This Sunday will mark my first anniversary with the Missus. We’ve lived together for almost three years now (two of those years in sin), and we’ve been a couple for over five years. Let’s go to the timeline for a second, shall we?
(Timeline is revised, heavily edited and inaccurate. Don’t bother trying to correct it; I remember things that way I want to remember them.)
Summer 1999 – I meet the future Missus. Being in a band at the time, I beg her to attend one of our backyard concerts. She shows up and takes the stage for a show-stopping rendition of Green Day’s “Basket Case”. Love blossoms, but she has a boyfriend. What to do?
Autumn 1999 – I begin to spend more time with the future Missus. Knowing that she has a boyfriend, I try to keep emotional distance. Doesn’t go too well. Go crazy and temporarily die. We begin exchanging letters at school.
Winter 1999 – The Missus attends another concert without her boyfriend present. Boyfriend loses it and IM’s me, posing as the Missus. I’m onto him, though, and a typical online slap-fight ensues. Boyfriend dumped, I instantly assume said role. Letter writing increases to three a day.
January 2000 – Following a splendid dinner and conversation at a Fazoli’s in Oshkosh, I drive the Missus to her house, where we share our first kiss in her snowy driveway. As soon as I get home, I go online to talk to her for the rest of the night. From this point forward, we’ve never gone a day without seeing each other.
(When we first met and started seeing each other, it was difficult to find places to be alone. Not because we were up to something, we just wanted to be able to talk to each other in private. I couldn’t afford to take her out to dinner seven nights a week, so we eventually resorted to driving out of town and parking on dead-end streets by cemetaries. I ended up spending more money on gasoline than I ever could on food. This was in the dead of a Wisconsin winter, mind you, so when you’re sitting in an idling vehicle, death is always eminent. We would often shut the old Buick off and freeze, unable to start it up again when it was time to go home. Other times, we would seek shelter from the cold in the band’s practice space, above Ben’s garage. We had to share this intimate space with Ben and Sherry, mind you, so that explains why we’re all so close now. I’ll go no further with this.)
February-July 2000 – We act like any typical High School couple. You know, matching spiked hair, work shirts covered with safety pins, jackets that look like disco balls. We were like Sid & Nancy, only we were smart, good-looking, talented, not hooked on junk and I didn’t eventually kill her. Okay, we were nothing like Sid & Nancy. Leave me alone. I graduated in June, leaving Celia behind to finish two more years of school.
July 2000 – July 2002 – While the Missus finishes up school, I work at the Larsen Co-Op and hold off on college. Mediocre At Best tours all over the state, releses an album and plays with some of our favorite bands at the time. Friends are made, bonds are strengthened, virginity is lost, and engagement rings are purchased.
July – October 2002 – The Missus graduates. I quit my job, take out a huge loan and we move to Sun Prairie. A cat is purchased. Wedding plans begin to get kicked around.
October 2002 – June 2004 – I attend (and eventually graduate) College. Celia gets a job so we don’t starve to death. The wedding plans begin to take shape, and a second cat is purchased. The adjustment of living with someone (along with financial burden) is a bit of a rough patch, but we get through it and emerge stronger.
June 2004 – Me and the Missus get married. The CDP is launched, and the rest of the story is all archived somewhere on this page. We get better jobs, move into a new apartment and collectively exhale.
To put it mildly, I’m a lucky guy. I’m going to get sappy now, so consider yourself warned.
How did I get so lucky as to find someone like you to share my days with? What deeds have I done to deserve someone like you? How can you be so strong as to protect me from myself and everything else? How can your heart be that big?
I don’t play the lottery, because I’ve already won. People like me don’t end up with people like the Missus unless they’re already rich or truly wonderful guys. I’m neither, but she sees more in me than I see in myself. She doesn’t expect me to be perfect, but she actually believes that I could be. This is remarkable, and I lay awake at night and shake my head in disbelief, unaware and amazed that people like her can exist in a world like this.
I’m a flawed human being. I’ve lied. I’ve sinned. I’ve made people that I care about cry. Yet, she forgives and continues to love me, although I know at times that she deserves so much better. She knows me better than I know myself. She’s heard every lame story that I’ve ever told, but each time, she nods and pretends as if she’s never heard it before. On those rare occasions when things become too much for her, all it takes is a kiss and a sympathetic ear to make her strong again. Her will power and clarity are almost superhuman.
I shudder to think about what I’d become without her around. I’d be nothing. My life wouldn’t be worth living. I would hate the person I’d become if she didn’t exist. She has made me someone that I hope to be proud of someday, and I hope that she will be proud of me someday as well. If I knew six years ago that someone like her was going to come into my life, brighten every one of my days and save me from everything that I was doing to sabotage myself, it wouldn’t be believable. It wouldn’t make sense, because I never did anything to deserve it.
Angels protect people. They look out for them, keep them from harm’s way and steer them in the right direction. I don’t believe in angels, but I believe in my wife. She does all those things and more. She keeps me happy and smart; she makes my dinner and folds my laundry. She opens jars when I’m too weak. She keeps my white socks looking their whitest, and she holds me when she knows I need her to. It makes no sense to me why she hangs around, because I could never offer her all of what she gives to me.
I’m not sharing all of this with you to appear sensitive and appreciative (I am, though). I just want to bring to light someone who has made my time thus far something that I never thought it could be. I’m quite simply a better man than I could have become on my own.
A year ago, we got married in the front yard of a haunted bed and breakfast in Minnesota. A psychic was conducting the ceremony, my bride-to-be was sewn into her black dress and I was doing all I could to distance myself from the goings on. Not because they made absolutely no sense to me (they did, actually), but because I couldn’t handle the raw honesty of the moment. This woman could buy me a bigger house every year for the rest of my life, and none of them would add up to the gift she gave me when she let me be her husband.
Happy Anniversary, Celia. You’re everything I’ve ever needed. Thank you so much.