He actually started out as my boyfriend, then turned into my partner, and eventually (in the eyes of our family and friends) he became my husband. Twelve years later he is still all of those, but he's also the absolute best friend I've ever had.
Chandler is a librarian who runs three of the sixteen branches in our county. Until you really get to know him, he's a rather shy guy. He's also very much the complete opposite of me in many ways - except for one big one.
While I tend to have my head in the clouds, Chandler is the one who keeps my feet planted firmly on the ground. He came into my life at a time when I was living on my own for the first time in my life; having went from the home I grew up in to living with my first partner, who I'll call Elton.
Elton and I had a rather rough relationship, actually. Now I'm the first to admit that I'm not an easy person to live with, but I would also like to think that if nothing else, I have a lot of love to give. Unfortunately sometimes I guess love isn't enough. Elton and mine's relationship deteriorated after the first three or four years. I was in my early twenties and was just coming out. He was tied to his mother and grandmothers apron strings and we just didn't mesh. Eventually Elton turned to heavy drugs and constant drinking; followed by a lot of verbal and mental abuse. So with terror in my heart, I moved out on my own for the first time in my life. I was 31 and scared to death.
Thanks to great friends like Laverne and Shirley and my other best friend who I shall call Ross, I survived a lot of lonely nights and grew to appreciate being on my own. That's when two of the best things in the world happened; Shirley informed me I was going to be a father and I met Chandler.
I was looking for companionship, and so was he. But after what had gone on between Elton and I, the idea of a long term committed relationship scared me. I truly believed that there weren't gay men out there that wanted not only a relationship but a family as well. But on our first date together (a Chinese restaurant that we still visit once a year), I was blown away by his story.
He had never dated before, having focused on his studies. He was finishing up his Masters degree. He also came from an Irish Catholic family that was large, close, and very loving and supportive of each other. But what amazed me the most was that he loved children. He had many nieces and nephews that he couldn't stop talking about. When, on our second date, I hesitantly brought up the fact that I was going to be a first time father in the coming year, he was as excited about the idea as much as I was. If I hadn't already been falling for those beautiful brown eyes and his wonderful smile, that excitement would have done it.
On our first Valentine together I got home from work in the evening to find that he had made me a wonderful and fancy dinner with a chocolate cake for dessert. We danced our first slow dance together in the living room of my first apartment (Do You Want To Dance) and I gave him a key to my apartment for his gift.
That was twelve years ago. Since then our family has grown, both our families have welcomed each other with open arms. We've had our ups and down, our fights, tragedies that have brought us closer together, but most of all, a lot of laughter.
As I started to say at the beginning of this, we are very much opposites. I worry about very little (a horrible flaw), he worries for both of us. I do worry about every little thing the kids do while he holds me back from wrapping them in bubble wrap. He's a much more serious person and I'll make a joke about anything, even if it isn't appropriate. OH! And he drives me nuts as much as I drive him nuts, but for different reasons, of course.
But the other day I was driving home from my comic shop, playing the soundtrack to Rent, and when I got to the song "I'll Cover You", my thoughts went to him as they always do when a romantic song comes on the radio. I'm the luckiest man in the world. Not only because he loves me, but because he still puts up with me after nearly twelve years.
And that really big thing that we are not opposites about... our family. We're proud of what we have helped create with Laverne and Shirley. Family is everything to both of us. So that's the story of my best friend. He's my ups and downs, my pride, my joy!