? “You guys quit cuddling”).
“Hey…you wanna come over and hang out with us and our baby tonight?” The answer, shockingly, was “yes”.
So our Footloose and Fancy Free Bachelor friend handled the role of “uncle” like a pro all the way up until Little Man’s bedtime, and then later, the three of us sat outside and sipped on vodka and listened to Ed Sheeran. He educated us on Bumble, and we spent some time talking about the good ‘ole days. No doubt we got a bit more contemplative and a bit more circumspect with each drink we had.
At one point, he turned to me, and said, “So you still like this guy, huh? How is that possible? How do you still like the same person for 20 years?”
Yes, I do, I told him, laughing.
Later though, I thought about it.
“DO I still like him, or do we just keep all of this going out of habit, or comfort, or obligation?”.
I didn’t have to think long at all, though.
I do like him. So much. Except for when I don’t like him at all. And even then, I kinda like him, the bastard.
It seems impossible, because who makes any sort of wise choice at 16, much less the choice of “Life Partner, That I’m Supposed to Like Forever”.
Equally astounding as all of this, is that I’m pretty sure he still likes me, too.
The other day, this is what he says to me:
“You’re seriously just my best friend. Even if I was single, and not looking to date, or maybe I was gay, or you were already taken, but somehow I met you, I would call you all the time to just hang out. You’re just really fun to hang out with, and I would just still want to be your best friend”.
I feel the same way.
Just call us Will and Grace.
I’m amazed though. Thankful, and sometimes fearful, because how DO you keep liking the same person for 20 years? And then 20 more? And 20 MORE? WILL I keep liking him for that many years? I can only assume so. One thing’s for sure…he’s going to be curmudgeonly and persnickety as shit when he’s old, because I’m already seeing signs of it.
Yes, it’s true…I do not like him every moment. He is a moody son of a bitch. A bit of a diva. He’s unpredictable. His life consists of one “kick” after the next, and it stresses me the eff out. Also, the guy has changed about 5 poop diapers in the last 5 years, and I battle legit bitterness over this almost daily.
He doesn’t like me every moment either. I can promise you that. (Although I can’t imagine for the life of me how he couldn’t.)
Well and THEN, you add in LIFE, and all of its stresses and heaviness and burden and drudgery. Obligations and annoyances and grief. Those things bring tension, and can cloud or dull the otherwise bright and shiny feeling of “I really LIKE you”.
And yet…for twenty-one years now..I continue to astound myself with this realization that, yup, “still like him.”
One time, someone asked me, “If you could do it all over again, would you do it that way? Would you choose the guy you are going to be with forever, at 16”?
My answer was complicated.
“No, but I would still choose Nason”.
It could have been fun to date other people, experience other things, get some life under my belt.
And yet…I chose I guy…a boy then, a man now….that I still LIKE. Why would I ever want to have chosen differently? Of all the things in this life that I’m thankful for, one of the things topping my list is this…that I still, at my very core, LIKE the man I’ve committed to spend my life with. I LOVE him like a husband, like a partner, like the father to my children…but I still LIKE him like a friend, like a boyfriend, even like someone who is fun to flirt with. I think it’s kind of rare to be able to maintain that, 21 years in.
The like comes and goes…believe me, it does. It freaking WENT just this week. Don’t even get me started.
It’s just that it keeps coming BACK. Over and over again. In spite of myself, in spite of HIM, and even when I don’t want to, I unwittingly find myself still liking him. It’s irritating, really. In the best possible way. And he doesn’t even wear a gold chain, anymore.
So today, on this 14th anniversary of marriage, I am so thankful to like YOU, Nason..the same man that I just so happen to also love.