Saturday, January 26, 2008

10 years, 5 months, and 16 days

On Wednesday, July 16, 1997, I thought I was having a very platonic lunch at Hobee’s on Rengstorff Avenue in Mountain View, with my friend Paul Decker. All of a sudden, he leaned across the table. He seized my hand in both of his, kissed it passionately, and gazed deeply into my eyes. At that moment everything in my life changed.

That day, which we marked ten times as our anniversary, began a long and wonderful partnership. We soon discovered how perfect we were for each other: we shared a common spirituality, similar political beliefs, and a thirst for learning and discovery. We agreed on pretty much everything – from the most sweeping high concepts to the smallest details. We had so much in common we nicknamed ourselves “The Twins”. We never took each other for granted, our passion never waned, and although we endured a lot of adversity, our love for each other and our commitment to each other never wavered.

Paul quickly became entwined in every part of my life. Soon after we began our relationship, he took on the role of sound engineer and road manager at my live performances. As my self-appointed number one fan, he enjoyed watching my creative process as it unfolded. He knew I loved to write about the intersection of science and mysticism, and he would often send me articles about new scientific discoveries, NASA missions, and deep space survey results, knowing that I’d turn them into poems and pieces of music somewhere down the line. He was there to witness every stage of my four studio albums, and provided cover photography for my second and third CDs, Summerland and Diogenes.

His presence at my concerts was such a blessing. With him there, I could always count on at least one person being there who was really going to listen. I enjoyed sneaking a look at him from my place onstage, to see him leaning over the mixer, intent on his work, but also smiling and mouthing the words along with me, sometimes with his eyes blissfully shut.

I was privileged to be a part of his life, and to experience countless loving gestures, large and small…all the special meals he cooked for us, all the photographs he took of me, all the gifts he gave me, on special occasions or for no reason, chosen with care and circumspection; the bike he refurbished for me to ride, the awe-inspiring sandwiches he made for our hikes, the computer table and printer hutch he designed and built for me, the Christmas computer he built for my mother out of parts, all the times he cleaned up my kitchen just because he felt like it, the bottles of water he always seemed to have, knowing I was always thirsty…and all his anniversary, birthday, and Valentine’s Day cards, with their poetic and passionate hand-written messages.

Time and again over the years I marveled at how lucky I was to have found a man who was a feminist, an intellectual, a visionary, an artist in the kitchen and behind the camera, a mystic, a writer, and a passionate and devoted lover. Paul showed me what true love and respect were all about. He didn’t care what shape my body was, or how I wore my hair, or what clothes I wore. His support of me in everything I chose to do was unconditional and relentless. He understood me completely, and accepted me for who I was. He established himself in my heart and mind as the gold standard of men. I resolved to be the best girlfriend I could possibly be, since he deserved nothing less. As I told him on many occasions, “The more guys I meet, the more I appreciate YOU.”

On my journey with Paul, I had countless new experiences, and learned so much from him about love, respect, commitment, generosity, thoughtfulness, courage, and patience. He was my best friend, to whom I could tell any secret without fear of judgment. He helped me to heal from the wounds of the past and move forward with strength and confidence. With him cheering me on, I accomplished amazing things in my personal and professional life. Because of him, I know what it means to be an equal partner, to be truly accepted, and to be truly loved.

My love for him knows no bounds, and my grief at losing him knows no bounds. I don’t know, yet, how I am going to endure being separated from him. I pray to all the gods that we will be reunited in the Summerland, and in all our lives to come.

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