1.17.2015

thirteen years

As the sky grew dark on January 17th, 2002, I sat at the computer in the guest room of my parent's house busily burning the latest of volume of a mix CD set I was working on. This CD set was titled The Aaron Doesn't Like Me compilation and that night, I was creating the 6th disc in the set. They were a series of CDs featuring the saddest songs I knew, mostly acoustic, low budget recordings from independent emo songwriters with the occasional -- and necessary -- tracks by Dashboard Confessional or The Juliana Theory. Mostly I cried while I made them, letting the sadness of the lyrics resonate with me: unrequited love, the pain of seeing the person you love so desperately have no romantic interest in you. Better off just friends? Better off just dead, I would scribble on the front of each of the CDs in black Sharpie -- a la my favorite Keepsake lyric -- feeling a punch to the gut each time.

Just months earlier, in August, I had started the 10th grade at a new school. Before school even began, a tall boy in a Volcom tee and argyle socks pulled up to his knees walked by me. I didn't know him. We made eye contact for about thirty seconds and I told my friend I was in love. She thought I was crazy but probably rightfully so. Between 8th grade and the start of 10th grade, I was sort of addicted to unhealthy, overly intense relationships with boys who weren't really worth the inevitable tears and drama. Of course, I had professed my sheer love for each one of these boys at least once before they left me sobbing in my bedroom wanting to vomit the remnants of my broken heart. And, you know, when a fifteen year old girl is so in love, an eyeroll is usually appropriate. Over the course of the next few days (teenagers work fast, okay?), I found out that this boy played in a punk rock band and somehow, by the start of the following week, he was meeting me in front of the school to give me an autographed copy of his bands album. We became friends instantly. It was the quickest friendship that I'd ever been able to form. I felt him swallowing my entire soul each time he smiled and I knew things were different. "This is going to be the boy I marry," I told my best friend on video. "I'll give you a million dollars if you actually marry him," my best friend replied on video. (I love to rub that one in her face.)

Our friendship reached that point where a relationship felt inevitable. The point where you swear that the world explodes each time their arm brushes yours and you are almost certain they feel it, too. Of course, then it all flatlined. "What do you think of so-and-so? I think she likes me," he said to me one day. I went home and cried until my pillow case was completely soaked through. That's when my mix CD collection came to fruition. That's when I went on dates with boys in hopes he would feel jealous or in hopes I could force myself to care about someone else and forget him. It didn't really work that way. That night, January 17th, 2002, I sat burning my latest mix CD and talking to this boy on AIM (showing my age?). He began to tell me how much he liked me. How much he always liked me. How nervous I made him. How he never knew the right thing to do or say. And then, at 11:36 p.m., he asked me to be his girlfriend. I mean, he asked me over AIM (typical!) but it didn't matter. Nothing else really mattered.

We had our first date at a local show the following weekend. He had just gotten his license but my mother let me drive with him because he had manners and no facial piercings or criminal records and had straight A's in school. We barely spoke that entire first date but, halfway through it, he reached for my hand and that was it. My future was sealed. I told him I was going to marry him and he promised me that he was going to marry me.

---

Through the years, other important dates welcomed themselves into our relationship. I loved our wedding, but I felt that our wedding anniversary date could never make my heart swell with the emotion that our dating anniversary did. Every January 17th that passes, I can still feel myself sitting at that desk burning those CD's. I can still feel myself holding his hand for the first time. I can still feel myself being a fifteen year old girl taken over by such adult feelings, by such deep and immeasurable love.

---

Today marks thirteen years since the tall, handsome bass player in Mr. Varsity asked me to be his girlfriend. Thirteen years since Punxter36 sent an instant message to KissMeImEmo12 asking the most important question that I've to this day ever been asked. We have been through a lot together since those days of driver's licenses and report cards and high school graduations. We have lived through and loved through the unbelievable joys that life brought us and the deepest of pain and heartbreak. In his 11th grade history project, he wrote that he wanted to be a rockstar for a living and spend life out on tour. In real life, he became an accountant who works tirelessly to provide for our family. I am grateful for so much. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to grow up alongside the one true love of my life. Thirteen years later, I can just barely make out he and Ethan singing The Story So Far by New Found Glory during bedtime and, for a minute, my heart swells the way it did that January evening back in 2002.

Teenagers are notorious for making bad decisions. I've made more than my fair share. But that day, I made the best decision I could ever make. There is no one else I would rather spend my life with. There is no one else I would rather grow up with. There is no one else I would rather kiss goodnight every night for the rest of our lives. There is no better father for our children. There is no better husband in this world.

Happy thirteen years, Punxster36. KissMeImEmo12 loves you even more than I did that day when you looked down at me as you passed me in front of Building 7. I'll love you forever with the same desperation and intensity I loved you with all those years ago as I sat in my bed and swore to my journal that I would never survive the pain from not being loved by you in return. You loved me in return all along and you never stopped loving me in return. You stopped wearing argyle socks pulled up to your knees and I stopped wearing a good five inches of black eyeliner but we never stopped loving one another.

And we never will.

It was always you, in my big dreams.

10 comments:

  1. Sweetest story. Sweetest pictures. Whenever you write about high school, it's all too familiar to me. The bands, the emotions. I remember it all. Except I most certainly did not have Punxster36. So glad you did :)

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  3. This is so special! Happy 13 years, what an incredible and long story. I am definitely a believer in "when it's right, it's right" regardless of age/maturity/whatever. I love these pictures! They remind me of my high school days. Ugh. I miss the late 90's/00s!!!!

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