some people are so much sunshine to the square inch – me and Walt Whitman

today is Ben’s birthday!

Ben is the kind of guy who is easy to like. he is very approachable, but he can be hard to figure out. he loves to play devil’s advocate, but if you get close to him, you will have a solid friend for life.

he is a sweet and gentle soul.

he is smart. a fountain of knowledge of all sorts, and happy to provide insight and feedback when asked, but does not force information on you. he is my fixer, explainer, and my steadying force. he is the type of person that really listens when you talk, and you can tell that he cares about what you have to say. he has such an admirable way of finding a way to make things work, reaching for optimism and rationalizing his way out of dark places.

he loves with his whole self, and asks very little in return. he is selfless and considerate.

I am so thankful to be spending another year celebrating him. I am so proud of him, and he doesn’t hear that enough.

having him by my side really does make life easier.

I love him a million blue drinks.

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second date-a-versary eve

two years ago, on January 24, Ben and I went on our first date.

I get to call it a date because Ben let me choose whether it was, in fact, a date.

it is the best decision (to this date) that I have ever made.

for a couple weeks, Ben and I had sent each other Facebook messages (I know, that’ll be a good story to tell the kids someday. wink.), and there had been obvious attempts of flirting (probably failing on my part) and many exchanges of witty banter. but one night he messaged me and asked if I was planning on going downtown that evening. I said yes, and responded back saying I hoped I would see him out. well, because Ben is like, 80-years-old, he fell asleep on the couch before getting a chance to make it downtown, but I think it worked out just fine…

the next day he sent me a message apologizing for not showing up, and asked if he could make it up to me. we made plans to go out to a wine bar, The Veranda Lounge, after he finished class on a Thursday night. he asked me if I wanted to meet him there, or if I wanted to make it a date and have him pick me up.

I picked the date. I also picked that my preferred mode of transportation was by magic carpet and that he could serenade me like Aladdin with “A Whole New World,” but he has yet to make that happen…

anyway, if I remember correctly (I do), Ben was pretty shy that first night in the car, and I tried to break the ice by making a joke about not knowing him very well, and that I had told a couple of my friends if they didn’t hear from me by a certain time that they should call the police because I had gone on a date with a serial killer. to which Ben half-laughed and told me he wasn’t a serial killer…so, ya know, good conversation starter.

we end up at the Veranda and we ordered a couple of glasses of wine. I’m sure we remember our first couple hours of conversation differently, and I know there were silences, maybe some of them were awkward, but I remember laughing a lot. and being intrigued. he was going to be turning 29 in a few days. he drank red wine (so chic for my 22-year-old self), he smoked (double chic, health hazards and all). I recognize these things are trivial, but he was intellectual, he was witty and thoughtful, he was so, so funny. he did weird, fascinating things.

I was smitten.

after Ben dropped me off, we texted until we fell asleep, and I went to bed with the best kind of butterflies. the kind of butterflies that never go away. I still feel them when Ben walks in the front door after a weekend away at a swim meet. I feel them even when we’re watching the 54th episode of Rescue Me and he grabs my hand. I feel them in the early morning when my alarm goes off and he’s sleeping beside me.

that isn’t to say there haven’t been challenging times. it took us a while to navigate our relationship, and it wasn’t always clear what we were doing, or what was going to happen, but I continued to be my tried and true awkward, pushy self, and famously made almost all the first moves. shocking, I know.

it feels like we haven’t stopped talking since that first night at the Veranda, and we probably haven’t, because I like to talk. it feels like there is not enough time in the world to experience everything I want to with Ben, but there’s also something to be said about how much I enjoy doing the mundane things with him. there is no single person that I’d rather spend time with than him.

making someone your person is simultaneously wonderful and terrifying.

