Anniversary: Five Years of Love, Commitment, Skype, and Video Games

Where’s the next post for the sexuality project?! you may be asking. Don’t worry, they’re coming back: tomorrow! But today is a special day. That’s why I chose to post two more entries from my story and introduce one of its most important characters:
Stuart of the Lovely Locks. The man who became my fiance.

Yes, it’s exactly like this.

July 7, 2007

Stuart asked me out on July 7, 2007, and we went on our first date on my birthday, several days later. (Yep, it’s coming up soon.) Since it seemed silly to have our anniversary on my birthday, we decided to count the moment he asked me out as the beginning of our relationship. On my birthday, I wore a strapless dress (preserved in a box now forever). He wore a t-shirt and jeans. When he saw me, he blurted out that he could go and change if I wanted him to.

I didn’t. Not in any way.

We tried to find a Thai restaurant, since I had never had Thai food, but both of our leads turned out to be closed for business. So we went to Perkins, which at least was open. The hostess must have sensed our jitters, because she found us a secluded booth and gave us both a wink. We blushed and laughed awkwardly for the next five minutes. But talking wasn’t hard – we’d already had months of practice, not just talking, but also writing letters to each other.

The past five years have been very, very eventful. Stuart met me just before I left fundamentalism altogether, but we didn’t start dating for another two years. That gave me time to learn the ways of the world, but also meant that we ended up together for our last year of college, both of us facing graduate school options all over the US. No pressure, right?

We’ve been through a lot. And it has been just the two of us all along – no family nearby, few common friends (since, as a transfer student, I’d failed to attach myself to any groups in college, and I only had time to get to know some of his friends before we all graduated). In the past five years, we’ve been in a long-distance relationship twice, moved in together and moved again, adopted two cats and a dog, entered graduate school (and in his case, nearly finished). We’ve started attending a Unitarian Universalist church. We’ve been abroad (me for a 9 months, him for 3 weeks) and conducted our relationship over skype despite a five-hour time difference. We’ve played World of Warcraft together as an excuse for late nights of talking. We were together when Barack Obama was elected president. We’ve grown, learned, worked through issues (mainly me, dealing with PTSD flashbacks to my fundamentalist days – if you haven’t had flashbacks, believe me, they’re very scary and disorienting). Stuart’s face was the one I sought in the crowd when I graduated from college (in the ceremony after his, even though I’d been done with school since winter). We’ve learned each other’s habits and helped each other improve them.

Five years.

It’s a long time. It confuses me now that there was a time in my life when I didn’t know Stuart. I imagine what it would have been like if I knew him as a kid. We grew up on opposite coasts and somehow wound up in the same tiny college, both friends with my roommate.

We’ll be married by the end of next year.

2013, one of the oddest dates ever.

Sadly, I left England too early to see this glamorous wedding.

Stuart proposed to me in England, right after we’d rung in 2010 underneath Big Ben to the sound of the Black Eyed Peas. It was an accidental proposal (he’d meant to ask me if I’d like him to ask me formally) but it stuck.

This year has me thinking a lot about anniversaries and what they mean. I know that whatever date we pick in late 2013 won’t be the day I think of as our anniversary. We were joined for life the moment he asked me out on July 7, 2007. Will we be “newlyweds” next year? I think not. We’ve already been newlyweds. On our anniversary in 2014, when people ask how long we’ve been married, I’ll probably say “six years.” Because that’s much closer than the truth than “one.”

I’m going to begin a series soon that I’ll update periodically (perhaps once a month?). It’s called Adventures in Egalitarian Marriage. In this series, I’ll talk about what I’ve learned about relationships as I’ve lived with Stuart (new ideas and the old – some of which were horrid and some of which are actually useful!). I’ll talk about wedding planning, too, and what marriage means to me (and us) along the way. You can bet that a girl who walked away from patriarchy isn’t going to be given away by her father or veiled for her wedding day. You can bet that Stuart of the Lovely Locks has some ideas of his own! So what are we going to do?

I’ll tell you, bit by bit, as we figure it out.

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