Though the date had of course slipped my mind, I first met Edward exactly four weeks ago on August 18th, and we’ve either seen each other or spoken on the phone every day since. When I called him this evening, he jokingly answered “Happy Anniversary.” And somewhat crestfallen, he actually had to explain what he had meant. I can tell already that the poor lad is in for years and years of disappointment.
Before you judge Edward to harshly for rushing things, I should tender a confession of my own. It’s not that I mind him thinking of us as a couple, even though we’ve only been dating a month. Let me assure you, I’m oddly thrilled. It’s true the timing is off for me, but not in the way you’re probably thinking. The truth is, I go to epic lengths to align anniversaries to red letter calendar days so I don’t forget them.
When my last boyfriend, John, asked me about being exclusive shortly after Christmas, I told that I’d like to think about it a few days. He spent the time in agony, thinking I was working up the courage to reject him. In reality, I was merely waiting for New Year’s Eve to say “yes,” so I could more easily recall the day we’d first become a couple. When my tipsy friend Carol clued John into my reasoning at a party later that evening, he got a calculating look in his eye which conveyed more clearly than words ever could that he was weighing the pros and cons of stabbing me then and there. Pro: He’ll be dead. Cons: I’ll need to transport the body and there are police roadblocks everywhere tonight.
I try not to be so calculating, but I have the memory of a gold fish swimming in bong water. The cumulative weight of dozens of romantic disappointments have led me to strategize the logistical aspects of my relationships with an eye for detail that some would reserve for tasks such as preparing for a Himalayan ascent. Easter, St. Patrick’s, Groundhog’s Day. I’ve got an ex from each.
When my partner Lewis finally left me, he waited until February 14th to do so. I never asked, but it had to have been intentional — a final, bittersweet shot across the bow in what was a long and bittersweet relationship. I can tell you without even struggling that it was four years, seven months and three days ago exactly he handed back his commitment band. I had given it to him years earlier on a warm clear night while fireworks exploded around us — a night which, until the moment he left me, had been the happiest Fourth of July of my entire life.
It’s generally not as hard as it sounds to line these things up. People are naturally inclined to think of holidays to be special, so once you’ve got that going for you it’s just a matter of making it special enough that you drive out the original date they have associated with your relationship. The real trick is planning ahead; too soon and you’re rushing in without being sure, too late and you’ve missed the true moment and the new date won’t stick.
I’m thinking with Edward, this Christmas perhaps. That’s three months from now, and I’m sure we’ll both know for certain then, but neither one of us should have caved. Edward enjoys cruises and I’m thinking about booking us one as a holiday gift. On Christmas eve, we’ll stand together against the boat rail staring out to sea, silhouettes against the starlight, caressed by the warm Caribbean Breeze. And then I’ll turn, look deep into his eyes and tell him it was this moment I realized that I loved him. We’ll kiss and he’ll forget all about August 19th.
Because I sure as Hell know I will.