I drove Ryan to the airport early Wednesday morning so he could visit his father in Minnesota. We’re together almost all of the time but I rarely mention him in this blog anymore except as “Ryan said this” or “Ryan commented that…” It may seem that the big love affair I captured in the blog over six years ago has lost its magic. It has not.
After spending only two nights alone, it has hit me how close we are. I don’t mention him just as I don’t mention that I have curly hair, or a penchant for being hypersensitive, or that I have big feet. These are all part of what makes me the person I am. It’s not that Ryan formed me into someone else; he’s fostered my Carly-ness from day one. But he is always by my side in a way I hadn’t realized until this week when suddenly he wasn’t.
I glance fondly around the quiet house we share, our old Granville House, named from It’s a Wonderful Life. We called the house this initially because it’s on a street with the same name as the one from the movie—a fact my aunt pointed out before we moved in. Like the derelict Victorian in the film, our home was long empty, beaten down and worn, and in need of someone to bring it back to life. I had a sign made for the outside that proudly proclaims it as Granville House, because we are corny and romantic that way.
After we moved in, a Carly-esque coincidence happened. On looking through some old documents from the original owner, I got a big surprise. The previous owner was a widow who lost her husband and son many years before, and who herself had passed away about four years earlier. The legal document I found listed the widow’s late husband’s first name: Granville. We were shocked by this, as we’d been calling it Granville House the whole time meaning something else entirely. Truly it was Granville’s house. Signs like this cemented the fact that we were on the right life path.
The last couple of days I’ve worked eight hours (from the living room/my home office) then spent long, quiet, lonely evenings missing Ryan. I have my animals as companions. Rebound Dog Lily is almost seven years old now. Hard to believe it was that long ago I crept into a Starbucks to write a blog about dating and how I was never going to do it again. About how I was going to get a rebound dog instead.
My full-blood, nine-hundred dollar Yorkie ended up being a mixed breed (so says her DNA). She weighs fifteen pounds, is deaf, has two leaky heart valves and a murmur. She’s had 19 teeth removed this year and has no enamel on the others so will lose those at some point too. But she’s the sweetest dog I’ve ever had. The absolutes I proclaimed about dog breeds, and my chronic checklists about everything—that’s not me anymore.
A couple of years ago Ryan and I went to the pet store to get Henry (my now nineteen year old cat) some food. We spotted the pen of rescue dogs in the main aisle and fell in love with Scruffy. Ryan was resistant to adopt at first, until the little ragamuffin looked in his eyes. A ten month old they found in the street, the lady said, saved from a kill shelter. It’s funny how close Lily and Scruffy have become. They’re inseparable in the way Ryan and I are. They may not be glued to each other 24/7 but you can be sure that if one of them goes somewhere without the other (like the vet) there is panic. Like me, Lily was resistant at first to the idea of someone new in her life. She spent two solid weeks running away from Scruffy, avoiding eye contact if I held her up to the new dog, much the same way I avoided even the concept of having a new relationship. Then one day, she realized that Scruffy was the best thing that ever happened to her.
I love my house, filled with the touches that make it a CarlyRyan museum of sorts. Little bits of things collected since we met online. From the jar of rain I sent him from Massachusetts so many years ago, to the old Coke machine we got at the thrift store in our town. Everything in the home speaks of “us.” There was never the conflict of my stuff/your stuff I’ve had in other relationships. Sure, he’s got his book room, and the hall closet that’s a book nook, and I’ve got my Harmony Box collection and some dolls, but the feeling when you enter Granville House is one of peace, contentment, and unity.
Ivy is graduating next week from her community college. She’s a couple of years behind my original plan, but schedules, like lists, have become insignificant to me. Living and enjoying life is what matters. She started her new job this week, working with autistic children and adults. She will work there full time in the summer and hopefully part time in the fall. In August she will start school full time at a California state school to finish those final two years toward her bachelor’s degree. I have never seen her so happy and relaxed and content with life. I have never seen myself that way, until now. The path we’re on certainly seems to be the right one. It’s where we belong. Neither of us would be here, if not for Ryan.
In the early days of my relationship with Ryan, when we only emailed each other, when we had no idea our casual correspondence would turn into a cross-country, long-distance romance, he sent one message that will always stick with me. I’ve quoted this before but it was early on and bears repeating. “You’ve had a bad run of luck and you are a bit punch drunk. This is going to change for you…”
He was certainly right about that.
I sit now in the living room, looking out the French doors to the patio, where my plants and flowers thrive. Greens and pinks and yellows and reds blend together like a kaleidoscope. Lily and Scruffy play together endlessly. They are as bonded and as close as two beings can be while still retaining their individual personalities.
I look wistfully over at the side of the couch where Ryan normally sits. We watch television at night, continually pausing the show to discuss things. He’ll hand me his phone and say “Hey did you see this story about it…” Or I’ll stop the movie to read him a text Ivy just sent. Or we put her on speaker when she calls and we lean into the phone to hear about her day. He generally falls asleep during whatever show we turn on. And he’s up long before me, in his study, doing book layouts. He’s quiet and unobtrusive, but his presence is inexorably linked to mine. He is my best friend, and he is my home.
His absence is tangible right now, but thankfully he will be home in two days, back to me, his dogs, his old cat, his older turtle, and our happy little life in the old Granville House.
Here’s to love-Carly G