Today's posting is brought to you by the number Nine.
Nine is the third square number - which, for the math-uninclined among us, means 3 X 3.
Nine used to be the number of planets in our solar system - until the Powers That Be decided that Pluto wasn't big enough, so now we have eight.
Nine is the official number of innings in a baseball game - a team sport fact that I actually know. Just don't ask me anything about football.
Nine is 27% of the 33 years I've inhabited this planet.
Nine is considered a lucky number, because it apparently sounds like the Chinese word for "long-lasting" - which I can't really verify, because I don't speak the lingo. Still, if it's true, it's kinda fitting for this post.
Because it was nine years ago today that I had a first date with a man in a puffy red coat, over a slice of pumpkin cheesecake at Nookies in Lakeview.
I had just returned the prior night from my last visit to Montreal. It was just a few months after 9/11, and I had wanted to close out my stint in the reserves, because - however illogically - I was a bit afraid that I might be called up into service somehow, given all the crap that was going on in the world. And for whatever reason, coming back from that trip, it just seemed like a page in my life was turning - without pause or regret - and I was ready for more.
And there he was, waiting for me on a windy November evening (because I was late, as usual). And even though I was wearing a tragically-unfashionable black trenchcoat with epaulets, he didn't run away.
3,285 days, hundreds of desserts, one green card, a home, and many adventures later, he's still with me. And for that, I am a better man.
Happy Anniversary, Matthew - I love you.