It’s two days past Valentine’s Day. There’s a blanket of snow on the ground and I’m at home with my best friend. I wanted to take a little time to brag about her.
I met Donna in 1979 (correction, I am informed it was January of ’80), started seeing her in 1980, moved in with her by the beginning of 1981, and we’ve been together since. She is, simply, my best friend.
Of all the things she has done for me, the one that mattered most was that she simply accepted me. For who I was (whatever that may have been at any given moment) and supported me in anything I wanted to do. When she discovered that I wrote, she read what I had done and encouraged me to pursue it. That led, of course, to everything since. I wonder sometimes had we known how difficult it would have been, would we have done it. The writing, that is.
But it would not have mattered to her, not much. If I had really wanted to, she would have done what she could to help.
And help she did. I have friends, but I do not think I’ve ever known one so limitless.
For a time, I still thought I might pursue the photography. We actually did the ground work to open a new lab once. But the more the writing took hold, the less interest I had in that, even though I was good at it and when it came to Day Jobs, it was one that supported us for almost 30 years.
I’ve written about her before, but I wanted to say more this time. We’re coming up on 41 years. To be honest, it took me a while—longer than it did her—to realize what we had, to come to the conclusion that she was the One. I’d been through a very bad break-up and I was gun-shy, tender in spots, and unwilling to either hurt or be hurt again, so I was, perhaps, too cautious.
She waited. And every year since, I’ve had cause to be grateful.
We’ve lived in three places. She had her own apartment first, and I moved in with her. (When I told my parents, dad’s reaction was “It’s about time.” They knew before I did how important she was.) Then we found an apartment on Grand Avenue, where we solidified, partied, laughed, made plans. It was from that apartment that I went to Clarion in 1988. Six weeks away, the longest we’ve ever been apart.
We took each other for granted. Both of us, with the other. Any relationship that lasts any length of time will have that about it. In a way, the fact that you can do that is a testament to how much trust—unspoken trust—you have with each other. But we always realized it and compensated and renewed what we had.
If this begins to sound unreal, forgive me. Some things, when reduced to words, do seem improbable, unlikely, too good to be true, pretentious. I can’t help that. It is easier to make tragedy and pain convincing sometimes more than joy. More difficult is to make contentment and safety sound either convincing or compelling, but that is a failure of the language and the culture in which we live, one that prizes shock over calm, at least when it comes to what entertains us.
So we celebrated another Valentine’s Day together, our 40th. I think she still loves me. Always best to check. In any event, she’s here. She is my home. It is one of my motivations to make her proud of me, to make her feel safe with me, to make her laugh, to help her. We are very different when it comes to talents and proclivities. (It is best we clean house and so forth apart from each other.)
This lockdown has been a struggle. In some ways, we’ve had to find new strategies to not get on each others’ nerves. As time passes, it wears. But then, it occurred to me recently that we haven’t had too much trouble with that. We’re…comfortable…with each other.
There’s not a lot of activity in the going out department. We have movies. I’ve taken up reading aloud to her, so we share a book simultaneously. It’s a pleasure. But boy, when the worst of this passes, there are places I want to take her. She is a private person and doesn’t like to show off, but I like to let people know how special she is.
I have always found her incredibly sexy.
So here I wanted to brag. I have a partner, a companion, a sweetheart, a lover like nobody else. Remove her and you lobotomize me. If I am anything in this life, it is because she found something and breathed life into it and said “Hey, you should do this.”
My parents recently celebrated their 67th anniversary. They had known each other a year or so before marrying, so let’s say almost 69 years for them. I like the idea of spending another 28 years with Donna. It will not be dull.
We travel well together and have been many places and will be many more places. It is a journey I relish. Even the strange new worlds of imagination have given us many places to visit together. (We started going to science fiction conventions in 1982. We even tried out costuming a short—very short—while.)
I’m rambling. I’m feeling nostalgic. For the past, certainly. I like the idea of Quantum Leap, being able to dip in and out of our timeline at various points. I’m trying to think if there’s anything I would change. Minor stuff, to be sure. Regret is part and parcel of engagement, if for no other reason than you can’t do everything you want to do, no matter how little sleep you get.
So I’ll wrap this up now. I’ll leave a couple more pictures below. I appreciate your attention.
I hope you all have found or will find your lifelong valentine.
Have a good life.