On January 14th, Jonathan and I celebrated our 8th anniversary of being together, but we didn’t actually have our first official date until Valentines Day — exactly eight years ago today.
The story of us finally getting together is a weird one, mostly because it took us so damn long. In a way, I see it as a cautionary tale for nervous people, the moral of the story being: Just tell the person you like how you feel. The result could potentially be the best thing that’s ever happened to you…
It was 2009 and I was living in Seattle (alone and broke); he had returned from an MA program in England and was living with his dad in Santa Barbara. In college, we’d spent a good two years flirting (with many late nights talking about anything and everything) and all that sexual tension culminated in our first kiss (finally!) just 3 weeks before graduating. Our initial thought was this is it — but truth be told, it was a rocky time for us both, and things didn’t end smoothly due to lots and lots of feelings/factors.
Then, I moved home.
It’s funny looking back on that time in our lives, because we really were so silly and foolish and — as my roommates would admit, without much prodding — annoying.
For all intents and purposes, things felt very much over between us, basically before they ever got started. Nevertheless, in 2009, during my first full year in Seattle, Jonathan drove up and visited me three separate times. Each time there was tension and secret thoughts of making something happen again, but each time neither of us did or said a thing.
By this point I had decided I didn’t want to have a relationship with him because we really were such good friends and I simply did not have time for someone not willing to make his feelings known. (Pot, meet Kettle.)
That said, I was still fairly sure he had lingering feelings for me — confirmed by the phone call I got from him as the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve 2010. I was at a concert in Seattle, he was in Las Vegas, both of us were drunk, and he was stumbling through an attempt to find out… basically how I was doing. Even without overtly saying what he wanted, this was easily the most emotionally revealing he had been with me, and I remember turning to my friend and going “Uh oh. What do I do?”
Then, exactly two weeks later on January 14, 2010, I received a letter from him over Facebook. I say “letter” and not “message” because this was a letter, you know, the kind you can tell was written (and edited, then re-edited) in a Word document first. I saw it in the morning while at work and oouu boy, did it take me by surprise.
I won’t post the whole thing here, because some things are best left private ifyaknowuddamean, but here is the pared down version with all of the super nervous/shy/ultra personal parts (so, like, 87% of it) removed:
I like you. I don’t know why that’s such an awkward thing to say, but it is. I like you, and I’ve liked you for a very long time…
I’ve been thinking about you a lot in the past few months. I called you on new years eve because, honestly, the only person I wanted to be with on new years was you…
I care for you a hell of a lot, and think you are an amazing person who is interesting and funny and creative and beautiful and kind and intelligent — and honestly, no one in my life makes me smile quite like you do.
I want to give being with you a chance, even if it’s not easy. I feel if I don’t at least try I’m going to regret it for the rest of my life.
Fun fact: the same day I received Jonathan’s letter (what is now our official anniversary) I actually had a date with someone else. I could have cancelled it, but in all honesty I didn’t know how I felt or what I really wanted… that is, not until mid-way through my Pad Thai, face-to-face with a very sweet man who, it turns out, I just wasn’t that into because I couldn’t stop thinking about Jonathan and how desperately I wanted this date to end so I could tell him Yes.
That night, immediately after my date, I wrote Jonathan an even longer letter to tell him just that.
(OK, I know what you’re thinking: You wrote to him? Yes. I wrote and didn’t call because, well, have you been paying attention so far? We’re talking about two very silly, nervous, self-conscious losers here — people who can’t verbalize their wants and needs to save their own lives and had never been in real relationships before, so cut me some slack, k?)
It was almost a month before he was able to come and visit me in Seattle. By that point, a thousand texts and dozens of phone calls had taken place. He arrived and we picked up like our relationship had already been established for years.
On Valentine’s Day 2010, Jonathan took me on our first date — Italian food and wine at the delicious and romantic (and, I’m devastated to learn, no longer in business) Brad’s Swingside Cafe in Seattle’s Fremont district.
I knew that night I was in love with him.
Three months later, he moved in with me.
Thank you for being the brave one and writing to me all those years ago. In some ways I lament the time we wasted being so dumb, but I know it helped us be as sure as we were about taking that leap beyond friendship.
I’m blessed to be spending our 9th Valentine’s Day together which have more than made up for the 23 previous ones we spent alone. In addition to being the love of my life, you’re my best friend; eight years, lots of furry babies, and one Fayby later, you are still the person I want to spend my time with and talk to above anyone else.
I love you, always, more and more every day. Let’s keep eating pasta, making babies, and living out our dreams together. What do you say?
(Top photo: Gay Pride selfie — June 2010)