Erica and I have been together since right before I turned sixteen-years-old. Both of us had just gotten out of relationships that ended poorly, as most teenage relationships do, and neither of us was looking to get close to anyone new, especially her since she flat-out refused to give me her phone number for a while. Eventually, I won her over. Though we had originally met in person, she was still living in New Jersey at the time, so we knew that if we were going to do this, it would have to be long-distance for an unspecified amount of time. I was nervous but there was something about her I couldn’t get over or get passed, so I told her I was in it, if she was (and luckily for me, she was).
We spent the next year-and-a-half talking on the phone and online and visiting each other during school breaks. I spent most of that time fearing the relationship would end or that we’d fight all the time, but neither of those things happened. She’s a little older than me, so as her graduation was coming up, she began making plans to move here. Small-town, up-state New Jersey wasn’t exactly rife with solid employment opportunities and she wasn’t sure she wanted to go to college, so moving to South Florida seemed like a golden opportunity to not only find a fairly decent job (which she did) and get out of her mom’s house but also to be with me.
Not too long after, I graduated, too, and since I was a college student and no longer really welcome at my mom’s house, we decided to get our own place together. I’m not going to lie and say those first few months were easy, because they weren’t, but they weren’t awful either. There was a lot of frustration and busyness and financial failure but there was also a lot of private dancing in the kitchen, preparing meals together, and having sex without worrying about someone coming home or hearing us. We spent most of the daylight hours away from one another and most of the night trying to make up for it. There were (and sometimes still are) a few little arguments about misplacing each other’s things in an attempt at reorganization and few big arguments about someone (usually me) forgetting to do laundry or not paying a bill. But for the most part, everything was (and continues to be) really great.
Since this relationship began almost nine years ago, we’ve seen each other burp, fart, go to the bathroom, struggle with our parents and siblings, graduate from college, max out a credit card, buy new cars, work shitty jobs, have what seems like month-long PMS, encounter huge disappointments, lose friends, make new friends, grow exponentially through the ups and especially the downs, and so many other things. I mean, she’s even seen me shit my pants on more than one occasion (it’s a couple of long stories, really). And even after all of this, we still have an extremely healthy sex life that seems to only get better as the years go on.
All love is special, but there’s something unique about, essentially, growing up with your “soul-mate” that I can’t properly put into words. Johnny Marr almost has it with this thought: “When we met in ‘79, I was just 15, she was 14. My hormones were not so much of a distraction because Angie and I went full-time straight away. She wanted me to be who I wanted to be and she wanted to be with me to do that,” but there is still something missing in that explanation. I’m sure as I keep living this life, as I keep loving her, I will eventually come up with something that fills in the gaps of Johnny Marr’s explanation.
Right now, though, I can say that we’ve grown together as a couple and individually to become the people we are. We always tell it like it is and we trust each other without question. Though there are few, there are still arguments, but they serve a purpose, they bring us closer together and help us learn how to communicate properly with one another. We don’t leave things unresolved and we definitely don’t go to bed angry.
When I was seventeen-years-old, I brought Erica to this spot on Ft. Lauderdale beach and asked her to marry for the first time (in about a billion more times I’d ask that question over the course of our relationship). I didn’t have a ring and I didn’t get down on one knee, I simply asked her if she’d like to be with me forever. She said she wouldn’t want it to be any other way. Since then, we’ve both struggled with money and I was never able to buy her or even save for a proper engagement ring until late last year when I began saving for the one I posted here over the weekend. On Saturday, I brought her to the same spot and gave her the ring. This time, I didn’t need to ask her to marry me. This time, I told her that as far as I’m concerned, we’ve been married since I was seventeen-years-old and this ring wasn’t a new promise, but a reinforcement of a promise we made years ago in that very same spot.
She said she wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
My friend suggested today that I’m pregnant with love lately as a reason for why everything remotely happy is making me cry. Between my wedding, any number of excellent things going on, and now this, two of my dearest friends, my family, getting married, I just can’t.
Stef and Erica taught me by example, by having a marriage for years before they even put a ring on it, they taught me what it meant to be kind and patient with the person you love, how the right person, your person, was out there and was worth waiting for, worth fighting for. They showed me what a marriage was a long time ago, before I even met Ian, before I ever thought it was possible that someone would want to love me forever, would want to face everything life has to offer with me till death do us part.
No one deserves happiness and love as much as they do, no one understands happiness and love the way that they do. Congratulations (and thank you from the bottom of my heart) to two of my favorite people; FINALLY!!!