It all started on the suggestion of a Greek who had more intuition than either of us realized. A simple suggestion placed in our heads in his half-joking, good-humored manner. “You’re both single, maybe you two should hook-up.”
But the truth is, it started before then, it started thanks to the love of music created by a little-known singer from an eighties band named after the dog from the Wizard of Oz. His name was Joseph Williams and I often found myself enjoying his sometimes smooth and occasionally soaring tenor. I enjoyed it to the point that I found myself creating a website for the guy. A web page that the aforementioned Greek stumbled upon one day while surfing the web from his home in Illinois.
The Greek and I talked more and more, we shared stories of our lives and our less than good luck with the fairer sex—two nice guys who were lamenting our last place finishes in the race of love. He remained single while I alternated from dating for the wrong reasons or dating the wrong women for the right reasons.
One day when I was nursing the wounds of a broken-heart caused by a girl named after a Barry Manilow song, the Greek suggested that, hey, maybe I should hook-up with a fine British lass who, at the time, had an equally grim outlook on the more boorish gender—the gender of which I’d been a card carrying member of ever since that stage of conception when a sperm carrying the Y beat a bunch of others with the calling card of the X.
At his suggestion… a few keystrokes in search of a kindred spirit and a magical click on the send key started me on a new adventure in life—an adventure I continue to live every day. A treasure chest of memories yet to be created, inside jokes yet to be shared in private stolen moments together, and stories to be shared with children not yet a gleam in our eyes was opened with that mouse click.
That mouse-click turned into a phone call and that phone call multiplied to a daily occurrence where we shared tales of our lives before. We filled each other in on our little anecdotes and started creating new ones of our own over the static of the two-hundred plus miles that separated us. A bond started to grow…
One day a Cadillac with one Greek and one Brit pulled into the parking lot at my apartment complex in the suburban jungle known as Elyria, Ohio. Over the course of the weekend bonds were created and strengthened. Faces were given to voices I’d heard before. We tested each other’s boundaries and tempers our first full day together. We took a boat to a not so far away island in Lake Erie. We puttered around the island in a golf cart, enjoying the sights, the sounds, and the general ambience of the tiny island before our return trip to the mainland.
Care packages with books and music were exchanged, trips were made between Ohio and Chicago. The phone conversations continued, the bonds grew stronger, and decisions were made… Decisions that included a big step for me… A move from the safety net I’d been living in; a safety net known as suburban-Cleveland. So, I packed up, sold my car and traveled the roads of Ohio and Indiana… across land much flatter than I’d grown accustomed to growing up and found myself once again in a city I considered to be home.
So I moved most of my things into a chilly storage locker in an all-too-difficult to find location in the Chicago suburbs, location that couldn’t quite make up its mind where it was. And the rest of me, well it ended up in a cozy apartment in Wicker Park. A cozy apartment where the footfalls of the upstairs neighbors were magnified to the volume of a herd of elephants, and the instant messages sent to our neighbor’s computer below echoed not only through their apartment but ours as well and every ten to fifteen minutes we couldn’t help but hear the soft rumble of the El trains that Chicago was famous for.
We shared special moments in that apartment; ideas and plans for a future together and we continued to get to know one another more with each passing day. At night we would slow dance to the light of her gas fireplace.
After Christmas we found ourselves looking for a new home in the Chicago suburbs. The lease was about to expire, and an even bigger step was about to be taken. So we packed up over the end of January and through February and in a mad rush, again with the help of our Greek friend, we moved from that cozy little apartment in Wicker Park to a more spacious locale to the west.
Even after we finished moving there was a lot of work to be done—the grueling and often time-consuming process of unpacking. With her working all day I had plenty of time and space to tackle the mess—okay, well maybe not space. But I didn’t have to be at work for several more hours. I shut down my brain and methodically started unpacking box after box, breaking them down, putting stuff away. I felt like I was accomplishing something, even if the apartment didn’t look it.
It got to the point where I was using my newfound powers of telekinesis to unpack even while I was at work. Unfortunately, those powers weren’t well honed and the Brit came home one night to find all of our silverware bent into the shapes of Australian wildlife. She was particularly upset about a serving spoon that had suddenly become a duck-billed platypus.
In all seriousness though, we were taking a new step in our lives together, a big one. The next step would be the big “M.” A step we were both willing and ready to take, but at the same time it was big and somewhat intimidating. This was the first really adult relationship for each of us. We’d unclasped the safety net of our youth and were caught in the trapeze act called “adulthood.” So she went to work every day while I pounded the pavement looking for a second source of income, a bigger paycheck to go into our very tiny pot of gold. Wait who am I kidding, the bill collectors got our paychecks and left just enough so we could afford to eat and occasionally spoil ourselves with an evening out.
There was no pot of gold, just an oil drum full of the harsh realities of life and little post-it notes to remind us we weren’t children any longer.
In place of that non-existent cash, we did have a tremendous level of love and devotion for one another. Little things like wrapping an extra blanket on one another when we happened to be cold, cooking one another’s favorite meals for dinner, getting Hallmark cards for one another for no other reason than to turn less than perfect moments into really special ones. But the best gift we would give one another—on those days when Murphy’s Law happened to be over kind to us—you know the days plagued with more misfortune than usual; the rip your hair out, scream at the top of your lungs days—first we’d just shut up and take turns listening to one another vent. Eventually that would lead to us making one another laughing at our folly. It was almost as if to say, “Hello life, you gave me your worst today and not only did I survive it, I’m laughing about it.”
So she and I would share one another’s joy and we’d share one another’s pain so neither of us would have to take on the weight of the world alone. We were and are each other’s best friends, confidants, and even one another’s easy-chair psychologists when circumstances required it. Every day that love and understanding of one another grew and continues to grow. If our love were a plant, it would be safe to say that we’d each have green thumbs.
There are days when we really can’t stand one another. All those annoying little quirks and foibles that drive us near the point of drink—the forgotten toilet lid left up, the innocuous and foul odor my body would choose to expel at the most inopportune moments, the blankets hogged or ripped away in the dead of a chilly night, and the days when we just can’t seem to get it right in one another’s eyes. We give each other the time and space needed to let it blow over and come away from it realizing that we don’t love one another just for the good—but that we love one another for the less than pleasant as well. It’s the little quirks that make us who we are and without them we wouldn’t be the same people who fell in love with one another.
Every day we wake up to the soft glow of each other’s smiles keeping one another warm even on the chilliest of nights. Our displays of affection grow more frequent but still seem just as new and exciting as they did when we first met. And those smiles, which once merely crossed our faces, now come from a much deeper place—the depths of our souls.