One year ago todayÂ I met you for the first time â€“ lunch on a sunny February afternoon. The restaurant was inside a trendy “arcade” type mall, all rough hewn timbers and grass fed meat counters. At the back of the building, lined by a wall of tall warehouse windows, the restaurant nestled, whitewashed with white linen table cloths. You sat on a bench outside waiting for me. Your blonde hair was tousled, and you were dressed in what I now know was your finest – a dark purple shirt with some sort of pattern, jeans and dress shoes. You had that same smirk as the Match.com photo, the one that somehow captures the essence of you, the “Yup, I’m here and I’m not going anywhere” smirk that always makes me smile. The one word that came to me when I saw you was “adorable.” You will probably hate knowing that.
My immediate impression was that you were young. Too young for me. I already knew this of course, but in person you seemed like a teenager. But as we talked, I saw that deeply intelligent man inside your teenaged veneer. You probably didn’t notice that I watched your hands. They were rough and scarred and the fingernails were non-existent. I admired those hands. “This is a man who works hard and works passionately,” I thought. I could tell the passionate part by all the scabs. You would say the scars and scabs had more to do with lack of skill than your passion, but I disagree. You are a passionate man. We enjoyed our lunch and neither of us wanted it to end so we continued our date at a coffee shop, filling in each other about our lives. When it was time to leave, you climbed on the Gold Wing motorcycle that your father willed to you as a sort of joke, and I laughed as you drove away looking like a little boy on your dad’s huge bike.
I assumed you would find my life of teenagers and houses and writing one of little interest. I assumed as a younger man going on a date with an older woman, that you just wanted sex. (Haha!) That had been my experience with younger men. But this was not the case with you. Well maybe it was a little, but I’m not going there. OK, maybe I will later…
Our second date of sushi and a suspect Spider Roll, we talked through our differences. You said I was “refined” and “classy,” qualities I sensed made you uncomfortable. I assured you that I was more than those things, but I understood. Â You suggested we be friends. I agreed. I can’t tell you if I was disappointed or just resigned to the idea.
On our walk a few weeks later, we talked of the firefighter-9/11 widow irony. You later told me you thought you were telling me “full speed ahead” as far as our relationship went, where I thought you were reiterating that you just wanted to remain friends. Again, I understood your desire to be friends. And I could see that we would become friends, no matter what.
That day on the slopes with C, as he mimicked you when you shoved your poles under your leg on the way up on the chairlift and followed your over every jump, something in me expanded and all I wanted was to hold your gloved hand in mine. You were on your best behaviour in front of C, but I still thought it was just friends you wanted. For the first time, I was a little sad about this. I was surprised when you crashed landed at my feet at the end of the day, even then not realizing you were flirting with me.
Only later that night when you clutched my bare foot in your hand did I finally get it.
A whole year has gone by and despite a broken knee and the death of a wonderful dog, you have stood solidly beside me. You have set the slow and steady pace with your “Yup I’m here and I’m not going anywhere” smirk. You have come into our family quietly and without fanfare and have managed to guide us with your wisdom, your uncanny connection to your inner 13-year old and shown us such happiness that I had given up hope was ever again possible. I hope we have shown it to you as well.
I look forward to another year, many years of adventures with you beside me holding my foot, wearing your “Yup I’m here and I’m not going anywhere” smirk.
I love you.