by Debra Dolan
For 18 years I have been in a relationship with Mike. Our anniversary is marked by spring and a natural renewal of what is possible after a long dark winter. In 2002, we were both wandering in the same west coast city and at the same expansive workplace, mending broken hearts. That April we came together as friends, sharing stories and emotions, over long walks and bottles of wine. We were both patient and kind, vowing to always be supportive. Ours was a slow blossoming romance yet, I am pleased to write, the fires continue to burn. There is no one that I would rather isolate myself in companionship during these precarious times of COVID-19 than my darling, Frizelli.
Although we have core compatibility, most markedly valuing leisure and solitude, we view the world related to politics, finances, art, décor and Netflix offerings mostly in singular ways. The ‘glue’ that keeps us together is love, pure and simple, as well as a shared respect not to turn the other into a female or male version of oneself. We both cringe each time we wear the same colour of socks or have matching coats. Complimentary is OK; identical is not.
During the entirety of our experience, we have maintained separate homes in different parts of our city; free to go back-and-forth. Additionally, prior to 2017, we had nothing intertwined – property, money, children – that would give us sober reflection after a terrible battle upon retreating to our distinct abodes to lick wounds. Now, there are grandchildren. While Mike was co-raising a daughter, I spent my time reading, writing, walking to my heart’s content, traveling. I did what I pleased. I knew not what I was missing; deep pure love for a child. During the past three years, Mabel, Henry, and Fletcher have often been “Pop’s” get-out-of-jail card. Other than a brief six-week period we have come together each day for the sheer joy of sharing life with one another.
We fight almost every day. This can often cause conflict among our family and friends as we face squarely our intrapersonal differences wherever we may be or with whom. Both Mike and I are fiercely independent, opinionated, self-regarding individuals, now in our sixties. We both exhibit many good character traits, too! He has never officially lived with anyone in his adulthood and I only did briefly in a short marriage in my late-twenties. We used to joke, “that we liked each other too much to get married,” and our mantra is, “we are two flawed individuals who won’t ever give up on one another.” Truer words never were spoken. So true, in fact, we even posted them on our joint 2018 holiday season greetings.
As we share space now, I recognize with gratitude that my fondest memories include Mike. It is getting harder to recognize a past without him in it. I love him more now than yesterday and I expect an even bigger love tomorrow and the day after that.
Debra Dolan lives on the west coast of Canada, is a long time (45+ years) private journal writer, and an avid reader of women’s memoir. She has been a member of the Story Circle Network since 2009.