As a relationship transitions from steady to long-term the participants often have a picayune conversation: “I wish there was a better word than boyfriend/girlfriend.” Even in the 2010s, the words feel malt-shoppy and frivolous. A committed relationship eventually makes them inadequate.

That’s not why Amber asked me to be her domestic partner two weeks ago. She asked because her root canal was botched it was going to be expensive to fix. We hoped I could put her on my insurance, but when that fell through we still liked the idea of a formal step between live-in dating and engagement. (Our rings won’t be ready until late August.) So Tuesday morning we filled out an online application, went to City Hall, waited for the clerk to call “A043,” and were certified as domestic partners.

The day veered between romantic and bureaucratic. A friend gave us hugs, free coffees and pastries. The bank joined our accounts. We ate lunch at Risotteria and I teared up when I saw my brand-new partner had grabbed the table we shared on our first date on September 30th. I don’t know how it feels when you first see your intended on your wedding day, but I expect it’s similar. We even learned something new about each other: two years apart, we were tattooed by the same artist.

At home we napped and discussed proposals, weddings, homes, children, and travel. We do that all the time, but today it seemed more real. Here’s to my partner.

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