Stephanie and I have actually been an item for nearly five years now (on the 28th of December, if memory serves) and we've had some time to go through a few ups and downs together. We moved in together about nine or ten months after meeting, got engaged about eight months after that and immediately moved across the country.
My whole life I expected to live in Kansas City until the day I die. I really did like that city, and I never imagined I would have a compelling reason to go anywhere else. In high school and even college, there was always a popular sentiment of "I gotta get out of this boring state" that I never subscribed to. A contrarian from a tender age, I decided that KC was the place for me, and I stuck to it for 28 years. And then I met Steph.
I had been in the market for a serious girlfriend for some time. I've never been very smooth with the ladies (still not, ask Steph) but I had managed to wrangle one date in the months before I met Steph. My impressions of the girl were that she was merely an unmolded lump of clay. An uncarved stone which I could shape into anything if I wanted to. I found this completely boring and unattractive. And then I met Steph.
If ever there was a fully-forged person, Steph is it. Opinionated, intelligent, down-to-earth and downright beautiful, she was everything I was looking for. I didn't know I was looking for those things until I had them in front of me, but there they were. And that's been the name of the game ever since.
For me, our relationship has been a process of discovering things about myself that I was previously unaware of, and finding that it's who I've always been underneath. We had a conversation just the other day about a walk I went on through an affluent neighborhood just south of our apartment, and how I gazed in slack-jawed envy at the gorgeous houses hidden in those quiet hills. I have full-on house fever now. I never gave a shit about houses. And then I met Steph.
I used to pile dishes in the sink for days before grudgingly washing them. I used to run errands in the same pajamas I slept in. I used to think putting a few fresh vegetables in a packet of ramen made me a good cook. I used to only do laundry when I ran out of clothes. And then I met Steph.
I used to be content. I was never depressed, rarely overjoyed, just content. A somewhat-less-than-happy medium at all times. I considered myslef very composed. I almost never had strong emotions about anything. And then I met Steph.
I want a beautiful home to share with her. I clean the dishes every day. I put on pants before I leave the house (almost every time). I can bake apple pie from scratch. I do laundry every week.I laugh harder than I should at things that aren't that funny. I get angry. Really angry, sometimes. I cry at movies. I tell people I love them more often. I make an effort to be polite to strangers. I've even *gulp!* hugged some of my dude friends (only a few times).
I'm alive because of Stephanie.
I left home for her, because she is my home.
Before I met her, I didn't feel much of anything. I might have been interested in things, I might have wanted things, but those aren't emotions. Now I feel everything.
And it's a pain in the ass sometimes. Me and Steph? We fight a lot. We don't scream and yell at each other, but we're always disagreeing about something. I used to think that fighting was what makes a relationship weak. But Steph has shown me that fighting is what makes a relationship strong. I know I love her because I can hate her and, dammit, I still love her. We can hurt each other's feelings, and believe me we have the power. And that to me is the surest sign that we care. If we couldn't affect each other, if one of us was growing indifferent, I would be worried.
If you can't go to hell and back with somebody, how well do you really know them? I'm confident that me and Steph can come back from anything. We're always on the same team, even when we're fighting, and dammit, I have to say that feels fucking rad. Sorry for the F-bomb, but it just makes me feel really cool to have a woman like that for my wife.
I realize this whole post has kind of been about me, but that's just the clearest way I can get this point across. Because Steph's best trait isn't the obvious things you think of. Yes, she's beautiful. Yes, she's smart. Smarter and more beautiful than she gives herself credit for, which also means she's humble. Yes, all of that. But what I love best about her is the way she effects other people. Nobody likes Steph. They love her. Nobody has fun with her. They have a blast with her. Nobody quietly disagrees with her. They fight with her. Nobody is insulted by her. They're destroyed by her. She's a human being turned up to eleven.
For whatever reason, she has chosen to see only the best in me. When we met, I was a shabbily-dressed pothead with a crappy job and no plans for the future. Now... well I'm still shabbily dressed, but less so. And I haven't done anything illegal since I met her. I don't even speed anymore. Some people might still call my job crappy because it doesn't bring in a ton of money, but I've literally never been happier. I used to be embarrassed to tell people what I did for a living. Now... I'm a writer. I may not be Hemingway, but I'm a writer. And the future's so bright I gotta wear shades. She brings out the best in me, as she does with everyone who knows her.
And as soon as we get the chance, I want to make more humans with her, because I'm hoping they'll turn out like her. The only contribution I plan to make is to ensure they like heavy metal, Star Wars and beards. If they get those few things from me, and the rest from Steph, they'll be the best people I know.
I used to be half a person. And then I met Steph. I'm hoping that rate of multiplication continues exponentially, because this world will be a better place. I know my world is a better place now that she's in it.
Love you, babe. Happy anniversary.