From Everything Changes, the Awl’s newsletter. Subscribe here.
In addition to being wonderful stories, a lot of these are nice ideas for how to show a friend or a partner you love them. Thank you to everyone who wrote in.
We met in primary school aged 6. I had just moved from France and didn’t speak English. I saw her in the playground with the longest, skinniest legs, wearing stripey tights and I knew I wanted to be her friend. Louise and I are still friends now aged 50. — Anne B.
I had one of those ill-fitting bras on — where the whole thing slides around even when you’re sitting still. All day I whined about it to him on gchat, probably layered thick with complaints about the patriarchy generally. When I got home I immediately pulled it off, and he handed me scissors so I could snap it in half and make sure no one would ever suffer it again. Then, slowly and without talking about it, we each took one cup, put them on our heads like party hats, and danced around the kitchen.
What I’m saying is we celebrate each other’s victories.
I knew when he taught me how to eat stone crab. He got crab juice all over his nice sweater and still had a smile on his face. The smallest gestures are the most important, at least to me. — Courtney G.
I knew that L was the person I wanted to be with the rest of my life when we were climbing down from a hike in upstate New York and the fear of heights that I had been trying to fight off took full hold of me. He held my hand for 2 hours’ slow going as I cried and moaned and said things like, “leave me here, just leave me here.” He didn’t let go unless I asked him to, and never once showed anything but understanding and care that entire time. When we got down to the bottom of the mountain and the trail was flat and wide, I was a rubber-kneed mess. He just hugged and kissed me and said that I did a great job. He exhibits that kind of patience and love every day. It’s the rarest thing I’ve ever encountered.
I didn’t. I don’t. But they’ve been the person I wanted to be with tomorrow for nearly 22 years now. That’s good enough for me.
I knew the person was my person when I broke up with my last girlfriend. I’m diagnosed bipolar type two and for the time being have come to the conclusion that I won’t be able to have a stable relationship for the foreseeable future. The swings in emotion are too much for another to deal with and the initial honeymoon period is too intense to claw our way back from. So I realized I was my own person. — Rob R.
I first began dating my now husband back in the fall of 2008. It was only a couple of years after my father had passed away from lung cancer and the anniversary of his death was particularly difficult in those early years of heart aching loss as one might imagine. I warned him when the date was nearing because I wouldn’t be myself in the undertow of sadness that would take me. Fast forward a couple of years into our relationship, we had moved in together and shared our Google calendars with each other to make making plans and tracking things easier for the both of us (I would make plans without consulting him or have dinner with friends and forget to tell him and he’d have no idea where I was…whoops!). I was scrolling through into June to make some camping reservations and came across a note on June 26th on his calendar. He had made a note that just had my name and the words “Dad day”. That’s when I knew he was my person. He had marked down my sad day to be there for me. He has shown me in the almost 9 years we’ve been together so many other thoughtful ways he cares about me, but that was the moment.
Life works when he is around.
My partner and I were in university and had only been dating for a couple of weeks when we woke up in my apartment one Saturday morning. Still sleepy, he got out of bed, walked over to the clothes horse in the corner full of my drying clean clothes, and without warning picked it up and did the best, loudest, most wholehearted horse neigh and head shake. It was so unexpected and so, so funny. Right then I knew — if this guy feels this comfortable being weird and silly with me after only a couple of weeks, he’s my person. That was 9 years ago, and he now does his horse impersonation (among others) for me on request. — Kate N.
My senior year of college I lived in an apartment style suite with 5 other women, 2 I barely knew. The first week, all of us went to Target and I bought a cookie sheet and some cookies dough. We got home, everyone disperses into their rooms while Barely-Know Roommate and I make the cookies to share with everyone. We eat the whole tray ourselves. We go get more cookie dough quickly so the other roommates won’t realize what happened. We make the second batch, get it out of the oven, and close the kitchen door and start to again eat all the cookies ourselves. Another roommate walks in and catches us, we offer her a cookie clearly out of obligation, she leaves, and Barely-Know Roommate and I finish the second tray and instantly are bonded for life.
I knew my husband was a strong contender when he demonstrated flawless knowledge of every bad movie Nicholas Cage has ever been in. I absolutely wanted to be with someone who could appreciate a terrible wig and a nonsense accent.
Our second flying vacation together. The first flying vacation we took together was logistically smooth, but was plagued with constant fighting. Our second flying vacation was a nightmare on paper. We had flight delays going both directions, issues getting to and from the airport, transit problems all over, and we both forgot to pack important things that necessitated a boring store trip as the first task of our fun vacation. To top it off, I got horribly sick from (probably) food poisoning halfway through and spent the back half of the trip ill in the hotel room. Because I was sick, we had to cancel two planned adventures, one of which my person was particularly excited about. But we both kept being kind at each other, and kept all our stresses external, and focused on having fun together. Every time I talk about that vacation, no one listening understands why I look so happy, because it sounds so terrible, but it was the point where I realized that we were completely on the same team. — Michelle J.
I have had two persons in my life; my late husband, and my best friend. I met my best friend one day in college; I hardly knew her, though I knew of her. For some reason, she wandered into my dorm room one afternoon, and burst into tears. She’d just had an abortion. I remember that I looked at her and thought, she’s my best friend forever. It was like a thunderbolt. She says something similar happened to her. We later discovered our dads had gone to the same high school in Cleveland, and that she and I had been born in the same hospital in Columbus, two months to the day apart, even though I then moved 2500 miles away from that town. We now work together and have for ten years. I think we’ll probably form a commune in Maine in twenty years and be together till the end.
My late husband…well, I was in Chicago, and struggling with whether to move to New York. I liked Chicago and didn’t want to leave, but my boyfriend at the time really wanted to go. But I woke up one more morning and just knew: If I move to New York, my life will change. So I did, and eighteen months after that, I got a call from a man named Peter, who needed to make a hire at his newspaper. We met at Grand Central and while I didn’t yet know he was going to be my husband, while I wasn’t even especially attracted to him physically, I was crazily attracted to him as a human being. I came home that night and told myself: I have to find a way to work for this man. I did. Two years later we were together, and we belonged to each other for 17 years. He died four years ago. His last week in the hospital, he held my hand and said, “You’re my person.”
She always looks back when she leaves. Always. — JPS
From Everything Changes, the Awl’s newsletter. Subscribe here.