This is certainly long overdue, but I feel it necessary to brag about my amazing husband for a bit, so if you get queasy over that sort of mushiness, this post is not for you.
I used to think I knew what a good relationship consisted of, based on my observations of other "perfect couples" and the experience I had with my ex. However, once that relationship died, I saw that we were not, in fact, a perfect couple. Not even close, even though we appeared to be from pretty much all who knew us. Or at least, if they thought there were detrimental flaws, they didn't express as much to me. We didn't fight. We went out a lot together with our friends. We had (what I thought at the time were) open lines of communication, even about the sticky subjects. So, it took me MANY years to realize that the relationship was doomed, but once I did, I was out the door lickity split. No use prolonging the inevitable.
Thus began the craziest and most wonderful year of my life. In July 2005, after cutting ties in State College and trying to save what little money I could, I haphazardly threw as much of my belongings as I could gather into my car, and drove to Delaware to meet up with Leslie (one of my lovely BFFs) and her fiance and friends at a weekend party being thrown to introduce the attendants of their wedding to each other (it was happening almost exactly a year later, and I was a bridesmaid). Even though all of this was going on with her, when my life turned upside down and I didn't know what to do with myself, her response was simply, "well, I have a couch." And with that, I was moving to Brooklyn! We drove from Delaware at the end of the weekend into New York in a torrential downpour, which seemed to fit my sense that I was washing myself clean of the past and starting fresh in the one place I had always dreamt I'd live. Since I was carting the smokers in my car, I must have nervously inhaled half a pack while trying to stick to Leslie's bumper like glue (I even tapped it at one point and got a phone call from her saying "I said stay close, but not that close!"). Finally arriving, they made room for me in their house and their lives for six weeks and always. I quickly found a job, and shortly after, with Leslie's help, an apartment. If you had told me ten years ago that any of this would have transpired, I would have probably laughed in your face, but though wistfully, "damn, that would be sweet."
The room I rented was in a very nice, remodeled house with what turned out to be perplexing roommates. I worked crazy hours with people who would never be my friends (too young / weird / geographically inconveient) and scraped money together to make myself something pitiful to eat at the end of the day. Cooking for one is harder than you think, especially on a tight budget. I cried... a lot. I did manage to make one friend, Maya, an Israeli bartender/waitress at the neighborhood French restaurant where I would hide after work in an effort to avoid my roommates and my way-too-quiet bedroom (to which I was basically confined since the tv was stashed in another bedroom and it was seriously frowned upon to sit on the white couches in the living room, blurg). I was so disappointed that I had finally made it to New York, but coudn't figure out what to do with myself. Leslie and Brian were there, but comfortable with staying home, and also in wedding-planning mode, which I now know is incredibly all-consuming at times. In telling Maya about all of this, it was brought to my attention that I should go to Moe's and meet all of the neighborhood regulars. Apparently, it's a pretty cool bar and I vaguely remembered one of my coworkers at the bank mentioning it. It was mere blocks from my apartment, but since I had no idea where I was going in general, I had never even ventured over that way. At any rate, I went that Saturday night and sat down next to Justin, and the rest is history.
To say that we hit it off is a massive understatement, but I was afraid. I had only gotten out of a ten-year relationship less than six months prior, and I was so unhappy that I warned him that if it didn't get better, I was planning to move back home by the end of the year (we met in late October) and figure out my next move. Basically, I told him he really didn't want to get involved with me because I was a hot mess. Clearly, he didn't listen. We spent more and more time together, and due to my crappy roommates and his better apartment location, I stayed over more often than not. Four months in, when his roommate situation had become equally unbearable, we got wind of an apartment opening up. We took one look and they offered it to us on the spot (though I didn't really understand what had just gone down and Justin had to explain it to me, lol! Things move pretty fast in the city.) I took a deep breath and jumped in head first and moved in with my new boyfriend. Sure, it was probably insane, and I know my family was concerned, but once they met him, they trusted that I was making wise choices for myself and would be just fine.
Now, more than six years later, we have grown a lot, both individually and as a couple, and helped each other through life's challenges. We are truly equal partners. If I ever thought I knew what a good relationship was supposed to be like, I now realize that I didn't have a clue. I have one now. We are kind to each other and consider the other's feelings like second nature. We disagree, but don't fight. There is a balance in our differences that makes us work. He makes me want to be more patient and I encourage him to be more assertive. We're that disgusting couple who want to spend every possible moment together and never get tired of it. I love his face. It says so much to me beyond just physical features.
But besides all of that, we just have fun together. How sad it is to me to see couples who have forgotten how to have fun together! And there are so many people living this way. Life gets complicated. You go to work, you have kids, you pay your taxes... and it can all suck the joy out of you if you're not careful. Remembering that the family we are creating and the day-to-day lives we lead are all a product of a boy and girl meeting and falling in love is essential. Otherwise, what's the point?