When SMB and I took the leap and moved in together three months ago, I was fully prepared for an adjustment period filled with rude awakenings and dirty dishes left in the sink for days, along with all those other obnoxious habits prime-time TV taught me to keep an eye open for in the beginning of our next step. It was gonna be weird. He was gonna be weird. And I was on guard.
And sure, there were a few things I noticed that I hadn’t picked up in the first couple years of our relationship. Like that he eats Fruit Snacks with his breakfast, and that my bathroom is now chock full of back issues of The Economist. He never checks the expiration date on his dairy products and I constantly live in fear of accidentally pouring cheese into my coffee.
But these are pretty insignificant quirks. If anything, in the last three months, I’ve come to notice the weird little things I do that I’ve never thought about before. Like my thing about the pens.
I use different pens for different tasks. At work my pen cup is full of brightly colored felt-tip pens so I can color-coordinate my schedule and notes on stories. When I’m reporting out in the field, I like writing with a mechanical pencil — not too sharp though, I like when the graphite makes a soft, thick stroke on the paper. And when I’m writing a story on my own time, I have to have to have to have a fine-tipped purple pen. Only the ones made by Pilot will do.
That all started on Christmas Day when I was in eighth grade, and received three purple notebooks and a stack of purple pens under the tree. I’ve written about that before, but in case you never saw that post, those three notebooks ended up holding the first novel I ever wrote by myself — a 500-page teen drama that took me a full year to write. When I wrapped that up on Christmas Eve in ninth grade, I began another new one the next day, and kept on going, writing a novel each year until I graduated from high school, always in purple.
So the idea of writing a story or a book in anything other than purple ink is… well, it’s crazy. It can’t happen.
The other day, I was doing some research for my book at the Starbucks around the corner from our condo, and when all the highlighting and re-reading was done, I realized it was time to get to writing. The only problem was that all I had with me was a felt-tip pen. So I did what any normal human being would do: I asked the stranger sitting across from me to watch my valuable electronics and caramel macchiato while I ran over to CVS to buy a pen.
But there were none in CVS. None of the purple Pilots anyway. So I hustled over to Staples. No dice. All they had were black ones.
“Seriously?” I said (totally out loud, by the way). “They used to have three packs of these all the time.”
I scanned the rack again, and after digging through the mishmash on the bottom shelf, I found a combo pack of like eight different colors. It cost $11 and included one purple pen. So I bought it. I had to. Then I proceeded to book it back to Starbizzle and write my tush off.
Then a couple nights ago, SMB insisted that we head to Target to pick up a couple things — paper towels, fabric softener, all the exciting things in life. When we got there, I did what I always do at Target: I beelined to the office supplies to see if they had any new cute binders or folders — and my pens. And after about five minutes of faux-patiently tolerating me, SMB insisted we get on with what we were there for.
No, I told him. I needed those pens.
He grabbed a pack of purple pens and began pulling them off their post.
“Ew. No. Those are gel.”
He raised an eyebrow, and I patiently explained I needed the Pilot pens. So he grabbed a two-pack of the black Pilot pens hanging in front of him.
“Purple,” I said, impatiently (because clearly he is the one being strange in this scenario).
He looked around for another minute, becoming flustered when he couldn’t find what I was looking for. So he said we should just grab the next best thing and head out.
I reached for another one of those multipacks, resigning myself to the idea that I’d be be tossing out like eight dollars worth of pens for one perfect writing utensil. I tell him this, explaining that I can only write with the damn purple pen.
He’s staring at his phone, googling something or other as he shakes his head from side to side and asks me if I’ll ever stop surprising him with scattered bits of crazy seeping out of me. I tell him I’m not crazy, and he mutters something to the effect of “the things you don’t know until you’re living together” as I’m calculating whether it would make sense to just buy two packs while we’re there anyway (What if I have a brilliant writing session in the middle of the night and run out of ink when I’m only halfway through? What if I can never get that train of thought back again? What if Kennedy chases the pen under the couch? It’s a heavy couch! I can’t lift it!) . I grab a second.
“Don’t,” he said. “I just ordered you a damn dozen of your special purple pens on Amazon.”
So I guess that’s true love, right?