Five years ago tonight, I rolled into Jess’s arms at Oaks Park roller rink on Gay Skate night. For the remainder of the evening, we rolled around the rink getting to know each other. I completely abandoned the group of friends I had assembled for gay skate (in case the date turned out to be a disaster), except for a single check in to report, “My skate date is hot!”
Recently a friend asked me if our relationship is ‘as good as I make it sound,’ and the truth is YES, it really is that good. I waited a long time and went through some crazy people and some looong dry spells. “The longer I wait, the better she has to be,” was the deal I made with the universe and the universe delivered.
I once made a list of twenty-three qualities I wanted in a partner. Jess has twenty-two of them. We are ridiculously compatible on most levels, as our rather embarrassing (to her) penchant for matching clothing can attest.
Here are just a few things I’ve learned about her in the past five years:
She’s easily annoyed. She doesn’t have much patience for people who cut her off in traffic, badly designed products or misbehaving fellow bikers. But when the s— hits the fan, there’s no one I’d rather have at my side. Having your mom diagnosed with terminal cancer really puts a damper on the honeymoon phase. Jess somehow helped me stay (mostly) sane during the most traumatic time of my life and put up with my family at the same time. That’s commitment.
She’s fragile. When I suggested three days of snowboarding lessons for our first anniversary, she tried to tell me that she is very unlucky. After our second day on the slopes, I found out what she meant. Since then I make sure she’s covered in appropriate padding and signs a waiver for all dangerous sporting activities.
She’s hardcore. I was a bit concerned, given item 2, that she decided to come with me to the Dirt Series women’s mountain biking clinic this past summer despite not having a mountain bike and no previously expressed interest in anything other than easy trail riding. On Friday during our ride in Sisters on the way down, she was tired, winded (recently diagnosed with exercise induced asthma) and cautiously walking over half the obstacles on the trail. The next day after a morning’s skill lessons, she was riding down advanced trails in Bend and attempting to ride skinny logs five feet off the ground (that is video footage of me. I didn’t see her attempt since we were in separate groups, but you can see how high it was). Sure, it didn’t go so well, but I was so proud of her for trying, it didn’t even matter. Not only that, but despite a chain ring gash that should have gotten stitches (I’ll spare you the picture), she wrapped that sucker and came back for more the next day.
She’s not as nice as you think. Many people are fooled by what I refer to as her nice-midwestern-girl-exterior but those who have spent enough time with her have gotten a peak at the tiny evil streak. As someone who’s venn diagram is filled with 50% sarcasm, I like a little bit of bad.
She’s mature. Here’s a conversation I had with mom on Jess’s 31st birthday: Mom: How old is she? Me: 31. Mom: Wow really? I thought she’d be older than you. She’s so much more mature. I faked a certain amount of outrage but when you’re right, you’re right. Over time, she’s managed to bring me a little closer to adulthood, and I like to think I’ve helped her regress in all the right ways.
She’s romantic. Seriously. If you could see inside those cards, you’d have to call your dentist for an emergency cleaning from all the sweetness.
She’s adventurous. Before I met Jess, I had talked about traveling a lot more than I’d actually done it. We’re not jet setters by any means, but thanks largely to her, we’ve spent a lot of time exploring the amazingly gorgeous state we live in and parts nearby. Thanks to her I finally saw Crater Lake, and eventually rode my bike around it. Since we’ve met, we’ve been on camping trips (both by car and by bike), beach trips, taken the train to Vanacouver B.C. (with our bikes), visited friends and family in Denver and New Mexico. Because of her I’ve gotten back into cross country skiing (a nice safe snow sport), mountain biking and even started racing cyclocross (which she is forbidden to do–see item 2). Someday we both want to ride our bikes across the country.
She’s an awesome photographer. I’ve taken more classes and gotten myself some fancy equipment but she has a natural eye for composition that makes me whine with envy. Generally if I get a compliment on a photo in my Flickr stream, it’s one that she’s taken.
She gets things done. If Jess has a super power, it’s her focus and determination when she decides to do something. Move to Portland. Buy a House. Put up a fence. Get the house painted. Plan a trip. Build a garden bed (OK, I did that ’cause her wrist was broken, but she totally organized, planned, researched and paid for it. I was just cheap labor). Each time a school term ends, she’s ready with a list of projects that need doing and it’s almost always something to make our house nicer. It was fitting that we spent part of the day today finally (after more than four years in this house!) putting pictures up on our walls. Yeah, we make a good team, but sadly neither one of us is all that motivated when it comes to decorating so it’s taken a while. But thanks to a CanvasPop Groupon, we got some nice prints made of photos we took ourselves and now they’re up and they look awesome. Maybe this milestone will help us keep the momentum going in that area.
I could go on, but you get the drift. My girlfriend is pretty awesome and I’m pretty lucky to have her. Suffice to say, it’s been an amazing five years and I’m looking forward to the next five. Oh and to all those girls who told me I was ‘too good a friend to date’– Jess wanted me to let you know that you really missed out.