Thursday, November 1, 2012

life: 10 years with tony

Today is a milestone. Ten years ago today, Tony took me on our first date. Nov. 1, 2002. Ten years. TEN years. I get butterflies in my stomach when I think about it. A whole decade has passed. A Decade of Tony and Jessi.

A person changes and grows so much in their early- to mid-20s. And I'm proud to say that we spent those formative years growing together -- not apart.

So on Nov. 1, 2002, Tony drove his Cutlass Ciera to my dorm to pick me up. He took me out to eat, and we went to see Punch Drunk Love. He still keeps the movie stub in his wallet.

(Also, apparently movies only cost $5.50 in 2002?)

I was 19, a sophomore in college, and lived on campus without a car. Tony was a senior, lived off campus, and had a car. He also was 21 and could buy beer. And I'm being honest here, a car and beer -- those were two big perks of dating Tony.

After Tony graduated, he took a job in Ohio, and he stayed there for two years until I was done with school. And then he got a job in Georgia, and I headed west to Arizona. That was the first time we lived apart, and it lasted for a year and a half.

I'd drive through the desert, windows down, Johnny Cash blaring on the stereo, tears running down my cheeks. I'd scream the lyrics.

Train of love's a-comin'
Big black wheels a-hummin'
People waitin' at the station
Happy hearts are drummin'
Trainman, tell me maybe
Ain't you got my baby
Every so often everybody's baby gets the urge to roam
But everybody's baby but mine's comin' home

I still can't put that song on my iPod because it makes me cry when I listen to it. But as much as it hurt at the time to be away from Tony, it was one of the things that made our relationship strong in the long run. I'm glad I didn't marry him right after college and make a commitment to another person even before I was sure of how to live in the real world. In some ways, that would've been easier. But I realize that I had to figure out for myself what it's like to go to work every day, to build a career, to make new friends in a new city, to pay bills, to take care of myself. We had to do those thing separately. And it turns out, the adults that we were growing into liked each other just as much as (actually, quite a bit more than) the 19-year-old and 21-year-old versions of ourselves.

Tony eventually moved to Phoenix, and we had a great few years there. And then I moved to D.C. He stayed in Phoenix for six months while he searched for a job. After the second time apart, it was clear that we never wanted to be apart again. When Tony moved here in December 2008, he packed up his clothes, his cat and a diamond ring, and he drove 2,000 miles to me. When he got here, I met him outside our apartment. He hugged me and asked if I was ready to start the rest of our live together. And then he got down on his knee and proposed, right there in the street.

And it all started on a cold Ohio night with a Cutlass Ciera and Adam Sandler. Tony still can buy beer and drive a car, although his taste in both has improved significantly in the past 10 years. I love him for far different reasons today. I love him because he sometimes grabs me, dips me, and gives me a big kiss for no reason. Because he gives long and tight hugs during the sad times. Because he knows I despise cleaning the bathrooms, so he does it. Because I've found that all the cliches about relationships actually are true -- he's my best friend, he makes me laugh, he's The One.

In the card I gave Tony today, I wrote, "I love our life. I love you." And it's true. Happy anniversary, Tony. To many more decades together.


  1. This is incredibly sweet and touching without being overly cheesy (and it's also well-written). You guys are a really great couple, and I definitely strive for what you have and feel lucky to have known you both during several phases of your journey together so far.