|From our first Valentine's Day together, in Tunica, MS, in 2003|
I was 15 when I got taken out on my first date. We went to see Armageddon at the movie theater and to Waffle House afterwards for omelets. I was extremely nervous and bright red the whole time. I wanted to hold his hand during the movie, but I didn't. When he came to pick me up in his beat-up car, he opened the car door for me. He did it again at the theater and at the late-night greasy spoon, and his front seat was one long seat with the vinyl coming up in places. It was a real old car. He probably played Blonde on Blonde or Beck on the way there. I thought everything he played was brilliant. I wanted to hold his hand then too but I didn't.
We dated for three weeks. Afterwards he told me that it was sort of a deal-breaker that I hadn't scooched over to unlock the driver's door after he let me into his car. I was heartbroken. I totally could have opened his door, I thought. That would have been no big deal! I had just been so nervous and afraid of being myself.
Later, in college, there were more rules to remember to follow with other boys. No opening your eyes while kissing. That was always a bad sign. Don't forget to light his cigarette for him and don't dare give him the love poems that you write about him. How creepy would that have been?
Then I met Nekos. And there were no rules. I just got to be me and he got to be him. He has never made me feel that I needed to be anyone else or anyone more but he has always inspired me to be my best. Eight years in to this magical, fulfilling, reaffirming relationship, I am more in love with him than ever. And the cool thing is that we are quite a bit different than we were eight years ago. I was 19 when I met him and he was 22. Now he's an old man at 30 (while I remain terrifically young) and we have a little girl who makes our future seem more exciting than ever.
I'm so thankful that he didn't freak out when I gave him a whole notebook of poems I'd written about him just a few months after we'd started dating. He just thought: She must really like me. I really like her too. She might be the one.
And, when I forget to unlock his car door, which I do most of the time, he thinks it's totally no big deal.
Nekos, I love you. Happy Valentine's Day!