I have, historically, been a firm believer in the concept of “love at first sight,” as dangerous a thing as relationship experts say that belief can be. I’ve made mention of my synesthesia before, and how my perception of life might have been rather different if I had grown up in the age of the Internet where one can learn of these things before thinking you’re crazy. One of the manifestations of it was to feel a strong emotional reaction to a person’s “colors” as they spoke, and I could find myself liking or despising people off of that. In some cases I would encounter what seemed to me at the time to be beautiful souls, whose luminescence was so appealing it pleased the senses just to listen to them talk, and I would become smitten. Sometimes it was crush level, and in some cases it was full-blown pining. And, I must admit, more than one rewarding relationship was unfairly undermined as I tried to move past the poetic unrequited love bulls**t into dating a handful of these wonderful, beautiful souls, yet to whom I ultimately could not give 100% of the effort they deserved due only to the uncontrollable fact that they did not give off exactly the right beacon of light for me.
Still, I have to give such beacons some credit. You probably know of someone who talks about how “they just knew ‘it'” when they were with the right person. For me, ‘it’ was apparently some form of ethereal Pantone swatch, but it did lead me to Becky true enough. It poured out plain as day the first time we spoke to each other in class. Introduction to Religion. RELI 101. 8:00-8:50 M-W-F. Freshman year.
Although I had seen it before that.
It was welcome week, and classes hadn’t started yet. A group of new arrivals were hanging out in one of the dorm rooms playing this odd board game that came with a VHS tape which played alongside the game session. It played atmospheric music most of the time, but then at random an old crotchety game master would appear and holler “STOP!” and then something like “Whoever’s turn it is right now has been CURSED, and must lose their next turn!” The game was well in session before I arrived, looking for my roommate who was the only person I knew so far, really, and was far more outgoing than I was, which generally applies to ninety percent of people in the world and probably many of their plants. There wasn’t a lot of space left in the room, so I took the only real open space up on one of the beds next to this tall, lanky girl who was playing in the game.
“STOP!” the game master roared. “The youngest player must switch places with the oldest player!”
This required everyone to share their birthdays and ages. The first thing I learned was that my roommate was the oldest one there, older than me by about a month. We were both 19 at the time, with summer birthdays just before school. The girl on my right was the youngest. She didn’t have to give her birthday. She was seventeen and won hands down on that alone.
“Wow,” I thought. “She’s like two years younger than me (Note: she isn’t). She must be really smart (Note: she is).” And then not a minute later a pop culture reference went right over her head and I thought “Probably a genius. I bet her parents didn’t even let her watch television…(Note: they did, although I swear sometimes that the only TV shows she must have seen in the eighties were Little House on the Prairie and Beverly Hills 90210.)” And this whole time there was just this wonderful shine just sort of emanating out from her, so close that I had the stifle the instinct to reach out and try to touch it, which would have been really awkward and probably would have resulted in me having to transfer to another college.
So I was thrilled when we got partnered up on in religion class a couple weeks later — Wednesday, September 1, 1993. I know the date because I made a note about it in my Log. I was a Trekker, understand, and so I kept a Log. Not a diary — a Log. (Stardate: Piss Off, I’m a Hopeless Geek, All Right?!) The professor paired up people based roughly on who they were sitting next to. I was sitting on the end of a row and Becky was sitting next to me because A.) I tended to give off pretty strong vibes of “antisocial psychopath” back then, which tended to make the seat next to me be among the last to be filled, and B.) Becky, God bless her, is pretty much never really on time to anything ever, and had to sit in that seat.
Our icebreaker topic was to tell each other what our favorite food was. In that moment, for whatever reason, Becky said it was beef stroganoff. My internal reaction was “That’s, like, one of the four things I know how to make! IT’S A SIGN!” and to which my external reaction was probably to suavely say something like “Oh yeah, my Mom makes really good stroganoff….”
But that was it for me. That was the tipping point of the roller coaster and you know you can’t go back up those things the way you came. It was a bit of a long and shaky ride at the onset there, owing in no small part to the fact that we were both unhelpfully dating other people at the time. Based on absolutely no promise of a return on investment, I broke up with my then girlfriend in a really shitty way that she didn’t deserve and waited in the wings for Becky to maybe someday do the same (although perhaps in a less shitty way) as we grew a genuinely deep friendship that managed to be mostly not unbearably awkward until she, like me, did finally ask herself nearly two and half years later “What the hell am I fiddling around with this for?”
So anyway, I tell you this collection of less than flattering stories because without context, you can’t really appreciate along with me what Wednesday, October 10, 2012 means to me, and why I stayed up late to greet it. I was born on July 24, 1974. The beef stroganoff day I described above, in which the grain of mental sand that was my attraction to Becky first pierced my antisocial oyster shell and lodged itself firmly and inextricably into the fibers of my heart, took place 6979 days after I was born. The pearl that has resulted from that unexpected scratch is, as of today, 6979 days old. And that means I can share two things.
First, I am still a hopeless geek with a an odd fascination with numbers.
And second, that from today until forever, I will know in complete honesty and absolute joy that I have been in love with Rebecca for most of my life.