Ten Years

Ten years ago I lived in a house with friends near campus while I studied psychology.  I slept in a tiny room that barely fit a bed, desk, and dresser.  I’d recently gotten out of a not-so-serious relationship with a cute boy with tattoos and had gone on a horrible date with a girl.  I was having fun dating and was in no hurry to settle down.

On Friendster (a pre-MySpace, pre-Facebook social networking site), I got a message from a guy who lived a few hours away.  I wish I could remember exactly what he said, but at the time it was so inconsequential it slipped  my mind.  He more or less said, “Hey, saw you lived in the area and that we had some things in common.  Just looking for friends.”

I thought, “Sure, why not?” and messaged him back.  We chatted online for a week or so and in that time we started to flirt a little.  He asked for my number and we talked for hours on the phone.  Although neither of us were looking for a relationship, it was clear we connected well and the chemistry was off the charts.  After a few weeks he asked me out on a date and suggested meeting for coffee.  His picture was cute (he kind of reminded me of Heath Ledger and he had on a vest!) and he made me laugh a lot, so I said yes.  I figured at the very least it would make for a funny story.  I never dreamed about the best case scenario.

When he showed up at the house he was still cute, if less Heath Ledger-ish.  He had short, light brown hair and gorgeous blue-green eyes with long, thick lashes.  He wore jeans and an orange T-shirt and he smelled great.  He sat down in the living room and my roommate/best friend interrogated him.  All 110 pounds of her tried to look intimidating as she brandished her knitting needles and asked him pointed questions in case he was an axe murderer.

Once she deemed him safe enough, he and I walked to the coffee shop down the road.  It was maybe a little awkward initially; first dates always are, but by the time we found a seat on the patio–him with a mocha latte, me with a chai–that eased.  The butterflies in my stomach were from excitement not nerves and I had that fluttery, shaky feeling of infatuation.  We talked for hours, covering just about every topic under the sun, and it never got boring.

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Long after our drinks were gone, we walked back to the house and went in my room.  He sprawled on my bed while I sat in the desk chair and we listened to music and talked more.  Eventually, we kissed.  He swears I lunged forward and attacked him, I swear it was mutual.  To this day we can’t agree who made the first move.

Our first date lasted three days.  I fed him leftover homemade blue cheese mac n’ cheese and we cooked together.  We took walks in the park and I remember sitting in the gazebo with his head on my lap thinking I’d never felt that way about a guy before.  After three days, he headed home.  I was going back to my home town and he had to work.  Best friend and I went to World Market to get beer for her father for Father’s Day and in the parking lot she said, “Sooo, seems like your date went well.”  I laughed and agreed.  I said, “There are only two things I don’t like about him.  He has crooked teeth and a really annoying laugh.” She agreed, but we both decided that compared to the way he made me feel, they weren’t important.

He and I dated for a few months, initially non-exclusively because I was freaked out by the idea of settling down.  Of course, I didn’t actually go out with anyone else, I just liked knowing I had that option.  But by the end of the summer we were exclusive, and in September when we went camping he told me  he loved me.  We were at the picnic table and he stood there, squeezing mustard onto a brat, and looked down at where I was sitting and said, “I think I love you.”

My stellar response?  “Thanks.  I really like you, but I’m not ready to say that back.  I promise I’ll get there though!”  *rolls eyes*

That was pretty much the way our relationship went, him forging forward, me holding back.  But he was patient and eventually we were on the same page.  Oh, and the crooked teeth got fixed once he had dental insurance and the annoying laugh has toned down.  Ten years later, here we are, married and living in an old home with three crazy cats.

We’ve been through some rough things together: fire, theft, car accidents, burglary, health issues, the death of family and pets …  Through it all the one thing that tells me I made the right choice is that every bad day is better with him in it.  Even when I’m mad at him, I am glad he’s there to make me mad.  As cliche as it sounds, he’s made me a better person.  I’m stronger and more sure of who I am because of him.  I’m more, well, me.

