Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stick Shifts and Safety Belts

I set out in my mid-teens looking for a guy like my brother: well liked, somewhat fashion savvy, understanding to a fault, intellectual, and music lover.

I walked away with someone a little more like my father: widely misunderstood, hot tempered, timidly intelligent, and avid video game player.

This is by no means bad, just strange. I thought dating my brother's friends would be the best way to go about finding someone with his positive qualities, and instead I found someone who could help fill a gap that had been increasing in size between my father and me for as long as I could remember.

Today is the 8-year anniversary of our first date. Seeing as we were young and broke, our date consisted of a few laughs as we roamed up and down the aisles of a Toys R Us, profound conversations while holding hands in his car, a scenic pass through the Metro Parks, and dinner at a restaurant with an old-fashioned popcorn machine.

Back then our relationship was so easily summed up by the lyrics to Cake's Stick Shifts and Safety Belts; we didn't have a care in the world. Of course, through the years my insecurities would nearly destroy us many times, but for some reason he stuck it out, and every time I ask him why, he just says that I was worth it. I'm still baffled by that, because I don't know that I could have handled me.

We have long since left the honeymoon stage, as I like to call it, though we are still close and affectionate. He's been my best friend for longer than eight years, which means he knows me all too well; every facial expression, every tone of voice, every "I'm fine." He knows all of the hidden meanings, sometimes to a frightening degree, because I don't realize I'm doing it. It makes me wonder what we would be like had we not met as teenagers and at the most awkward time of our lives. Would he still know me inside and out? Would he think I'm a stronger person than I really am just because he wouldn't have seen me at my weakest? Would I see him differently? I don't know. And if I have it my way I never will.