by Kevin Fansler, USA
I met him in 2007 and we started dating. It wasn’t clear at first whether we were a match, but we were both communicators, working professionally as a writer and an editor, so it seemed that we had a good framework for solving problems and communicating our desires to each other. I don’t know when exactly I fell in love, but I remember the first time I said the words. It was Valentine’s Day 2008. “I love you, R___.” The winning song that year? Believe.
Obviously, young love is a clear pool that you swim in, or a whirlwind that carries you away. That next year, 2009, is a blur of shared intimacies, meeting each other’s friends, spending a month together in Israel and Jordan, finding a larger community that we each belonged to, but mostly… mostly… and perhaps unexpectedly… deeper love. The winning song: Fairytale.
By 2010, we were seeing each other five nights a week and were in each other’s lives every day. Our annual Eurovision party was going well, though our German friend always complained about how bad the German entries were. We introduced other Americans to this phenomenon of Eurovision. Some laughed at the over-the-top quality of some entrants—perhaps this was the year of the butterfly costumes or gymnasts with glow sticks—and some learned the songs in a heartbeat and sang along by the second chorus. The invite list for the party grew a little more each year. The winning song: Satellite.
Then my father became ill. It was 2011 and I was flying back and forth to my parents’ home deep in the heartland of America. I knew it was my last chance for The Boyfriend to meet The Parents, so off we flew. The winning song: Running Scared.
The call came late on a Sunday early in 2012. Friends were over to watch Mad Men. My father was in the E.R. and wouldn’t last many more hours. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t focus enough to book a flight. But The Boyfriend and our friends rallied and arranged it all for me, including packing my bag and getting me on the flight the next morning. I made it in time to have a last moment with my father. And for the first time in 30 years, all of my siblings were in the same city at the same time. The next day was my mother’s 80th birthday, so we had a combined birthday party and wake. Strange emotions coursing through the day, both highs and lows. The winning song: Euphoria.
Another year and this time my mother is ill and passes away. My sister is diagnosed with stage IV cancer and passes away. It’s still too painful to write about in detail. I could not make it through all of this without the love of my life being there and holding me when I needed it. He is my rock. The winning song: Only Teardrops.
In 2014, the memorial services behind us, we have some breathing room. Gay marriage nationwide becomes the law of the land about this time and I propose. Wedding planning is stressful, but we use the tried-and-true method of delegating some of that work to our best men (or in my case, my BFF, a woman who prefers to be called best person). The weather holds for our outdoor wedding and it’s a perfect day. Our combined Jewish/Christian/atheist household is now officially sanctioned and blessed by our government and we pledge our lives to one another. The winning song: Rise Like a Phoenix.
Finally, in 2015, for my 50th birthday year I have plans to spend as much time as possible in Sweden, the country where I graduated from high school. The Husband, as he is now called, has been learning Swedish, and he is a whiz at languages. His grasp of grammar already outpaces mine and it’s kind of amazing. I land a dream job, yet somehow, it can still accommodate my wish to telecommute from Sweden. The stars align when Sweden wins Eurovision and becomes the host nation! It’s all coming together. I have a personal hero. The winning song: Heroes.
I can’t say what the future holds, but I do know one way to measure the years is to look back at the friends we made, the parties we held, the events we attended, and the milestones in our lives. Seeing our Eurovision friends at our house for our annual party is a highlight of our year. And the synchronicity of Sweden hosting in a year when we had already planned on being in Sweden just seems like such a great way to start looking ahead to what might be in our future.