I love knowing that “going home” means being in the space I share with Ben. at the same time, it feels stranger and stranger to be apart from him, and sometimes it is vividly painful to have him leave. it isn’t sad, it is painful. last summer we spent three months living in different towns, and I think that was the first time where I felt the reality of a life apart. I hated it.

but I also think it makes sense to feel a little wrong when you first realize how impossible life would seem without the person you’re with, especially when you’re “young” and it’s only been a (relatively) short time. if you ever find yourself feeling those heavy feelings someday, I’ll be sure to tell you that realizing you’re supposed to be with someone can be really scary, but it’s the right kind of scary. you’ve got to go into it.

let love overwhelm you.

I could sing a thousand songs about you still that would not do
there’s a million tiny things that make the things that you do, you
I wouldn’t trade our time together, wouldn’t trade for anything
’cause nothing else here in the world can bring the happiness you bring

and I am overwhelmed by you
am over come with joy
you’ve taken me higher, and shown me what love can do
where would I go, or be, without you…

cross-country skiing on mount everest

it’s cold. it’s snowy. it’s definitely wintery.

generally, I am not a fan of the cold. usually, when I’m sitting at work, I’m daydreaming about getting home and turning the electric blanket on to high so it can warm up while I go take a scorching bubble bath to stop shivering. then, usually as Ben is pulling into the driveway, I turn the blanket down to low because someone thinks anything above low is excessive. side eye Ben.

anyway, as much as I dislike the cold, I actually really enjoy outdoor winter activities. which is bizarre, and probably super hypocritical, because I hate shoveling. mostly because I don’t understand how to, and I watched a couple of YouTube videos one day and they were not helpful at all. shocking, I know.

but, let’s go back to me liking outdoor winter activities. I like to think it’s very fun and kind of unexpected of me to enjoy cross-country skiing, ice-skating, or snowshoeing. I haven’t gone downhill skiing or snowboarding in forever, and I’m quite certain I would break a leg or die, so I can’t speak to those activities, but the ones that allow you to have a conversation and just take in the winter surroundings? blissful.

…unless your boyfriend takes you to Mount Everest to go cross-country skiing, after you told him the last time you had gone was around a track in middle school.

two Christmas’ ago, Ben put together a gift of activities for us to do so that we could create more memories together, and it was super sweet (not that his gift to me this year was any less sweet, he gave me a Wild hockey jersey with my favorite player’s name on the back!). so, part of his gift included going cross-country skiing, and one day last March we set out to make it happen.

it was going relatively well, like I was able to get the shoes in the skis and maneuver my way to the trails, but then we very quickly approached a hill. Ben decided he would head down first, and he made it look SO easy. and now is probably a good time to let you all know that Ben makes anything look easy, and I don’t know how I forgot that, or what made me think I was on his level. because I bravely started going down the hill (which was definitely more like a mountain), and I didn’t even make it halfway down before I face planted into the snow and my legs were doing the splits in the air and my ears were filled with snow. but, you guys, I am willing to give anything a shot (or 12), so I got back up, and kept going.

and even though I also kept falling, it was actually a lot of fun. I definitely held Ben back because who knew we were on a trail with so many mountains, and I may or may not have eventually taken off my shoes and skis and walked through snow piles in my socks trying to get back to the car, but it was such a fun experience. and it was so funny, even funnier now, since I can think about it while I’m warm and dry. I can only imagine how ridiculous I looked falling over every time I tried to go down the hills.

this morning I realized that I never cashed in on going ice-skating, since that was also part of the present!  so, I have been trying to find somewhere to do that this weekend because Ben actually has a weekend off from swimming. and because I’m sure there won’t be any folding chairs for me to push around on the ice, that means there will be some good stories (and probably some broken bones), and even more memories.

I find January to be a very exciting month because on the 24th Ben and I celebrate our second date-a-versary (he loves when I use that term), and on the 29th we will be celebrating Ben’s birthday! but, really, every month is exciting because some might cliché (see what I did there?) that there is nothing sweeter than finding someone you can be your complete self with, even when you look like a fool.

it’s the best. truly.