Ten years ago, I lived in a little apartment with my friend SÃ© in Long Beach. I wanted to be a writer, so I became one – I carried a notebook around everywhere, wrote poems on street corners, indulged in excessive caffeine and exhilarating arguments. Sometimes late at night I would chat in AOL author chat rooms. Some of those people were actually published! And they critiqued my work!
It was in one of those chat rooms, six months before I had even graduated high school, where I met Josh. He was JGatsby806, I was Annaethea (annathea was already taken).
We were seventeen when we moved in to that place – the day after my hastily-pulled together high school graduation, two week’s after SÃ©’s birthday. She’d been out of high school for a year, at that point. We were innocent sophisticates, and accustomed to being independent. Our living room was full of computers and musical instruments.
Josh joined the picture that November when he came out to California to visit a friend he’d gone to school with.Â This friend was living with a girlfriend, and didn’t have a place for Josh to sleep, so either SÃ© offered or he asked if he could stay with us. We told him if he showed up and was anything other than a 19 year old boy from Missouri, then we would have him arrested. He took that bet.
The night before his flight was due to arrive, SÃ© and I were in Westwood, hanging out with her brother’s UCLA friends. We’d tried to go to a rave that night, but our attention wandered after the third or fourth number we were supposed to call and we found ourselves driving around aimlessly, so we parked at someone’s dorm and played drinking games. SÃ© and I weren’t drinkers, and this was the first time I’d ever played any kind of drinking game (the one Josh and I later invented deserves an entry of its own – it has to do with Martha Stewart). We ended up drinking about half a beer in total when SÃ© looked up and exclaimed “Oh my gosh! Josh is coming tomorrow, isn’t he? We have to clean the house!” We hadn’t talked to Josh in a couple of weeks at that point, and had completely forgotten his pending visit. So we left the party and headed home to clean.
When I think of the strange interweaving of chance and naivete and that similar chaotic intelligence that the three of us so eerily share, I see so many places where this story would have been different. He missed his first flight, you know. Overslept. So SÃ© and I stayed up all night tidying the house and making pots of French press coffee, and I went to bed before she did because I had to work. I had a couple of jobs by then, after a tense and jobless summer, and my favourite was at a tanning salon a short walk from our house. I could read books or write poems for the whole duration of my shift, and there was free Snapple in the fridge for employees.
So Josh called at 730am to tell us he was waiting for the next flight, and I scrapped my plans to pick him up with SÃ© and headed to work instead. I’d glued little nail decorations to my eyelids (we’d been trying to go to a rave 12 hours before, remember?) and the eyelash glue was unforgiving the next morning, so I wore them to work and fielded questions for my entire shift over whether or not they were pierced – seriously? My eyelids?Â I was dressed in an enormous multicolored button-up shirt that had belonged to my aunt, and my favourite thirty-year old bell bottoms that had once belonged to a boyfriend of my mother’s.
In short, I looked like what I was – a messy, intense little girl with a fascination for makeup and a complete inability to control her hair.
I was in the back of the salon, folding a load of towels fresh from the dryer and in a rare giddy mood from sleeplessness and a steady diet of rice and French press coffee. I think I was singing a Beatles song. The bell over the door jingled and SÃ© called out so I skipped out into the hallway and laughed the whole way to the door. Josh was dressed in a yellow ski shirt with a grey horizontal stripe, and had his hair cut so short that at first I thought it was buzzed. He looked so hesitant and cute and as he shook my hand my inner nature took over and I started teasing him about something – the haircut, the yellow. He shot back and then SÃ© jumped in and it was on.
I remember every single second of the next two weeks while he visited, and someday it will be fascinating material for a biography. For a blog entry, however, suffice it to say that yesterday Josh and I were sitting in SÃ©’s living room with Ned, the three of us talking over each other and the energy surging and I realized that I have spent the last ten years learning how precious those nights are. It was so much fun.
So on 11/15, it will have been ten years exactly since SÃ© brought Josh to the tanning salon and I teased him about his outfit and he followed it with a deadpan inquiry as to exactly how I’d managed to get staples into my eyes. Love at first sight.
I am so happy she was with us at our wedding.