Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 24

We took the back seat out of a mini-van and replaced it with a big living room sofa and six of us piled in to go to Annapolis. That was 16+ years ago. I talked with Robin in McCarveys for a while that night. And I haven't stopped thinking about her since.

Some people, when you meet them, you just have a feeling are going to change your life. The more we talked and saw each other that winter and spring (1995), the more it became clear to me that she was that kind of person. We moved in together at the end of the summer.

I barely remember getting engaged three years later, on her birthday, May 24. I remember everything about it--sitting on our deck next to Crockett Brothers Marina in Oxford--but it is blurry, the sequence, the words, what was said. Largely because we had talked about it, getting married, and knew we were going to.

I've talked about it here before, our wedding, our life together, the milestones and years we share. But thinking about Robin this morning, on her birthday, what strikes me are the variables, the almosts. I almost went to the Army, when we first met. We almost moved to Pittsburgh for graduate school. Later we almost moved to Pittsburgh again, for a job. The life decisions, the changes, like having kids and buying a house.

How my memory of her, looking at her now, includes that night flirting in Annapolis, includes moving into four different apartment/townhouse/houses, my college graduation, holding her hand(s) during the births of our girls.

How having a drink on our back deck in the evening can conjure up our drive to Colorado, or Maine, or Asheville, N.C.; a sunset happy hour on the Choptank 16 years ago or last year; time with friends in Cooperstown, N.Y., more than a decade ago or camping on the Pocomoke River, just a couple months ago.

How watching our daughters run on the soccer field, or learn to ride their bikes, or get an A on a test, or playing catch, can make me love Robin, all over, without her even having to be there (though I prefer when she is). 

It hits me that the person who is the most constant in my life is also the person who makes life most interesting. How being together, spending/sharing time with someone also makes me more myself.

It fascinates me that how, getting engaged thirteen years ago today, that I look forward as much to this weekend, to tonight, as I did to time together back then.

It's funny what memory holds on to, how Robin can tell you what people were wearing at any given event or night out seemingly since we met, whereas mine works in odd details and sequences and between the two of us we can generally recreate/rekindle what went down.

Love is an odd bird, how it can lead you by various parts of your body, brain, soul to someone; how you can cross paths after not even knowing of the other's existence for 22+ years and then everything changes and the next 16+ years kick the shit out of the ones that preceded them.

I don't claim or even pretend to know jack squat about life or love, other than to be living them day by day and trying to enjoy and appreciate and recognize them as such.

I think I've recognized Robin since that night in Annapolis, when we first really talked. What I recognize in her is both constant and changing, the same and different, caught up in cliche for not having the right words and a place where words can't walk directly up to.

What I've seen her be to and for me is a perfect complement, that soul that picks up where mine leaves off and that makes mine better and more than it was before I knew her.

Happy birthday, Robin, on what has become one of my favorite days of the year. I always dig finding out how we'll celebrate it, how we'll celebrate you.


Anonymous said...

That... is... AWESOME. Well said, Mike. As we were discussing a few days ago via email (re: zombies, rules for life) a kick-ass partner can make all the difference. I think you found one. And better still, you know it.

Michael Valliant said...

Thanks, TWM! A kick-ass partner indeed can make all the difference. And, by the way, our e-mail discussions (including zombies and rules for life) are stellar. Top notch fodder.