I remember little of our first conversation, only remembering that it was filled with some of the same laughs, ribbing and snorts1 that we now share. From that first evening, her smile still comes to me through my memory of the bar’s smoky haze, and I smile in the quiet of my apartment. Our first weeks were sweet with the taste of Bass ale and expectations, and few minutes remain that aren’t golden or polished in my memory.
Two years later, and equanimity has crept in. Equanimity, not unhappiness: I still look at her half-heartedly leafing through a magazine — seeing the pages but not the words printed on them — and I smile; I catch her trying to catch my eye from across a crowded room, and we exchange a secret grin; I watch her bring her hand to her laughing mouth, splaying her fingers (with index and middle fingers brushing her lips, so very slightly) as she does so, and am happy that only I know what to make of that. But it’s precisely that — even though arguments and exasperation have occasionally clanked into place, it’s only now that this aggregation of secret signs, signposts, smiles accrues any meaning. In the unabashed optimism of those first shining weeks, we were without that secret language that now only we speak, having learned to do so over the past months. I would take another world of tears and angry silences over losing the language you’ve taught me, my love — I feel as though I need another language to thank you rightly.
Outside my apartment, I can hear Canadian geese calling, winging their way north. Happy anniversary, to my one and lovely.
1 Yes, she snorts when she laughs—and now I do, too. Go figure.