We go out to celebrate our wedding anniversary every year–it’ll be 4 years in October–but in some ways I think our first date was more monumental.  It’s where it all started.  Every day I am grateful I answered that message.  That I chose to stick with it and fight past my fears about settling down and growing up.  Because while I don’t necessarily believe in soul mates and I think there are many people we can fall in love with, I do believe that maybe there’s one person who is the best fit.  And thanks to luck, good timing, and a lot of patience on his part, I found mine.

Happy 10th anniversary, sweetheart.  You’re the most patient axe murderer ever!

 

What Am I Working On?

I know it’s been pretty quiet around here, so I thought I’d bring you up to date on what I’m working on right now.  A lot, actually.

There are certainly more plot bunnies than I have time to wrangle.  I have a number of documents with a brief summary, a picture or two, and a few scenes or chapters written.  Some are short stories, one is a novella.  I have four that could potentially be novels.  Right now, they hang out in a folder and I pop in to add something if a really good idea occurs to me.

There are three I am focused on right now.  A novella, and two novels.  Yes, two novels.  One is a collaboration with the ever-fabulous Karen.  You know, the one who got me into reading m/m in the first place.  I won’t say much about it, but we’ve been working on it for about a year.  Collaboration can be slow, but I enjoy it.  I’m pleased with the way the story is coming together and when we get closer to having it ready, we’ll share more info about it.

The other novel I’m working on is something I’m doing alone.  It’s coming together nicely and I’d say the first draft is about 3/4 done.  There are a few scenes here and there that need to be written, but mostly I need to fill in a few missing pieces.  After that it’ll go to the pre-readers.  I feel like there are some issues with it that I am not sure how to correct, but I know with good feedback it’ll come together.

The novella is my top priority right now.  I hope to have it finished and available by the end of June.  I’ve been working on it for a few months, on and off, and it’s been slow going.  I didn’t quite have a grasp of the characters at first and until I can “hear” their voice, the dialogue doesn’t flow.  I can block out a scene and get a general idea of where it’ll go, but it’s difficult to get any momentum until then.  I had a brainstorming session with a few people on Facebook and they helped me figure out the motivation for one of the characters.  That really helped me get a better grasp on him and  I spent the weekend writing.   I parked myself at my desk, logged out of Facebook, and put my headphones on.  Other than a cat kneading my leg with his pointy claws I managed to keep the distractions to a minimum.

On Saturday I wrote 9,528 words, on Sunday 6,087.  I finished the first draft tonight and it’s roughly 41,000 words.  That’s a little long for a novella, but it’s what the story required.  It’s off with one of the betas right now and I am sure I’ll have a lot of work for me once I get it back.  There are parts I’ll need to tweak, but it feels great to have that step done.

It doesn’t have a title yet, but the main characters are named Stephen and Russ.  Stephen is in his late 40’s, Russ is in his late 20’s, and their relationship is an interesting one for me to explore.  Their dynamic isn’t one I’ve explored before but I enjoyed pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

 

Russell                                          Stephen

Here’s a little excerpt for you:

They made idle chit-chat as they ate, ignoring the elephant in the room; their plans for the evening. There was something titillating about knowing sex would happen but having to wait. It put him on edge, teetering on a fine point of arousal and anticipation. As he stared across the desk at the man devouring his salad he wondered if a weekend in bed would be enough to assuage the hunger he was sure they both felt. Not the kind satisfied by a deli lunch, but something deeper, more primal. He stared at Russ’ forearms, exposed by his rolled up shirtsleeves, tan against the whiteness of the cloth, lightly covered in hair. His hands, with blunt, strong fingers, and branching veins. His eyes, more hazel than brown as they picked up the olive tones of his tie. His lips, full and shiny as his tongue swiped across them to catch a stray smear of dressing.

Russ leaned in. “You’re going to get us both fired if you keep looking at me that way.”

Stephen blinked and cleared his throat trying to think of a witty comeback. He had none. He took a sip of his water instead. “I’d apologize, but we both know I’d be lying.”

Russ laughed and tossed his leftovers in the trash. “Right now I’d be lying if I said I cared if we did.”