• Thu, Dec 23 2010

The Heart Monitor: Happy Anniversary, Tom Collins

One year ago today, we launched an unconventional “how we met” story.

This was a month after our introduction by a mutual friend, followed by an open-bar encounter, a late-night flirtation, a run-in with the cops, and a series of delayed Facebook messages. It was all very New York circa 2010.

Thirteen months ago, I had been dating—if you can call it dating—three, maybe four men.

My last relationship had ended painfully, and I fed my feelings with blind dates, sexy coworkers, and bar-side conversationalists. I gave them all nicknames so my friends could keep them straight. Before those three or four, there had been another set of three or four, and so on, mapped out in advance so that I had perpetual seasonal accompaniment.

Soon, however, the Aristocrat, the One With All The Biting, the Napoleon Complex, and the One Hit Wonder faded into the background.

Twelve months ago, I liked this new one so much he remained nicknameless. After a month of missed miscommunication, we finally embarked on a fifteen-hour first date.

A flurry of emails and phone calls followed, as he flew to the west coast to his father’s for Christmas, and I traveled upstate to my parents’ for Chanukkah.

When we arrived back in New York, we went to a New Year’s Eve party as a couple. We held hands, we posed for photos, and we snuck out of the chaos before midnight to make out in dive bar in Chelsea.

Eleven months ago, we went to Montauk. It was freezing. We walked across boulders, our scarves whipping at our necks, our boots slipping off wet rocks, and we almost drowned in the Atlantic. I dragged all of the quilts and blankets and pillows from our hotel suite onto the stone patio and demanded he lie down with me and look at the stars.

My roommate hated him. She had every right. He was down on his luck, between apartments, and crashing on a friend’s couch in a shady neighborhood in Brooklyn.

He slept over too often. We stayed out all evening, drinking and walking under the slush-dripping storefronts of the Village.

Nine months ago, we went upstate to my parents’ house for Passover. He met my family. I got drunk, picked a fight, and spilled Manischewitz. I told him I loved him under the train tracks. It smelled like shit. It smelled so bad he pretended not to hear me. He hoped I was black-out drunk so I could tell him again when I wasn’t covered in red wine and the night didn’t smell like rotting animal.

I changed jobs. I freaked out. He calmed me down. He took me to New Orleans. He took me to Philadelphia. He took me back to Montauk. He took me out to dinner and told me he loved me when everything smelled good.

Six months ago, we signed a lease and moved in together. I picked out a two-bedroom apartment because I knew we were rushing into it. This way, I told him, we could break up, he could move out, and I could move a roommate in the second bedroom. I made sure it had a bathtub.

We came home from work, threw off our clothes and had sex on the couch. I bought him an ice cream cake for his birthday. We took bubble baths. We ordered in Indian food and reveled in our newfound freedom.

We gained ten pounds and didn’t care. Well, we cared, but we didn’t.

Four months ago, we realized the mattress was too small. The room was too hot. He snored. I kicked. We split the difference and bought an air conditioner. The sound lulled me to sleep and drowned out his snoring. I learned to push him on his side and he learned to rub my back.

The mystery, I wept, was gone. We stocked our makeshift liquor cabinet, ate most dinners in and argued about Ikea furniture. The bills added up. The mattress was still too small.

Three months ago, we calmed down and talked about our feelings. We went through our original series of courtship messages. We took long walks around the neighborhood and stopped for a glass of wine. We went to the gym and tried unsuccessfully to lose the ten pounds we had put on.

Two months ago, I changed jobs. Again. We agreed on the Ikea furniture and we split the bills. We split the chores. We split the stress. We planned a trip. We cancelled the trip. We decided we would stay in New York for the holidays this year.

I begged him to buy me a Christmas tree and he negotiated for my parents’ old menorah. We lit candles and made latkes.

Now we have my first Christmas tree. We have pine and latke scented I-love-yous, personalized stockings, and photos from multiple trips to Montauk. I have foggy memories from his company holiday party.

Now we have good times, and we have the bad times to prove it. Now we have bubble baths. We have a too-small bed. We have a guest room. We have new traditions and happy memories.
Now we have a not-so-ridiculous “how we met” story.

It’s been one year, and after all that—unbeknownst to my friends—I finally gave him a nickname. Happy anniversary, Tom Collins.

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