Today I can take time to reflect on a significant personal milestone in my life. I am on the verge of celebrating the 18th anniversary of meeting Hal for the first time. I still remember the first meeting as we went to dinner and a movie. The movie was “Galaxy Quest,” but I have to admit that I cannot remember exactly where we had dinner. Memories are funny like that.
It didn’t take long for us to realize that something was going on and that we were interested in each other. I hesitate to use the term “Love At First Sight,” but it was very close to that. I remember how wonderful it felt during and after that first meeting.
I don’t think that either of us would dare have dreamed that we would still be together and happy 18 years later, but it is an awesome thing to reflect upon now. Our relationship has gone through the typical highs and lows, but the underlying bond has never been shattered. I attribute this to honesty and trust with each other, but an even bigger factor is that we had both already been through relationships in the past that had not worked out.
Since we had both been through bad times before we met, it made us more cognizant of what a failed relationship was like. We had a much clearer idea of what to do to make this one successful, and that is what we focused on. We both wanted a relationship that would last, but I was particularly hesitant at first because the hurt I had been through was much more recent at that time.
I had masked the pain of a failed relationship through alcohol, I could drink most people under the table without even trying. It was a means of coping with what had happened to me, and I was on the verge of a lifelong problem. When I met Hal, my drinking continued for the first year, but I began to notice that it was diminishing as time went by. After the first year, I was able to embrace both Hal and life without a drink, except on social occasions. I had stopped drinking when it was just the two of us together.
That all sounds well and good, but the striking thing is that Hal never said a word about it. He never mentioned my drinking, he certainly never asked me to stop or told me that I had to stop. I honestly don’t believe that it was ever a competition between Hal and alcohol during that time, but I have to admit that I would have been defensive if he had ever approached me and demanded that I stop. I am so glad that it never came to that point, and I am a better person because Hal never said a word. I made the change on my own with his influence.
The early years were intense as with any successful relationship. We went through some significant personal changes with career and family matters during that time. Each of us lost our last remaining parent during those first two years, but we were there to comfort each other. I changed careers, and that forced us to relocate to DC. That change could have wrecked our relationship, but we managed to get through it over the period of a few months until Hal could also transfer through his job to the DC area.
We also began our family of Stooges during that time. It started when I brought two cats home with me after my Mom died in early 2001. We soon discovered that balance was needed, so we added to make the number rise to three. We have maintained that number ever since. Having The Stooges around has given us something to focus on much like children would for straight couples.
After we had completed the move to DC, we developed a circle of friends very quickly. For several years things went very well with those people. Sadly, some people cannot tolerate others being happy if they are miserable, and we had a few of those in the group. Thus we began to cull those people out of our lives. At first, it was a painful process, but once we made our decision, it became easier as we focused on each other and not on other people.
We spend most of our time at home now. We have that incredible level of comfort that only time and trust and love can provide. As our 17th year together comes to a close, I must admit that I never think that much time has passed since we first met. Each day is an adventure for us, and I cannot imagine my life now without Hal being in it.
This is the milestone that I am celebrating today. It makes today special. It makes me who I am, and I am grateful for that.