Iain and I had an unusual courtship. We met online, drawn together because of an Oscar Wilde quote an affinity for which we happened to share. It might never have developed into anything at all, beyond any one of similar, unremarkable exchanges we'd both certainly had, except that he asked me: "Fancy a game of Fahrenheit 451? Which book would you memorize for posterity, and which would you throw onto the pyre?" Well. I was hooked.

We became friends in emails, and we confessed our mutual crush over IM. We were on the phone, Iain standing in the street outside a pub in Edinburgh, clutching his mobile phone, drunk and gregarious, when he first told me he loved me—"I loove yeh, Lissie. I LOOVE YEH!!!"—and I laughed and cried and told him I loved him, too.

Following our rather unorthodox falling-in-love, and after not a single day spent in each other's presence that wasn't bathed in the casual, happy light of being on vacation, never having seen each other on a day stressed by work or unpaid bills or the general drudgery of routine, we went to the courthouse in Waukegan, Illinois, and we stood in front of a judge and we got married.

It was, unlike most other marriages, civil unions, and commitment ceremonies, a necessity, the only way we could reside and work and live life in the same place at the same time. We loved each other, but we knew so little—nothing, really—of what it would be like to be in a face-to-face, daily relationship together, that getting married was a pre-cursor to the actual beginning of whatever our authentic relationship would be.

(I don't believe in the sanctity of marriage, so I don't go in for discussions of its subversion, but, if I did, requiring people to get married just to see if they've got a workable relationship would be right at the top of my list.)

Seven years on, what I know about our relationship is this: We laugh a lot, and hard. We can fight and get over it. We still haven't run out of things to talk about—and, when I once told him after our first long conversation about god and death and other Serious Things, "I could have that conversation with you 50 more times," I wasn't wrong. We are both works in progress, which is at turns exhilarating, scary, and tiresome. Each of us has a messy slate, filled with the scrawls and scratches of lives lived with a willingness to fail and fall and fuck up, to take big risks like marrying a person you aren't even smart enough to realize you hardly know.

Or like hanging in there, once you've seen that person's capacity to be grumpy, mean, petty, impatient, and in other ways perfectly horrible. And once you've seen their facility for kindness, for goodness, for idiosyncratic talents and inimitable quirks—and your aching, reverberating love is as much a source of wanton joy as it is a reminder of how much you have to lose.

We are lucky. We were each others' biggest risk, and we are each others' greatest reward.

Last night, I crawled into bed about a half hour after Iain, and, uncharacteristically, he had fallen asleep on his side, facing my side of the bed. I slipped in as quietly as I could, and in the dark I found his hand resting between us. I slid my palm across his, smooth and cool, beneath his slightly curled fingers. He exhaled sleepily, and from somewhere in the space between slumber and waking, his fingers closed and softly grasped by hand.

I grasped his back.

As the clock struck midnight, I laid beside him, holding and being held by him, my partner, my best friend, and I was exactly where I wanted to be.

I love you, Iain. Happy Anniversary.

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