Saturday, October 29, 2011

six months

Today marks six months that i have been dating my boyfriend. No, it is not our "six month anniversary". Anniversary means the annual recurrence of a significant event. You can't have an anniversary until at least a year has gone by. And no, it is not our "monthiversary", because that is a stupid non-word, no matter what Urban Dictionary tells you.

"Overzealous". Even Urban Dictionary thinks you're dumb.

But six months isn't nothing. That's half a year. That's a whole summer and part of the fall. That's half of my first semester in grad school and half of his first semester as a teacher. That's him directing three shows and me taking on a real job. That's me meeting his family and both of us coming up with excuses to avoid my family. (Kidding. Sort of.) That's me teaching him to knit, him giving me something to write about, me introducing him to the deliciousness of dried apricots, him buying me absurd amounts of flowers. That's both of us moving into our own apartments and becoming real, (mostly) self-sufficient adults.

There's this kid who works in my office and has a crush on me. He is also in the fall musical, for which John is the musical director, so he knows us both. This kid (we'll call him Tad) will often chat/flirt with me while he does some tedious task like stuffing envelopes. Tad often asks questions about my relationship. Recently, he asked me if John makes me a better person. I said that he did. Tad asked how.

When i was younger, i used to sing all the time. In the shower, while reading, while driving, while cooking, while doing laundry, while doing homework. I'd walk around the house singing, or wander in the backyard singing. I sang constantly. But when i got older and left the house, i discovered that this was a weird thing to do. And then i went to college, and between the re-affirmation of the weirdness of that habit and the personal devastation of my parents' divorce, i lost the desire to sing.

Three and a half years went by. I sang when required, in chapel worship services, and occasionally i'd absentmindedly chime in to whatever was playing on my iPod. But by and large, the music was gone from my heart. I was kindly coerced into joining the worship team on my church (church people are really good at friendly coercion), but i sang out of obligation and guilt, not joy.

Then John came along and it was like the sun came out from behind a cloud.

I started singing again because the joy had been returned to my life. But when John told me again and again how much he loved to hear me sing, i began to sing for him.

I also rediscovered my silliness. From about the age of ten onward, i took myself very seriously. They say that those who will be young when they are old must be old when they are young, and when i was a child, i was often called an "old soul". Plus, you know how every group of friends always has an anchor, one rational person to keep things stable? That was me in high school. Being the oldest child and the most mature of my friends combined to make me believe that my stability was one of the best things i had to offer. When i started dating, boys would generally tell me (sometimes sincerely) that my steadiness and maturity were some of the things that had attracted them to me. (They probably didn't even notice that i had huge boobs. Teenaged boys are usually far more interested in serious, sincere girls than their shallow, goofy friends. The fact that i was a C cup when all of my friends were nearly As was just a coincidence.) And then there was the divorce, and i had to be a parent for my siblings, and then i was in college and had to achieve things there, and then i moved into my new apartment and had to be the "dad" all the time.

Except for the occasional sugar-high, therefore, i was serious pretty much all the time. And then i started dating John, and he is absolutely ridiculous. I could create a whole separate blog just to tell stories about John. Let's just say that, while it has been well-established that i can't be left unsupervised or taken out into public, John is no better. We sort of take turns being the other person's caretaker.

But that's the thing: he showed me that silliness does not necessarily equal immaturity or irresponsibility. You can be a fully-functional adult and still be carefree and goofy. I still pay my bills on time. I still go to work every day and am productive. I still complete my homework assignments, wash my dishes, and take care of my cat. I just do it while stubbornly taking a detour to walk in the dirt, or loudly singing nonsense ad-libbed songs, or wrestling John back into bed so i can have a few more minutes in his arms before he has to leave.

In so many ways, John has brought joy into my life. He has helped me rediscover parts of myself that i thought i'd put away for good. In the last six months, i have been happier, healthier, and more fulfilled than i can remember being at any point in the last eleven years. And if we break up tomorrow, i will still be a better person for having known him.

In only six months, he's made me a better person, and he's done so in a way that ensures that my self-improvement and growing happiness will continue long after he is gone (if we break up, which i'm certainly not anticipating at this point). And if, somewhere far down the road, we get married, i know that my life will continue to improve because of his presence in it. He hasn't changed me. He has made me more "me", a better and truer and more grounded version of myself.

Being with him is easy. And not easy in the sense that there's no work involved. It's easy the way that writing poetry is easy: even when i'm sweating blood because i've spent the last three days trying to fix the meter in one line, it never crosses my mind that this is difficult or boring. And even if i wanted to, i couldn't stop writing poetry. It's just something that i do, something that i can't imagine not having in my life. It's worth the effort, and even the toughest parts are euphorically enjoyable.

Here's to the next six months. And the six after that, and the six after that, and the six after that . . .

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