can’t count the years on one hand

Dear Crystal,

I tried to write this like a regular post, like I was talking to my mythical invisible audience, and I tried it like nine different ways and they were all terrible, so I decided to write to you instead. You’ve been my best audience from the very beginning anyway.

It’s been six years since we first decided to try the whole dating thing! Can you believe it? Isn’t that crazy? Six years that you’ve stuck by me and continued to make this thing work even when it’s insanely hard. Six years of dumb fights interspersed with the rare important ones. Six years of laughing at each other, with each other, at everything and everyone. Six years of loving each other.

I feel like this is one of those times where I should say, “It’s not always easy, but nothing that’s worth it ever is” or one of those things, but it’d be a lie because loving you is the easiest thing I have ever done — hands down, no contest — and the most rewarding.

You are so smart and so funny and so beautiful. It’s kind of horrifying how much I like you, honestly.

I have been so, so lucky to know you for the last seven-ish years, so lucky to have gotten to be your friend and to love you intensely and romantically and grossly for most of it. Everyone that knows you is better for it. We’re all lucky to have you in our lives, someone so unbelievably loyal and generous and kind. No one who knows you really deserves to and most of us know it.

You take incredible care of me and everyone you love. You care so much and so deeply that it astonishes me. You make me laugh every single day, even on the worst days I’ve ever had. You laugh at my stupid jokes and you encourage me to be the best writer/friend/daughter/sister/girlfriend/person I can possibly be.

I love spending my days with you, even when they’re filled with dumb adult decisions and errands, even when I’m being medically probed and prodded, even when everything else is terrible — you never are. You are the best part of every day.

The last six years have been the most important of my life, I think, for a lot of different reasons, but mostly because of you. I will never stop being grateful for you, for your love, for your remarkable and indescribable presence in my life. I will never stop being thankful that I get to share that life with you, that we have a life together. Loving you is the greatest thing I’ve ever done and I’ll never stop being grateful that you let me do it.

– Ash

you’re the nearest to my heart

Dear Crystal,

Today is five years since we started dating. Five years. That’s crazy, right? Genuinely unbelievable? Five years since we realized we wanted to hold hands and kiss and stuff and said, “Hey, let’s try this relationship thing” and then you kissed me real aggressively and got a bloody nose all over my chest. Good, memorable, wonderful times.

You’re the best person I know and not just because you not only tolerate, but love and enable me. You are smart and funny and kind and generous and I have never had someone love and support me the way that you do. You believe that I can do anything, even when I am sure than I cannot do anything at all.

You feel so much. It’s one of the best thing about you. You just feel. You feel love and hate and joy and sadness and you feel them all with a depth I cannot begin to imagine being capable of. It’s honestly magical to watch you experience the world because you see things that other people not just don’t, but can’t. You are moved by the world, frightened and delighted by it, and I am so grateful that I get to see that. Through you I see and learn things that I never could on my own.

You are infinitely kind and patient. Mostly. You care immensely about so much. You believe that people can be better and you push them toward it, even when it hurts. The world is lucky to have you.

There is an inherently narcissistic weight to being in a good relationship, but I have never been one to shy away from narcissism. You make me better. You make me smarter and more creative. You give me ideas and tell me to make them stories. You inspire words in me just by being who you are and moving through your life.

You have not taken every moment of our relationship in stride — you are too anxiety-ridden for that — but you have taken every moment anyway. You have rolled with terrifying and miserable changes and you have done so with hope and good humor. You have stood by me at my very, very worst and you have picked me up and cleaned my wounds when I was sure I would never stand again. I am so, so lucky to have you. The luckiest.

You know I don’t like promises and that I always cross my fingers even when I make them, but I’ll make you a few anyway. I promise to pull your eyelashes when they look loose. I promise to yell at you when you let water bottles accumulate on your side of the bed. I promise to think you are weird and wonderful every single day that I am lucky enough to have you in my life. I promise to probably walk out of Target again when you fight with me.

I promise to love you every single day until I can’t anymore.

Thanks for five incredibly lucky years and for the year and a half before that where everyone thought we were already dating anyway.

