Eric and I met 12 years ago this month (I don't know the exact day). On our 10 year anniversary I wrote him a letter reflecting on our first ten years, and pulled it out today, reread it and decided to edit it a bit (meaning take out the mushier parts) and post it because it is a good summary of our early years together, and I realized I could create a little photo history here (as I recently scanned a bunch of our old photos into the computer). So, here goes...
I remember the first time I saw you – when I went to interview for the Elizabeth Furse for Congress campaign (the first of many campaigns we've worked on together). You had a baseball cap on and you were pushing yourself on your roller chair between your desk and the table in the center of the office. You didn’t pay me any attention when I said I was there for an interview. You just pointed to Megan’s office and went back to rolling between your desk and the table and typing furiously at your computer. I remember hoping to get the job so that I could interrupt you.
I remember the morning, just a few weeks later, when I was supposed to be leaving to drive cross-country and return to college (!!) when we went out to my car – my “new” used car that I had just purchased for this very trip – and it wouldn’t start. So I bagged the cross-country drive and decided to stay in town for another week. I remember that week. That was the week we hiked in the Gorge and I confessed all my deepest secrets and insecurities to you in a last ditch effort to scare you off. And, I remember how relieved I was when you stayed.
And, I remember that first winter, packing up your boxes in your Portland apartment in preparation for your move out to D.C. Of course I remember that day! The day we said more than I love you – the day we said “forever”. I remember looking up at you and remarking that this was a big move. And you agreed that it was, but then you said that you weren’t scared because you knew we were going to be together for forever. I am not very good at being able be place myself back in a moment as it happened. But, I remember where we were standing when you said that, and all of the boxes that were around us, and I remember you saying “forever” because as you said it, I knew it. I had known it before you said it, but hearing you say it out loud, it became truth. It was one of the few moments in my life when I have glimpsed my future and known that I wasn’t speculating. I couldn’t guess what the future held, but I knew in that moment that it was no longer my future, it was ours. And here we are – twelve Julys later, and we’ve spent the last twelve years creating things to remember.
I remember the first place we lived together by ourselves - the house on Carolina Place where we stayed for four years. I remember how it was really just an oversized doll-house; everything was in miniature. No freezer. No air conditioning (and I remember those hot, humid summers!) But, it was our apartment. That house has so many memories for me. It was the house where we met Abby. Where we hiked 20 miles (round trip) along the tow path to “great falls” only to find out that they weren’t great, and they weren’t really falls. They were rapids. That was one of our first realizations that the East Coast version of a waterfall, mountain, or ocean would never live up to our standards. It may have been one of the first times we vowed to move back West as soon as we had the chance.
I remember our first camping trip over Thanksgiving weekend (always good to have a first camping trip be in the winter!), and the first night when we cowered under a rock as we waited out an electric storm and the second night when we froze up on the ridge because we didn’t have sleeping bags or thermarests. It was our first death march – which seems to have doomed us to a life of death marches – although, none compares to the shitty horse island, Assateague! I think the silver lining of Assateague was it convinced us that we needed to start investing in some decent camping gear.
I remember our first trip to the Atlantic Ocean – and how we settled down to watch the sunset and then realized it was going to set behind us!! Another moment when we realized we needed to head back West.
I remember our adventures. All of these things that we’ve done - rock climbing, sailing, backcountry adventures, rides in single prop planes with an old man that probably lost his license to fly decades before taking us up in that plane – I never thought I could do them. I may not stick with these activities (which I know frustrates you to no end) but I can’t believe I even attempted them.
And I remember all of our long walks in those early years (before we had a car!). I remember how we walked to and from work – miles each way! We’d walk to the store. To the monuments. To the cherry blossom festival. To our favorite Mexican restaurant that was clear across town. And we would deconstruct and map out our lives on those walks. We plotted how we would get to where we wanted to be. We discussed whether you should go to grad school, whether I should go to law school, and imagined a future when we might finally be done with all of our incessant schooling and actually doing the work that we wanted so badly to be doing. We dreamed of the days when we would no longer be interns or assistants or field staff – when we might run an organization, manage our own cases or projects, be set free to protect a beautiful place or fight for the rights of others. We talked of moving to California and buying a house in the woods – like the one we saw that first winter, when we drove to California (and Mexico), and maybe, one day, of raising a child. We planned on those walks and dreamed of how it might be.
And I remember everything that has happened since those walks – Oscar, more camping trips, international and domestic travel (Ireland, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, St. John, the Tetons, Hawaii…), coaching soccer, better apartments, summer solstice parties, real furniture, fewer death marches.
And I remember how we made the discussions we had on those long walks into our realities – grad school, moving back West, law school, late nights writing each others papers and helping each other over the next hurdle. And then, finally, beginning to see the fruits of all our labor – running an organization, securing a job fighting for the rights of others, buying that little house in the woods in California, and, now, our newest adventure has just begun.
Can't wait for the next 12.