On Ten Years

January 7th, 2006

I, along with my three best friends, waited for the boy that I liked (and had recently received intelligence that he was planning on asking me out) in the mall in Lindsay, Ontario. That day, the five of us walked around the mall, and then slowly made our way down Kent street, stopping at McDonalds for mcchickens, Tim’s for french vanillas, watched people “skate” on the ice rink in Victoria Park with plastic bags on their feet (is this a thing?), and finished the night at the Lindsay Movie Theatre, where we watched “Rumour has it”- a rom-com starring Jennifer Aniston about her panicking about her identity so she sleeps with a dude who also slept with her mom and her grandma. Great first date movie, right? Well, in those days we went to the movies for something to do, not to actually see a movie that we were interested in seeing. it was also like $7.50 then so I guess that was okay. Anyway, in that dark theatre, with that sorta lame movie playing, we talked about our feelings for each other, he asked me out, and we kissed. That kiss was really awkward I remember. I moved my head weird at first, and he said “can I kiss you now?” in a sort of exasperated tone, and I said “yes”, and so he did.

That was ten years ago, and that’s pretty crazy when I think about it, but also not at all. It’s only when I look back that far that I realise how much we have both changed. For one thing, I’m a grown-ass woman now. Sorta. But my relationship is in my humble opinion, my biggest accomplishment in my life. How many people can say they’ve been together a decade at the age of twenty-four? (Okay, I can actually think of two other couples off the top of my head but still!) What I think is the most interesting thing is how often we both receive the “wow” reaction from other people. And I guess that it does sound like a long time, and it is a long time. The wow isn’t really the interesting part though. For me, it’s the follow-up question: “how do you do that?”

I never know how to respond to this. We just do. We never broke up, because there was never a need to. We’ve gone through our share of difficult times of course, but we’ve always just come to the same conclusion that a life without the other is not a life we wanted to pursue.

I sometimes wonder how much the distance thing has played a role in our perseverance. From age 14-17 we went to different high schools, had different groups of friends, and lived in different towns. We had a relationship by seeing each other one day a week (no sleepovers allowed then) and spending a few hours on the phone each night. In our first year of college & university, we kept that up, now with part-time jobs thrown into the mix, and way less free time. At least by then we got to have sleepovers. the next year was great because we actually got to live together while we went to the same school. Then I moved to the city, and it was back to a long distance thing, and it’s been the case for the past 5 years.

So I can’t help but wonder: did the fact that we’ve had separate lives give us the identity outside of our relationship that many young people lack, given that peoples identities tend to meld when they spend a lot of time together? I could spend some time wondering if when we move in together (I say “when” because it’s an inevitability now) things will get messed up because we’re not used to spending that much time together, but I really think that it’s unlikely. I think it’s unlikely because by now, we are best friends. For real. More than that actually, I’d say family. He knows my weird side and likes it. he knows my anxious side, and listens and gives advice. He knows the issues I get passionate about and supports that passion. He encourages my creativity, and believes in me. He laughs at my jokes. He does the “little things”.  And more.

I think the emotion I feel the most celebrating this milestone is “impressed”.

I feel impressed with the people we’ve became, and how we’ve grown together, and grown to have each other’s backs, and knowing exactly what that means. I feel impressed with the people we know we’ll become, and I’m looking forward to continuing this journey together. It’s been quite a life.

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