– Ash

our house at the south end of our street

There are a lot of complicated feelings in moving somewhere, even if you’re not moving far away, even if you’ve only lived somewhere for a little while or you never really liked the place anyway or you’ve been trying to escape since you were born.

my grandparents had these done for our families by some friend or other and i’ve always kind of loved ours

The house I’m moving out of — the place — is my home and my hometown. It’s the house my parents brought me home to after I was born and it’s got 27 years and almost five months of history for me. I learned to walk here and to talk and to read and write. I’ve made a lot of terrible decisions in these walls and a lot of good ones. The bedroom I’m typing this in right now has been mine since my sister moved out at 18. I was nine. It’s seen all my milestones.

I’ve cried and laughed a lot. I’ve spent days in this room, unable to leave, because I was too sad or angry or anxious. I’ve shared a bed with my friends and my fiancée and some people I hadn’t know that long and once there were literally 18 people crammed on it in pursuit of a picture.

I wrote my first novel in this room. I’ve written every piece of my own writing I’ve considered tolerable in this room. I have learned the most important things I know in this room. I fell in love in this room. And I shared it with the love of my life. I got engaged in this room. I’ve broken things in anger in this room and screamed in joy and fought and yelled with so many of the most important people in my life. I’ve thought about suicide in this room. I’ve come beyond wishing I was dead in this room. I spent three entire months watching Daria: Is It Fall Yet? on loop in this room because I was too depressed to do anything else. I can still effortlessly recite it word for word. I have had slumber parties in here and drunken sleepovers. I’ve stayed up for 72 hours in here and slept for 24. Where I painted and let my friends paint all over my walls, regardless of skill or intent or design.

This house is where I broke both my arms, where I’ve gotten hundreds of bruises and scratches. Where I figured out the person that I was and learned to love and appreciate her. It’s the house where I always thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do and be and had it turned on its head a dozen times over. Where I figured out that I don’t ever have to know what I want to be when I grow up, that it’s okay to just keep trying things that make me happy and interested.

This is the house where I had parties that lived in legend even though no one ever drank or did drugs, where inside jokes formed and flourished and crushes got the least inventive nicknames. Where I had the “cool parents” and never had a bedtime and learned how to make good decisions because I was given the freedom to make the stupid ones. Where I smoked my first cigarette and had my first kiss… and a bunch of other firsts that I won’t mention because this is a post I know my dad will read aloud to my mom and that’s too awkward even for me.

This is the house where I nourished the three friendships that have kept me alive for the last 10+ (and 19, this September) years, where I sometimes tried to destroy them. Where I turned the newest, fastest friendship I’d ever had into a my first real, important, lasting romantic relationship. (Don’t worry, I’ve spent plenty of time trying to wreck that one too.)

This house is where high school happened.

Including those 18 people and the aforementioned artwork (courtesy of the very talented Bryce and his signature ASB writing and Miriam’s lovely portraits).

This house is where friendship happened.

Where a majority of our TEN annual Christmas parties have happened, including number one, five, and ten.

Where drunkenness happened.

And where I was a baby and a child and an adolescent and an adult. Where I was part of the best family I could’ve ever asked for.

I am going to miss this house, this place where I put my heart for the last 27 years. I’ve lived in other places, but they’ve never been what this house has been to me, what this city has been to me, what this whole place is. I spent my formative years wishing I was anywhere else on Earth and now I’m going to spend the next few wishing I could get back. And that seems fitting somehow. But I know it’ll never be this house again and I know that the people who live in it next will destroy some of the things I have learned to love most about it — the creaking floors and the dated kitchen, the green bathtub, and the 1952 original windows that are a bitch and a half to open — but they’ll make their own memories in it and I think that makes it okay.

It’s in my nature to want to destroy what I can’t have though, so I’ll probably spend the next three weeks fighting every urge in my body to just start smashing things, to upperdeck the toilets, and steal the house down to the studs. But I’ll resist and try to remember it as well as I can instead because it’ll always be the first place I think of when I hear “home,” the first place I ever lived and probably always the longest. It’ll always be, in some significant way, home.

30 Day Meme — Your First Love

Day 2: Your First Love

I’ve talked about her before, extensively, but my girlfriend Crystal is my first love. We had a really weird and complicated courtship because we were friends for more than a year before we finally talked about dating and I thought she was straight and she didn’t think I wanted babies/marriage (I didn’t/don’t, but I tricked her good!) and she made me promise that I would at least consider the possibility of children and marriage before she would date me. (She will say that I am lying and that “it wasn’t like that” but she will be lying through her fake front teeth.)

