Friday, December 13, 2013

merry kiss-mas, baby

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I love Friday the 13th. Especially when it's in December. Because that's the day my life changed forever.

In the summer of 1991, I was still very much single and very tired of dead-end relationships, of wondering what was wrong with me, of trying to find that one person I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with.

I had a good life all on my own. I had good friends, a good occupation, and a great family. I didn't need a man to make my life complete. It was time to stop looking and get moving. 

So I wrote a personal manifesto, declaring to myself and to the universe that I was going to stop pursuing the impossible and start living into all the good things around me.

In December 1991, my friends Rob and Bruce invited me to a party to celebrate their birthdays. I was torn about going. My mom was visiting me, and I really didn't want to leave her alone in my apartment while I went a party. It was winter and cold outside. I was in the middle of a show and this was my night off. 
I was just the teensiest bit depressed about being alone on yet another Christmas. Besides, it was Friday the 13th. Nothing good happens on Friday the 13th. 

So I decided not to go.

"Of course you're going," Mom told me. "Rob is one of your best friends and it's his birthday. Go, you'll have fun. I'll be fine here on the couch for a few hours. You'll regret it if you don't go."

So I went.

I took my camera and decided to play paparazzi. Manning the camera would give me something to do and make flying solo a little more bearable. We had fabulous photogenic friends, so taking pictures would be fun. And all the blackmail pictures would be in my control, mwahahaha.

I got there early and greeted people as they came in. It was a crowd of regulars, theater folk we had worked with and loved over the years, a fun group of people to party with. I was on the other side of the dining room when my first director, Richard, came in. His sister Margaret was with him, and right behind them was their younger brother Morgan. 

Morgan and I had met socially, but I didn't know him well. Looking at him standing in the doorway, I decided it was time to get better acquainted.

Apparently he felt the same way, because soon I found myself being hugged by him. It felt good, but I dismissed it. "He's hugging everyone this way," I reasoned. "He's just being friendly. There's nothing special about this." 

As we all wandered from conversation to conversation throughout the night, he and I kept finding ourselves in the same group. I felt a chemistry between us. But I didn't know how much was real and how much was my desire to have someone familiar and safe in my life. And I didn't know if he felt it, too.

So I used my paparazzi status to find out. In a flirty but non-threatening sort of way. 

Morgan was standing in the living room near the Christmas tree and the mistletoe. Our friends were around him, talking and laughing. A good time was being had by all. It was time to strike. 

I worked up my courage, put on my most nonchalant voice, and breezed into the room.

"Here, take a kissy picture of me and Morgan," I said as I handed my camera to Larry. Never one to argue, Larry took the camera. I looked at Morgan to see if he was game. He was smiling. That was a good sign. 

We came closer. We embraced. I expected a quick peck on the lips. What I got was this:

The room started spinning. Bells rang. The air changed. I believe my heart stopped beating, then started again with a different rhythm. 

"This could be a game changer," I thought.

I had no idea....

After all the whooping and hollering from the peanut gallery died down, the questions started: How long had we been dating? Why had no one known about our relationship? How could we hide this from our friends?

Truth was, we had not been dating and there was no relationship. We were just as surprised as everyone else. After releasing our embrace, we retreated to different corners of the apartment to figure out what the heck just happened.

Game changers tend to throw you for a loop. Loops are fun. And scary.

Slowly, almost shyly, we made our way back to each other over the course of the night. We started talking. We tried kissing a little more to see if it still felt like magic. It did.

I told him I almost didn't come to the party but that my mom made me. He admitted he had not wanted to come either, but his brother and sister had talked him into it. We were both glad we had caved to pressure for once.

That night was the beginning of the rest of our lives, and the start of our life together.

It isn't often a couple gets a picture of their very first kiss. It isn't expected that wonderful things will come to be on Friday the 13th. We consider ourselves "blucky" - blessed + lucky - to have found each other, to have made a life together, to have both committed to doing the best we can for each other.

It takes a lot of things to keep a relationship alive and healthy for 20+ years. But it always comes back to the same red-hot passion we awakened on that cold winter's night 22 years ago.

I'm no longer the fresh faced 27 year old I was in this picture. I turn 50 in January and am having a bit of an issue with the idea of the Half Century mark. But blucky me - the other person in the picture still embraces me daily the same way he did that night.

And his kisses are still magic. 

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