Today is The Professor’s birthday.
As I post this, she is in the air, on one of the innumerable trips in which she indefatigably gives to her profession by contributing her brilliance and clear head (yes, as in “clearer heads prevail”—have you ever been in a professional association?) to various national efforts. She will probably read the post on the plane. [Sorry in advance for making you cry in front of your fellow passengers. It’s early morning. If we had to get up at 4, maybe they are from Puyallup and Poulsbo and will have gotten up at 2. Maybe they’ll be sleeping.]
You, Intrepid Reader, probably know that cumpleaños means “birthday” in Spanish. Did you know it means “he/she/you complete[s] years”? (You’re thinking, “That’s obvious, now that I look at it.”) Cumplir años is “to have a birthday,” and “to turn x number of years old” (let’s say 10) is cumplir 10 años. Be sure you put the tilde on the ñ, because anos means anuses.
I was waiting for The Professor for a long time, even though I didn’t know I was waiting. (It’s obvious, now that I look at it.) Looking back it doesn’t seem so long, though, really, since it feels like she must have always been here. I waited until July 21, 1999; I fell in love with her by absolutely no later than July 25, 1999; I’ve cohabited with her since September 12, 1999; I’ve cohabited with her in a house we own together since August 2, 2001; I survived the Dark Period with her 2008-2009; I married her for real April 3, 2004; I married her for government December 9, 2012. She refers to my ability for oddly specific date recall as that thing you do. For instance, I know that we adopted our three dogs on June 10, 2005; September 22, 2007; and December 24, 2010. I don’t try to know, and I don’t know why I know. I just do.
We’ve shared so much in 15 years. Yards of laughter and Pacific Northwest fleece. (I recently learned that type of construction is called a zeugma.) Guffaws, giggles, snickers, and chuckles—and brief stony silences, which are our version of a fight. But whatever we share, from heading to the airport in the wee hours, to decorating an elaborate gingerbread house together, to huddling in a wintertime Oregon Coast yurt while listening to the raccoons scrabble beneath our floor, to riding down the Table Mountain funicular in Capetown, to enjoying our daily dogwalk through the neighborhood as we each debrief the other on the book we are currently reading, it is all
Bless the broken road that led me straight to you. –Rascal Flatts
Happy birthday, Professor.