About a dozen years ago, I was living in Minneapolis and, uh, dating someone else when Matt started coming by with his canoeing plans and promises of long drives on sunny autumn afternoons and tickets to see the Jayhawks and Sugar and Uncle Tupelo. Great fun, but, you know, I was dating someone else. So when I left Matt (and the erstwhile, uh, boyfriend, never to be seen again) to live in Russia, I would miss our good times, but it wouldn't be that hard.
Except it was.
I missed Matt every day. I missed him before I left the United States. I pushed it aside and immersed myself in my work, the language, the life -- and then wrote him seven-page letters about it. We e-mailed and sent telegrams and mailed packages back and forth. I sent him a license plate. He sent me a hard hat. I sent him tapes of the Soviet Navy Chorus Anniversary Special. He sent me tapes of Robert Johnson and Quadrophenia. He wrote that he wanted me to be a bigger part of his life. I e-mailed that I thought I was falling in love with him.
Then came the phone bills.
A year later, he came to visit me in Russia. After a friend's birthday party we sat in my kitchen in the dreamy light of the White Nights and decided to get married.
Six months later, on December 7, 1996, we did.
Wasn't that a nice story? It is. But because we never really dated, there were a few problems. We didn't know how to argue. We didn't know each other's peeves. And beyond an almost-two-year separation of about 9,000 miles, we hadn't really shared any adversity or worked through any problems.
In honor of our 10-year anniversary, I was going to share some of our low points. But the primary partner in all of them has put a temporary hold on publication.