On anniversaries

“Are you disappointed?” he said, as we heaped pineapple fried rice onto our plates. “Do you feel like this is not special enough?”

My partner and I celebrated our first relationship anniversary last weekend. I’d never celebrated an anniversary before, and, while it did not feel particularly special to be sitting at my kitchen table in yoga pants eating Thai food, I wasn’t sure that I really cared about specialness. “What’s really the point of an anniversary anyway?” I asked through a mouthful of pad see ew, “To say we managed not to break up this year?”

“No. It’s like: ‘Hey, you’re special to me. Let’s celebrate this thing we created,'” he said.

It’s not that I needed him to defend the idea of an anniversary to me (though I appreciated his willingness to do so), it’s that sometimes I feel it’s my job to maintain skepticism when it comes to the rituals we associate with romance. We all seem to have a lot of ideas about what you’re supposed to say or do in love and these ideas have the power to make us feel either smug or inadequate–or, absurdly, both at once. And I just wanted to tread thoughtfully toward the anniversary celebration.

“I think I should write something about anniversaries,” I said. “People don’t really talk about how weird they are.”

“Are you gonna write about this?” my partner asked, glancing around at the takeout containers propped between haphazard stacks of books. Continue reading

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Something about how this started

I have this theory that most love stories actually do a terrible job of preparing us for the business of being in a romantic relationship. But despite this, we still love love stories. We tell them all the time. We hold them up to the light next to our own relationships.

I love love stories. Personal experiences, family histories, fairy tales, cheesy romantic comedies–you tell it, I’ll listen. Cue up a Julia Roberts movie and I’m the one sitting beside you on the trans-Atlantic flight, glancing surreptitiously at your iPad and pretending my red, puffy eyes are the result of cabin pressure and a pretzel allergy.

I once worked at a writing center with a Joan Didion quote on the wall that read, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” I’d been writing essays about rock climbing, or caffeine, or medieval martyrs, but somehow each piece snuck back around to this one fact: I fell in love.

Every day I looked at that quote and I grew increasingly worried about what it might mean for me. Love scares the crap out of me, but somehow I’d spent my life wanting it. If I didn’t tackle it head-on, I might never stop writing about it. I was used to being good at things, but love? Love was too smart for me. It was the roadrunner and every time I tried to catch it, I threw myself off the cliff with the anvil. I wanted to know why love wasn’t easier. And why something that was a fundamental biological drive could feel so utterly unintuitive.

Well, I for one blame the messenger. Love stories, you’re in my sights.

One day, this will be a book. In the mean time, it’s a hot mess of Word documents, and, now, a blog!