It’s kind of a clumsy number. I was thinking about that, clomping through City Centre today in my heavy Keen’s loafers, my backpack stuffed with forty pounds of library books and my keys hanging out of my pocket. Fourteen is a clumsy number. It lacks the portent of thirteen and the smoothness of fifteen. It’s jagged, awkward, oddly placed. It’s a stepping stone from whatever was to whatever is next. You know?
But when I bent my body – stiff from a week of constant, constant, constant study – to tie the fraying shoelace on my scuffed loafers, and I overbalanced from the weight of the pack on my back, I knew that if you were there with me, you would’ve had your hand out to help before I needed it. You would have caught me before I fell. And you would’ve made that smile you make when you know I’m probably going to be mad at you (I am perfectly capable of getting up myself) but also that you’ve done the right thing. And I probably would have smiled back. After I gave you a gentle shot to the gut for not-quite laughing at me. Because I also happen to know that if you had been there, and if I had let you help me up without at least some resistance, you probably would have fallen over, too. And we would have both been crashed out on the muddy mall floor, lightly concussed from the stack of picture books and laughing like idiots.
Which is pretty much the story of our life together, when you think about it. Falling, followed by laughter and mud and narrowly avoided concussions. Giggling in love. Cackling about life. Smiling through the tears that happen when things are so very good or so horribly, horribly bad. A hand held out to grasp, when we’re ready, to walk until we fall again on this bizarre comic road we’ve made for ourselves.
Fourteen years ago, February 10th, I walked across a frozen street in a slip dress and Keds, and you held out your arm so I wouldn’t fall. Of course, I fell anyway, every day, for five-thousand-one-hundred-and-ten days and counting. Laughing, I still catch your hand. Fourteen is an awkward number, but it suits us, I think…. I might consider letting you carry my bag, when we get to twenty-seven.
Happy anniversary, my love. You’ve got this skeptic 99.9% convinced that true love lasts forever.