Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my meeting my girlfriend, Michelle.
She’s a yoga teacher (do one of her classes, if so inspired, you can find her class listings on her Instagram @michellesmithyoga), from Ecuador, and used to be a salesperson for Toyota until the pandemic struck. She lived in China for 5 years, and has lived in the US for about that time, now, too. Her father’s American, and her mother’s Ecuadorian, and she was born and raised there.
We met a year ago after a few Instagram messages—I felt strangely comfortable with her, from the first. Dear friends of mine (Seane Corn, among them) have often noted “I don’t have any game,” to which I would nod, and say, “thanks.” I can be charming, as we all can be, when I connect genuinely—and that’s what happened.
We met at Union Station, in Denver, and went for an early dinner. There was some plastic involved, as I remember, so I didn’t eat. We had a good enough time that, an hour or so later, when I was meeting my dad, we kept hanging out. So my first “date” (a non-date, or pre-date, as I like to call it, really), involved my dad. Which was sweet. I remember we walked to the historic Tattered Cover Book Store, and before you know it, she’s reading the Giving Tree to my dad in the Children’s Section. That was a sweet moment.
I gifted her a literally-little Pema Chodron book (if you don’t know if you’ll ever see someone again, give them a Pema book), and we went on to a cafe, and peeked in the windows of a closed Art Deco bar. And then Rockmount, the historic cowboy shop. But then I had to hop back on my bus, back to Boulder.
By the time of our fourth or fifth date, the pandemic’s shadow was closing all around all of us, and we wound up quarantining together for 8 days at my house. That was the first time I remember thinking, “this human being may not just be another date—this human being could be a partner in life, in love, in family.”
*She was, among many other redeeming qualities, one of the only dates to immediately make her own relationship with my dog, Redford, and to welcome, not feel insulted by, the countless weird little eco living habits I practice.
You don’t say those “could be it” thoughts outloud, so early, but there was an ease to being with her, living with her, communicating with her, cuddling with her, biking and walking and eating and laughing with her. That ease was different than infatuation—it was, and is, the ease borne of a lifetime practicing open communication, grounding ourselves in the present moment, and having our values and personalities match like legos—different, yet fitting.
A year later, I’m grateful. I’m [spoiler alert] planning to possibly propose to her next week, when we go to the mountains, for a long overdue trip to my ancestral home and the hot springs (and she’ll snowboard, while I try and fall, not having grown up doing that skiing stuff, we could barely afford rice sometimes).
It’s an open secret, really—I’m a big believer, as I hope you are or will be, and our culture will be, in open communication around important life decisions. Do you want children? Do you want to marry me? Do you feel x or y about living here or moving there or…etc. Be open about it. You can find the surprise and romance around the edges, as I will (she doesn’t know when it will happen, though she has a good idea).
In any case, it’s been a long journey of being alone, and dating, and mostly being alone, and working, and waiting, it felt like, for her. She’s here. I wrote a whole book about waiting for a relationship such as this—one with air in it, one with open communication, one with humor and silly dancing and tough conversations, sometimes, and making love and cooking and cuddling and all the Things I would like to do with Michelle.