I was a pretty moody teenager, and I had a great many challenges when it came to being social. Not the least of which was crippling imposter syndrome and a unique way of looking at life as if it were theatre of the absurd.

I figured that I’d be alone forever, because there would be nobody who could deal with the overwhelming weirdness of being with me. Also, I could never be convinced that anyone would possibly want to. Even after a number of scattered first dates with various girls, and even a few second or third dates, or various communications, or yearbook signatures from said girls who had actually written in plain language that they liked me, I still could not wrap my mind around the concept. Even if they said the words out loud.

I had friends who were girls, some of whom likely were interested, but I was incredibly bad at noticing or following up. Picking up signals was never my forte. I felt unlovable, and unfortunately this led to me writing some truly awful poetry and short stories.

One of the bright spots in that year was that I had a very tight-knit group of friends. They helped me to ignore the dark side, and to distract myself with humor. I accepted my weirdness and the way it melded with theirs. Chief among that group was my future wife. (Way to bury the lede…)

She was, and is, incredibly lovely. Not just physically, but in her character. She’s kind and funny. She’s a talented poet, with a gift for vivid turns of phrase.

When she noticed I never had money for lunch, she bought me a sandwich, or a piece of chocolate cake. Not for any reason, just because she knew I was hungry, and she wanted to make that better. I felt better when she was around. Eventually, it became the high point of an otherwise drab day when I’d see her.

At the end of the year, she put her phone number in my yearbook, along with a long, heartfelt, and somewhat ambiguous message. Her handwriting was fascinating, and I worked up the courage to call. We talked and talked and talked. I felt better each time. She has a way of doing that just by being there. It helps that she laughs at my humor, and she understands my references. After all, we more or less grew up together.

She loves our children so much that she’d do anything they needed. She makes sure our pets feel as loved as possible. She needs me enough that it makes me feel worthy, and she has an unbridled belief in my abilities that penetrates my defenses, especially when I’ve lost my own confidence. If I ever have a problem, I know that she’ll not only be the one to help me deal with the metaphorical body, she’ll have already gotten the chopping done, and the scene sanitized before I even got there. When it comes to her family, there is no fiercer defender.

She makes sure the house is a home, and she makes sure the home is individual to our family. Her style is comfortable, but also very knowing, because she’s the type of person who buys art on vacation, the kind that is specific to the destination. She’s massively competent and dependable, though she’d never believe it. People assume that she’ll get things done, because she proves them right again and again. She’s unobtrusive, but she’s a devoted friend, and an indispensable part of the school where she works. I’m writing under an alias, because she’d be embarrassed that I’d tell people the secret of how wonderful she is and what she gives to me.

She teaches elementary school kids who need extra help, or who are having issues with their day, and the notes and pictures they draw for her as thanks are filled with hearts and love.

She’s changed me into a person who can deal with life, who can support a family, and who can be a father to the three sons we’re raising together. I’m not exaggerating when I say that she’s the reason I finally grew up, and why I continue to look forward to the next day. She’s why I try to be better, so I can be the person she imagines me to be.

Though she refers to herself with a lowercase i in her poems, she’s the uppercase person in my life, and it’s with this appreciation that I say this out loud.

Be jealous of me. You should be.

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