There is someone you need to meet: My girlfriend, Kendra Wright.
We met through work–an office romance, one might even say (vegan-organic eatery romance doesn’t have the same ring to it).
For the first few weeks though, I was in a sleep-deprived induced stupor and, completely unbeknownst to me, Kendra was an emotional-turmoil induced stupor. I wouldn’t learn about that chapter of her life for six months.
As my show closed, and sleep let me have the energy to see the people I worked with I noticed a few things about Kendra. While everyone got along well enough with everyone else at work, Kendra was friends with everyone at work. Her universal friendship was not a facade–she didn’t talk poorly of fellow employees. She never let inside jokes become exclusive or mean spirited.
Everyone’s mood improved when Kendra showed up for her shift and it wasn’t just because of her skill with puns–she was an incredible worker.
We all had our stations we preferred–I would (and still do) avoid the dish pit–but Kendra went wherever she was needed and stayed until the task was done. Working with Kendra made me want to be a better employee and a better person.
So, after impressing her with my skills in mimicking accents, I decided to take our work friendship outside the workplace: we took a day trip to Charlottesville. I had to drive a friend to the airport and wanted to explore the town. To my joy, Kendra asked off work and joined me.
We wandered around the slightly defunct mall, went to a trampoline gym, ate frozen yogurt, and visited a brewery. After the hodgepodge of a day, we returned home exhausted and pleasantly surprised at how much enjoyed each other’s company.
As the weather warmed up, Kendra and I found more times to hang out after work. We would hear about a new brewery and visit it. She found out I never had a chai latte so she showed me where the best ones were. I introduced her to Joss Whedon television shows. She showed me her favorite late night star gazing spots.
After not too long, when monthly work schedule came out, I counted how many shifts I had with Kendra –not how many weekends I had off.
If I worked morning and she came in for the afternoon shift, I checked the clock more frequently the closer it got to noon.
Then one day while watching netflix, I mentioned casually how much I loved having my head rubbed and next thing I knew our new normal involved my head on her lap and her fingers in my hair.
I never felt uncomfortable around her, whether I was feeling goofy, exhausted, frustrated, joyful, heartbroken. I wanted to share laughter with her in the good times and cry on her shoulder in the bad.
The only secret I felt like I had to keep from her was that, for the first time in my life, I felt like I was falling in love.
And keep that secret I would have. I firmly believe that I never would have had the courage to risk our friendship to see if she reciprocated. Despite our discussions of politics and faith and past relationships, neither one of us had discussed our orientation or even thoughts on same-sex attraction.
Luckily, she is braver than me. One morning she asked if I treated my other female friends the same way I treated her.
I choked out a “No” but didn’t offer any further help. She persevered and observed, “It’s not platonic, is it?”
I can’t remember if I shook my head or said anything, but we came to an understanding: it wasn’t platonic. I don’t know when that shift happened–had we moved onto Dollhouse by then?–but it did.
Since that conversation over a year ago, we have experienced life together more intimately and I still cherish every moment I get to explore another aspect of this person, whether it is seeing how she deals with a clogged sink or with a broken down car.
We have seen some really good times together–watching our fish grow up, seeing shooting stars, cooking dinner together–and some really rough times together–the stress of grad school, stalled cars on the highway, miscommunication between us, family crises.
There will be more of the both in the future. Kendra and I will navigate them together, sometimes not very successfully, but despite the difficulty we are committed to doing this life thing together.
Feel free to join us.