Thirty-Two and Ten
My birthday this year isn’t just a celebration of my thirty-two years on the planet. In our family, it’s also tied up with a celebration of ten whole years that Tim and I have been together as a couple. And the start to that ten years was so very romantic and so…well, you’ll see.
Some of you might remember that our relationship began when, after a three year friendship, we started exchanging emails with one another. Sweet, introspective, revelatory emails. Twenty-first century love letters, as I like to call them.
These emails opened our eyes to one another. They are what inspired me even to consider Tim as a potential love interest. For years, I had even gone so far as to say that Tim and I would have made horrible partners since we were both so stubborn and moody and intense and…well, since we had narcissistic-writer personalities. And Tim always kept his distance because…well, because I dated his housemate for a little over a year. (The webs we wove, yes, they were tangled.)
But when we finally took the chance to write to one another, we discovered a tenderness and kinship that we had never found in anyone else.
It was enough of a kinship that, on New Year’s Eve in 2002, we found ourselves lost in conversation in a crowded bar in Chicago, slow-dancing to that Prince song “Kiss” while all of our friends looked on and wondered, “WHAT is going on with Tim and Kristen?”
And nothing did go on that night. Not even a New Year’s kiss. Nothing, except for an unfolding of what would soon become love.
So a few days later, back at school and getting ready to celebrate my 22nd birthday, I received an instant message from Tim (oh yeah, 2003-AIM style) letting me know that he wanted to drop off a birthday present for me. Looking back now, I know that I should have taken this as a sign that he “had feelings for me.” At the time, however, I was so nervous that all I could do was spin around in circles in my house and wonder, “Does he like me? I don’t know! What do I do?! Roommates! Tell me! Do you think he likes me?!“
And then he knocked on the door. And my heart leapt into my throat. And when I opened the door, in his hands were two wrapped gifts: one, a copy of Jules and Jim, and the other, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks.
Perfection. Just perfection.
Now, in the movie version of this scene, I would have wiped a tear away from my face, thanked Tim for his incredibly thoughtful gifts, and then kissed him on the cheek, which would have then turned into a passionate kiss and then a roll to the credits where you could see clips from our future life together (moving to Chicago! aww, a wedding! moving to Syracuse! aww, grad school life! moving to Columbus! aww, three boys!).
But the real life version looked a little different.
I thanked Tim for his incredibly thoughtful gifts. And in those moments, I had a hunch that he probably, maybe, indeed had feelings for me. But I wasn’t sure. And I liked to be sure about these things back in my dating days.
So I went in for the safe hug–the hug that could have turned into a kiss if the stars were aligned, yet the hug that wouldn’t be terribly awkward if a kiss wasn’t in the stars after all.
Except right in that moment, I dropped the gifts. Dropped that VHS tape (oh yeah) and CD right at Tim’s feet. And this shouldn’t have been that big of a deal. All I had to do was pick up the gifts. Yet in my characteristically awkward fashion, I didn’t just bend over to retrieve said dropped gifts from the floor. I didn’t just say, “Oh, let me get those,” and then stand up slowly to stare deep into Tim’s eyes and profess my love for him with one heartfelt look.
I ALSO DID A FACEPLANT RIGHT INTO TIM’S CROTCH AS I BENT OVER TO PICK UP HIS BIRTHDAY PRESENTS TO ME.
Let that sink in for a little bit.
I faceplanted. Into his crotch. Before I could even go in for the safe hug. Which meant that the hug that did eventually happen was, in fact, terribly awkward, not least of which because there was that whole “Um, did you just put your face up against my penis?” question hanging over our heads.
Mortification and first kisses just don’t go well together, you know? AWKWARD CROTCH FACEPLANTS DON’T TEND TO SET THE RIGHT MOOD FOR LOVE.
And that, my friends, is why it took us a few more days until we finally had our first kiss.
With that being said, it only seems fitting that ten years after that fateful faceplant, we’ll be celebrating our love and our life when Tim’s urologist gets up close and personal with Tim during his vasectomy this Friday. (Bah-dum CHING!)
Here’s to ten more years of love and awkwardness!