This afternoon, doctors are going to stick a straw into my cervix, fill my uterus up with water and try to see if they can figure out why my lower abdomen has been hurting for so long.
This is not how I planned on spending my anniversary with Alex.
This is not the nighty I had planned for our anniversary.
About a year ago, this amazing person came into my life, swept me off my feet, and made me believe in things I’d long since thought to be fairy tales of my youth.
Quietly writing while she builds a fire on one of our first camping trips.
From our first date – which took us 8500 feet in the sky on an aerial tram to hike in the woods during the day, then down to sea level again for camping under a dark sky full of falling meteors – we’ve been adventurers, companions on each other’s quest to see, experience and grow.
Stopped to photograph our mutually favorite flower while exploring the desert.
This is the first time I’ve reached the year mark in a relationship and wanted to take it farther. Usually, I’m fleeing the scene of the crime right about now, but I find myself nurturing this thing with Alex, instead of murdering it like I’ve done with so many relationships in the past.
It’s not that I’m less scared, insecure or crazy (literally, not figuratively) with Alex than I have been with other partners, it’s just that she fits me better than anyone else ever has, grounding me in our mutual desire to grow, heal and explore every aspect of ourselves. She is my easy silence, my rock when the ground feels shaky, my life vest when the tempest of grief and depression tosses me out to sea.
She is the support I didn’t realize I so desperately needed in my life.
She has taught me how to simply be silent.
All through my brother’s cancer roller-coaster, his girlfriend Em stood by his side, holding his hand and boosting his spirits.
Even after the doctors removed his jaw, she was there for him every night after work, and the two of them wrote back and forth to each other in his bed, laughing and enjoying each other’s company as best as they could. His life was horrifically hard those last few weeks, the pain unbearable, but his face still lit up every time he saw her and she still loved that face until the bloody end, even though it barely resembled the boy she fell in love with months before.
Double dessert the night before having his jaw removed.
After my brother died, I tried dating, but no one seemed to support me the way I needed it. Everyone tried to fix me instead of just letting me be broken, they didn’t get that I will never be put back together again, at least not in the way I used to be. They didn’t understand that I needed time and patience to build a strong foundation from the pieces of rumble that had become my life.
And most of all, none of them were like Em. None of them felt like the kind of person who would find a way to make me laugh, even when it had become physically impossible to do so, and hold me even when my body was covered in tubes, scars and gaping wounds.
My sister, brother and nieces, right after we found out his cancer was back and his chances of surviving were slim.
Alex was different than the others from the beginning, someone who got grief and understood the personal exploration and growth that comes with it. She’s seen my demons and still loves me wholly, and she takes care of me without making me feel like I can’t take care of myself.
Last week, when I refused to go to the doctor but still winced in pain every time I moved, Alex was the one who got me to Urgent Care, the one who then drove me to the ER when they thought my appendix was acting up, the one who stayed by me as they stuck needle after needle in me trying to get blood even though she usually faints at the sight of it, the one who kept me entertained for seven hours as they poked, prodded, scanned and evaluated me in the freezing cold hospital nook.
She wrapped blankets around me, reminded me I didn’t have to be brave, that I could admit this all hurts and is really shitty, and even understood my need to document everything in my life and took photos of me for Instragram.
I make this gown look good.
She was my Em.
And while abdominal pain is nothing compared to having your jaw removed, the past few weeks of doctors visits reassured me that Alex is the kind of person who would stand by my side through anything life threw at us.
She’s almost a foot taller than I am. I mostly keep her around just because of that.
We left the ER at 4am, our flight to Eugene, Oregon for our planned anniversary celebration left at 6am. The week we were supposed to spend hiking saw us visiting doctors for more tests, and lounging on the couch watching cheesy romantic comedies and reruns of Bianca Del Rio on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
How we spent our anniversary. The popcorn was delicious.
Alex and I are getting a sublet together this summer, giving living together a trial period to see if it’s something we can figure out. I’m scared at sharing my space with another human being – especially one so attractive that I find myself distracted from my work while they’re around – but I pride myself in working through my fears, and this relationship is worth trudging through insecurity to keep it going.
Alex and I on a train from Portland to Eugene. She’s my favorite travel partner.
Alex is out getting my car an oil change. She left so I could get some writing done before I’m out of commission and lying on the couch for another few days, looped up on the Vicodin the doc said I’ll need after the procedure this afternoon.
She gets me, as a writer, business woman and lover. She knows that the next few days of “doing nothing” will make me antsy and drive me wild, so she’s helped me make sure I get a lot done today and will remind me of that when I’m asking for my laptop to work during an ultrasound (true story… happened in the ER). She’s reminded me that I’m still adorable, even though I feel horrible, and she’s held me even though I’ve sworn I’m not scared and don’t need a hug.
It’s not the anniversary I planned, but in a way, it’s what I needed to take the next steps in our lives together. I hate that we’ve been through this, but there is something comforting in knowing that even through hospital visits and straws up my cervix, we can still have a good time, laughing at life, pushing through the hard, and loving each other even more for it.