Today is my tenth anniversary with my partner, Jon. Ten years is a long time no matter how you cut it, but for us it’s a lifetime. We got together the fall semester of our freshman year in college, which is to say that we have been together our entire adult lives.
It’s inevitable that when you’re with someone for years and years that they will rub off on you. But, being with someone for years and years starting in late adolescence and early adulthood – that tumultuous time where you’re still figuring out who you are and who you want to be – means the bleed over is especially pronounced. There is no question that I am who I am today in large part because I’ve been with Jon since I was eighteen.
Jon has made me a better person. There is no questioning that. I was a wounded mess when we first got together, and I was, in fact, so thoroughly wounded that I refused to admit I had, perhaps, not emerged from an abusive home life unscathed. I was all rough edges, all sharp, jutting angles, and the years with Jon have smoothed them away. He is safe, and he is stable, and there is so much trust that the wounds have healed and the rough edges have been worn down. He taught me patience, he taught me perspective, and compassion, and he taught me the limits of what is acceptable and what is not. And for all of that I am immensely grateful.
I love him. I always have, and I always will. There’s no question of that. Jon is the foundation of my life, but he wouldn’t have become that if he wasn’t hilariously funny, and tremendously sweet, and odd as hell, and smart as a whip. We are very different people, he and I, but we have within us a deep compatibility that only ever grows stronger. He is lazy, and frustrating, and touchy, but he is really, truly, the best. My favorite.
Ten years together is a long time, but we have decades to go. We have years and years ahead of us. We get to raise our kid together, we get to see each other and laugh and watch awful TV together every day. You know things are good when the idea of forty, fifty, sixty years more with someone feels like freedom.
This poem by Frank O’Hara sums up my feelings nicely:
HAVING A COKE WITH YOU
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles
and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it