Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 16, 1999

Fifteen years ago today, Dane and I had our first date.

Beer and darts. Nothing special. Exploratory, I supposed, something fun. A diversion with a cute boy.

He picked me up in his hoop-de, a white Impala with red velvet interior. All he needed was some fringe on the headliner and the pimp style would be complete. Auction car, he said, with a shrug, and I wondered how the whole thing would play out.

Then he asked me what I wanted to listen to. I deferred. He played Portishead. Solid choice. My curiosity was piqued.

We pulled up to the bar, and as we were walking in, it happened. As we walked through the door, he reached his hand back,without looking, to take mine. And I fell in love. Just like that. I didn't know it at the time, but that simple gesture from Dane set us on our path. It is the hardest thing to explain, and I promise I won't do it justice. From that moment, he felt like home. Hand in glove. Peas and carrots.

A simple gesture. Maybe it meant nothing to him, but there was something about it, about the way he cared for me in that moment, just entering a room, that spoke volumes.

He is the reason I have my amazing child. He is why I started a school and got my first horse.

Dane is why I am the person I am. Not because he made me be better, faster, stronger, or any different but because he finally accepted every part of the person that I am. Full stop. He never, not once, in our fourteen years together, asked me to change or be someone else. Not even when I was my most awful self. Every bit of me, even the sad corners, the most jagged pieces, were just part of the package for him. Religious people call this "grace," I think. I call it love.

Ours has never been a perfect relationship, but it was real, true, and ours.

Fifteen years is Big Metal Chicken, my sweet. You know why I keep bringing this up.

Today marks one year without you. A really weird coincidence that I didn't get until just a few weeks ago. Hopefully you are surrounded by big metal chickens. Today I hope you have the answer. Today I miss you. Today, Sicily and I are going to Ikea. We are going to eat Swedish meatballs, shop for affordable lighting, and think about you in a beautiful way. Seriously. You would have loved it, although they still haven't made Smaland big enough to accommodate you. We miss you, terribly, horribly, and are profoundly grateful to have loved you so much, each in our own way.

I am profoundly grateful to have known you. All my love to you.