Today is Jaime's birthday. I'm using the day to shower her with love and affection. After so many years, we've run out of gifts. I was never the best gift buyer anyways; I think she'd rather have a clean house and fed children. Appropriately enough, we're spending it working and cleaning and caring for the kids. It's a little more fun, though, because we're reminded of how awesome it is to have our little family. We're also reminded of how long we've been a couple, since today is also the anniversary of when we started dating. Appropriately enough, it was the day she turned seventeen. She has been dating me half of her life, as she reminds me. (I could trade her in now for two seventeen year olds, I remind her. She isn't sure that's legal.)
I can't believe how long it's been, how many birthdays and anniversaries. It's pretty amazing though. Looking through old pictures, so many of the memories are tied into places and people and situations that have since changed; the one constant in my life is Jaime. I can even remember in perfect detail the one birthday of those seventeen years that she was in Malaysia and we weren't together. It still makes me sad. One day without her in seventeen and it gives me a little twinge of pain. It's a sweet twinge, though, because the years we've spent together remind me of how precious that time is.
I sometimes get on a little rant about relationships, and staying together. It drives my friends and acquaintances nuts, especially those who have been through divorce or serial monogamy. But there is a reason I come back to it, other than the standard "I-can-never-shut-up" reason that I go on about everything: My life works and contains joy to the extent that I have held onto the people who have meaning to me. My time with Jaime has made my life better in innumerable ways. I think many of us would benefit from making an effort to build commitment in all areas of our lives as well. This means not only staying together, but working and building and growing together. We don't try to do that, we don't compromise, hold fast, or change in the right measure. We don't do what it takes to be together, as friends and partners, and our society and world suffers for it.
I'm glad we made the effort, forgave each other mistakes, and learned to be a couple. We're both better for it.
Okay, mostly me. But maybe a little bit Jaime too.