Twenty years ago (in January 1994) I was living in Tempe AZ in a 3 BR condo with two roommates who were both in the ASU MFA program. My roommate Pete had a best friend named Tom who had a roommate named John.
John and I had met several times, and one day he asked me to go shopping with him because he was teaching a large lecture class that spring and his mother had given him lots of new shirts and pants and he wanted help picking out ties. Shopping?! I said sign me up. So we went and bought ties, then we went and had a beer, and then we went and had a snack, and then we rarely spent a day apart for the next 20 years.
How did I fall in love with John? Here are just a few of the many answers: He makes me laugh. He’s super smart. He’s adorable. He reads. He loves to travel. He can run really fast. He’s a great cook. When he picks me up from the airport he always puts a present in the passenger’s seat. He likes movies. He buys me a dress every year for my birthday. He likes dogs. He likes shopping. He loved his mother very much. He goes to sleep early. He is very generous. He doesn’t lose his keys. He tells me when my outfit looks good (or bad). He drives. He brings me roses. He loves me back.
During the first 3 years of our relationship John and I were both finishing grad school: he was in the Geography Department studying Fluvial Geomorphology and I was in the English Department getting my MFA in Poetry. We were really poor. But we managed to drive his ancient Honda CRX all over Arizona to do backpacking trips in remote canyons.
In August of 1996 we both got real jobs. John started at the Arizona Department of Water Resources (he later went to work for Salt River Project). I got a full-time position teaching at Arizona State University. So we bought a house in Tempe, got two cats, and started saving for retirement.
In 1999 John’s nephew Ryan (who was in the peace corps in Bolivia) asked us to meet him in Venezuela. We did, and we loved it. The next year John’s friend Kirk asked us to go to China with him and his soon-to-be wife Corinne. We did, and we loved it. That was when John and I made a promise to each other to travel to a “new to both of us” country every year, and we’ve been doing that for 15 years strong.
In 2003 we moved into a house near South Mountain in Phoenix so that John’s mom could live with us. We were so lucky to have her company until she passed away in 2005. We still live in that house with 2 plucky Vizslas and plenty of art that we have collected from our travels. We’re looking forward to retiring in not too many years so that we can do some volunteer service abroad.
I remember meeting one of John’s friends for the very first time (Scott Sherwood, in the first picture below). He asked me, “What do you see in this guy?”
The answer was so easy! I said, “He brings me such joy.”
That was in 1994, and now that it’s 2014, John still brings me great joy every day.
Just a few weeks ago we were having lunch, trying to decide what we should do to celebrate our anniversary.
He said, “I could buy you some jewelry.”
I said, “I could buy you a watch.”
We were both silent for several moments.
Then John said, “Let’s make a goal to have 20 adventures this year.”
So our goal in 2014 is to have 20 adventures. We already have several planned: surfing in Hawaii, hiking in Slovenia, a trail race in the Dolomites. I can’t wait to plan the rest of our adventures, and the rest of our lives together. I love you Johnnie!