And then we did like lesbians do and moved in together really quickly. Or, rather, she moved in with me and my parents. Granted, we’d already planned to live together as roommates once we got our shit together, but that still hasn’t happened and we have sex, so I don’t think you can really call us “roommates”.

We’ve been together for two years, three months, and three days. We plan to eventually get married — she cares about the marriage license-y part where I have to legally agree to share my life with her, I only care about the awesome party — but I have a really complicated timeline that I deem acceptable for the development of our relationship and I don’t think we should get married for at least another three years. Or at the very least until we’re not living with my parents anymore. Which will probably be like, ten years at this rate.

I love Crystal because she is funny and smart and generous and takes care of me even though I usually fight her about it. I threaten to break up with her about once a week over both trivial and serious shit. Sometimes I’m joking, sometimes I’m just trying to make her cry. Because I’m a dick.

We like a lot of the same things and we get on each others’ nerves a pretty significant amount, which I constantly have to convince her is normal. (She thinks people who are in ~love~ should never fight or bicker, but let’s get real here.) We live in a 13×12 room together, so we’re on top of each other a lot and it’s hard when we want our own space. I was a SUPER SOLITARY person before we started dating/moved in together, so it is still weird for me to have someone around all the time who wants to hang out with me. I DON’T EVEN WANT TO HANG OUT WITH ME.

She’s pretty big on personal hygiene for herself so she usually smells nice and has soft hair, but is kind enough not to care if I don’t change my clothes for three days or if I have B.O. Also, she laughs at all my jokes, which is REALLY IMPORTANT. And she always supports my writing even if I get all pissed at her because she was TOO ENTHUSIASTIC or NOT ENTHUSIASTIC ENOUGH or MAKING TOO MANY SUGGESTIONS or NOT CARING ENOUGH GOD DAMN IT.

She puts up with my fickleness and my insanity and she buys me stuff ALL THE TIME.

My family loves the shit out of her too, which would be a 100% dealbreaker if they didn’t.

Anyway, she’s my first love basically because she has boobs and she lets me touch them. Usually whenever I want. She’s the best.

More narcissism here.

you turned me into somebody loved

I took this picture of my girlfriend Crystal in August of 2007, just four months after we first met. We were at a barbecue for my family celebrating all the August birthdays (my mom, my dad, and my aunt) and Crystal had come along. My family took to her immediately. We were just friends then, but I knew at this moment, this fraction of a second when I snapped the picture, that I was in love with her.

Now if you want to vomit, you’re not alone. I kind of want to puke all over myself too, but I’m trying to do this post all honest-like and that means there are going to be some ~emotions~ floating around loose on the air. Throw on a swine flu mask and you should make it through just fine.

Crystal is smart and funny and talented and generous and patient and kind and crazy and sweet and clever and loving and beautiful. My friends love her, my family love her, and she loves them back.

She likes my writing and my cooking and my jokes. She ALWAYS LAUGHS AT MY JOKES, which is like the number one thing I look for in a new friend.

She is terrified of everything: bugs, heights, the dark sometimes. It’s REALLY CUTE.

She loves so many of the same things I do and when I want to go out and do stuff she doesn’t, she sucks it up and does it anyway. BECAUSE SHE LOVES ME.

She was my friend first. We were friends for a year and a half before we ever tried dating. Granted, my friends and family were already calling her my girlfriend based on the sheer amount of time we spent together, but whatever. And maybe we did it once or twice. BUT WE DID NOT DATE. We were not emotionally entangled like a couple. And then we were.

And at first it was crazy and everything felt like this:

But eventually we got it figured out and tomorrow will be our second anniversary. (Someday I will tell the story of that faithful “getting together” conversation and how, just as we were starting to have celebratory sex, she got a bloody nose ALL OVER MY CHEST. But today is no day for that.)

I don’t know entirely how we’ve made it this far.

But I love her more every single day. And without her I’d have trouble functioning. My novel wouldn’t be getting written, I wouldn’t be surviving school, hell, I wouldn’t have ever even applied for the MFA program.

I love you, bub. Thank you so much for two amazing years.