10 years ago yesterday my phone rang…or I called hers…the details are not clear. Whoever called who, I spoke to a girl named Kate who at that point in life I had only known in writing. She had popped up in my extended social network on Friendster, which for you kids is like Facebook and predated MySpace. Friends + Napster = Friendster. I had sent her a note on the now defunct social networking site and she had sent one back. So I sent her a little longer message and she returned one to me. Within weeks we were writing letters to each other and using a very modern (at the time) for of communication for a very old fashioned way of courting: We were writing letters to each other.
On Friday November 17th, 2003, we spoke on the phone to plan our date for the following evening. When we realized we were just 2 blocks away from each other at that moment in time we decided to just meet in person. I was a mess from a day breaking down a studio film shoot I had just assistant directed and had buzzed my hair off after receiving a terrible haircut. Kate was in her work clothes and walking to the subway after a long day working as an administrator at NYU. We met halfway between my house and her office at a bar called “Swift,” and things moved swiftly from there. My heart was won the moment I walked in the door. My life was changed the moment we started speaking face-to-face. I was (at long last) in love.
Not wanting to rush things I mentally promised myself to take things slow because I could tell there was something different about Kate. Then she grabbed me by the ears and kissed me…right there…at Swift Bar…despite my terrible haircut and baseball cap. She kissed me. I looked at her with confusion and she explained, “I could tell I was going to kiss you at some point so I thought I’d go ahead and do it now so we don’t have to worry about it.” Then she went to the restroom and I (no joke) did a jig at the bar that got the whole place laughing. When she came back we spent the rest of the night talking and falling in love…I was hooked…right there.
Tonight is the anniversary of our first official date. 10 years. I did laundry and had clean socks and an ironed shirt for our first official date – unlike our meeting at Swift where I was wearing a tee shirt I bought on the way to the bar and didn’t wear socks because I was all out of clean ones. Never had I wanted so badly to be in someone’s presence. Never had I felt so at peace with who I was. Never had I felt so along for the ride than at that moment…and I’ve been on that ride since then till death do us part, though I don’t think even death will be able to keep me from Kate. I think I’ve been on this ride since before the stars were born and will be till time ceases to exist. She has loved me for better or worse, she has inspired me, she has supported me, and I have supported her. She is the mother of our children, the foundation of our family, and the one thing in this world that always brings me back to center and makes me smile. She is the definition of “home.”
Two years to the day…I asked Kate to marry me on November 17th, 2004 in her painting studio during a residency at The Vermont Studio Center. She said “yes,” though there is a funny story about how “maybe” was her first response. Eight years later and here we are. When I think back on the days leading up to November 17th, 2003 I remember staring at her picture and wondering what she really looked like. I wrote a song about the experience. I think of how the world slowed down so I could experience it coming to a full stop when I pushed open the door at Swift and saw her sitting at the bar waiting for me. That’s when she got me…the kiss just sealed the deal. After that the following weeks of memories are filled with flashes of images and emotions like a white fur hat she wore that winter, kissing her behind the walls of ivy at B Bar & Grill as the buses roared past, meeting her brothers over the phone at Thanksgiving, the way her long hair felt when it brushed against my neck when we cuddled on a park bench for coffee together, the texture of her office door knob on my palm as I crept in to surprise her, the smell fresh paint, the sound of her breathing, and the overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t alone in the world. These are the seeds of a relationship and thus my family.
Most of all I remember her smile. Its a full-faced smile that says, “Life is fun!” She flashed it at me as I walked in Swift and countered it with her eyes, her grandmother Vera’s eyes, that look up at me and command my attention no matter the situation. Home, home, home. You make me feel at home Kate. Thanks for your smile, the way you look at me, the way you love me, and everything about who you are…thank you for giving me a place to call home in your eyes…in your smile…in your heart…in your life. 10 years of knowing each other, 8 years of being betrothed, 6 different cities we’ve moved to, 5 years of being married, 2 wonderful children, and 1 husband who knows how lucky he is every day. You’re my best friend and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years are like.
Happy Meetiversary & Engagement Anniversary. I love you “life-o.”
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