17 years ago today Ryan Duff "showed up" in my life. I was at a concert (I know, shocking) at the Abbey Pub. As I looked over the balcony, the boy I knew from the video store in my office building walked in (I had dropped a flier at his job a few days earlier). In his leather jacket and goatee, he looked bad ass as he leaned against the back wall surveying the place, looking for...me! On our first official date a week later (the movie Fifth Element), I found out he was only 22. I had just turned 27. All I could think was: this "kid" hasn't "lived" yet. Not that I was by any means worldly, but I figured this would never last. To my surprise, he stuck around.
We knew early on that we cut from the same mold and like any couple in the early stages of courtship, we started the first few long distance plans with "well, even if this doesn't work out, we can still go as friends, right?" Friends...something so important in a relationship, we marvel at how often couples around us don't seem to like each other very much. You can love someone and not like them but that's a doomed relationship. If you don't share common interests with the other person, or abhor the things they love, how can you build a future on it? We liked each other from the start, and while we do have our differences, our similarities outweigh them tenfold. The initial moment that brought us together involved the band My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (coming to the Bottom Lounge in June and of course we are going). I had been a college DJ. Even after I graduated I held a shift at the school's radio station for years. That's where I discovered the electronic industrial sound of the late 80's/early 90's and one of my favorites was TKK. The day I met Ryan at the video store where he worked, he had his boom box on the counter and I recognized the music. The words came out of my mouth "oh cool, Thrill Kill" and I swear Ryan's head almost spun off his neck to look at me. It was like I had sent out a homing beacon. It was at the point my girlfriend told me to check out the new releases on the second floor. I climbed the spiral staircase to the top, knowing the entire time Ryan was watching "the cool girl" make her way upstairs...and then I found myself in the porn section. Despite minor embarrassment on my part for falling for the trick, that solidified my future with Ryan, I'm sure.
13 years ago today we sat at our favorite restaurant in the city (Fireside on Ravenswood), before heading to the airport for a long weekend in Vegas. Earlier that day, coworkers had been predicting that Ryan would propose. When he did, my first response to "will you marry me" was "shit, do you know how many people I have to call now?" As I was on the phone with my sister he asked "that's a yes, right?"
10 years ago today we were married at the top of the Hancock building with 100 of our closest friends. I programmed all the music (of course) for our cocktail reception wedding and the sun set as we said our vows. We gave mini Jagermeister bottles as attendee gifts, we even filled our champagne flutes with it. The next day we headed to Atlantis for our honeymoon.
Over the years we've traveled across the country and the world together - Cali, Vegas, NYC, Rome, Florence, Paris, Florida, Michigan and the Wisconsin Dells - but some of our favorite moments are sitting on the couch with our dogs watching movies together.
Some of you have been on this ride the entire time, and some of you are new to the Duff party - either way I hope it's obvious Ryan and I have a special relationship that goes beyond just being hubby and wife. We've always said I was the female version of him and he's the male version of me. We still think alike and finish each others sentences. We're twisted and sick and we see and say a lot of shocking things and never judge. We laugh a lot and we look forward to the rest of forever. I could only wish every person had even a sliver of this type of love in their life, you'd be truly blessed if you did.