Tomorrow is Cris's birthday, but we're celebrating tonight. I've got my mind on babyback ribs and a gift half-wrapped in my bag, so the train security guards don't make me unwrap it in line. But mostly, I'm thinking about the guy who changed my life one night by taking my hand and telling me not to be afraid.
It might sound cheesy, but he really did that, and it really worked, though it took a while. Now, seven months in and listing all the reasons I'm glad he was born, the first and best of those reasons is that with him, I am not afraid.
For as long as I can remember, I've been a worrier and a pre-empter, always a little to preoccupied with probable futures and the world in my head to completely experience the actual present outside. For the first time, I can say that I no longer worry about the future — even if it isn't assured. I used to make plans months and years in advance, and the time between now and then would make me anxious for the future to arrive. Now, when I plan and see how much time I have before any plan has to be set in motion, I don't feel anxious, just eager to spend that time acting my age and enjoying myself.
Few people have made me feel quite so comfortable as myself as Cris has this past year — so much that I'm sometimes surprised by aspects of myself I hadn't really paid attention to before. He doesn't make me feel weird or inadequate, but he does make me want to be good.
It's just one of his many powers, I guess. He's really comfortable in his own skin. He's also nerdy in the best way, full of genuine, exuberant curiosity about the world. He's the first guy I've gone out with to get my dad and brothers' sense of humor. He's a pretty damn good cook, with the best homemade bolognese sauce I've ever had. Plus, I could stare at his face for hours. I love his snaggletooth.
So, here's to Cris, my boyfriend and a really cool guy. It's his birthday, but he's the gift.