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Joe Botts and I met twenty years ago today (more or less — we know it was in August, and have decided to celebrate in the middle of the month), in Birmingham, Alabama’s Rushton Park, which was a gay hangout back then. Maybe it still is. I dunno. Most of the results for “gay Rushton Park” on Google point back to this very blog. Maybe I am the last one who remembers those days.

I was wearing Daisy Dukes.

He was on a date with another guy.

I thought he was cute because he blushed when one of the other people with us — a chubby DJ named Fluffy — said the word “dildo.” Turned bright red, all the way out to the tips of his ears. That was the first time I really noticed him. He offered me a ride home. He and his date came up to my apartment. When the guy went to use the bathroom, Joe grabbed me by my neck and shoved me against the wall and started kissing me. Then he took the guy home, came back, spent the night.

I quit my job as a waiter’s assistant at Highlands Bar & Grill the next morning so I could continue to hang out with Joe. I hated that job anyway.

“You’ve put me in a very difficult position,” said the lady.

“Sounds like a personal problem,” I said to her, because that was one of her favorite phrases to use with her staff.

I moved in with Joe that next morning. We’ve been together ever since.

Some random memories of our early days:

I sat on our dining room table, looking out the window, and said, “Let’s never, ever fight.”

Joe was the manager of a Haagen Dazs. He took me to work with him. I hung out in the storage closet — which was on the other side of the mall from the food court where his actual store was. Every now and then he would come back to the storage closet and we would make out, then he would go back to work.

Love is not about refusing to fight one another. Love is not about uncontrollable passion, either. We started fighting, and we stopped making out at every opportunity, not too long into our time together. But we will never stop loving one another. I can’t imagine a life without him. I can’t wait until we are even older together than we already are. That’s gonna be great.

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