**A cautionary note to readers: Although I don’t think this “love letter” is particularly mushy-gushy  (and mind you, I’ve read my fair share of English Romantic poetry), if you find yourself choking back vomit midway through, keep in mind you’ve been properly warned.

My dearest Benjamin James Crist,

I was on Facebook instead of doing my homework (as usual) and as I was creepin’ your page (as usual) for new birthday well-wishes (none to speak of, sorry.), I clicked that new-fangled “view friendship” box. According to FB, we’ve been “in a relationship” since March 31, 2007–the day we presumably saw what’s-that-play (I’m drawing a blank on the name; Lord knows the entire time I was concentrating on how not to get caught staring at the big-haired kid sitting next to me and instead, appear engrossed in the finer points of low-budget high school dramatics.) Well, well, mister, I did a little Facebook-assisted research and let the record show the day that will go down in history as Ben Crist and Deanna Pan’s First Almost-A-Date was none other than March 30, 2007. Here’s the evidence to prove it:


I KNOW, RIGHT?! The chronology of our Facebook relationship status has been nothing more than a bold-faced, hyperlinked lie. I don’t know about you, but I’m ashamed–ashamed to have virally spread such miscalculated misinformation through the very medium that brought us together </3.

So I edited my profile to rectify the situation, but I still feel a little funny inside. Maybe it’s the inconsequentiality of changing a single digit in the aggregated data of a bajillion-users-strong social networking site. Maybe it’s the futility of humankind’s restless attempt to quantify, assess and box the passage of time. Maybe it’s last night’s deep-fried pakoras.

Whatever it is my darling, the fluidity of our anniversary date is raising its arms and jumping up and down in the tiny cavities of my body and I can’t seem to shut it up.

Or maybe, it’s this:

For the first time since we met on March 30, 2007–when you rang my doorbell and waved to me down the hall in your shrunken “Beat Elder” t-shirt and yellowed Adidas tennis shoes, your hair standing six inches high, Adam’s apple protruding like a second nose on your neck–I’m missing your birthday. Since I left for India three months ago, I’ve missed quite a lot of things, both the little milestones and usual mundanities. I’ve missed helping you move-in to your first house as a college student; dressing up as LOL cats for Halloween; keeping you company in the DAAP lab on weekends, writing English papers (read: checking my Facebook) while you scrambled to finish your leaf drawings.

I’ve missed the friendships you’ve formed with a group of guys I think will stick around for quite a while. I’ve missed a passion-in-action for design, art and photography that’s mushroomed since I left.

Now today, I am missing a skinny, 17-year-old boy in well-worn sneakers become a 21-year-old handsome, genuinely happy, young man–one who’s got a better handle on life with all its staggering twists and turns than most “grown-ups” I know–one who, in the three months since I’ve freed him from the grip of my incredibly high maintenance fist, has really grown into himself.

My dearest Ben, I am so, so proud of you and I am so, so proud of us for sticking out these three and a half years of togetherness and now these three and a half months of cross-continental long-distanceness. And boy, oh boy, has time treated us well.

Happy birthday, Ben. In six weeks, when I come home, we’ll celebrate with a glass of champagne for you and an American (that, being the keyword) Diet Coke for me. And then we’ll have dozens and dozens of years to stick out after that, full of birthdays, holidays, new homes, old friends, big careers and lived dreams.

‘Til then, we’ve got six weeks and three days to go.

But what’s the point in counting, anyway?

With love,

Your Dearest Girlfriend

So happy together in Chicago--just hours before I hopped on the plane!

And to all you nosy voyeurs: Happy Diwali! Enjoy these pics of one of the most auspicious nights of the year!

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Oh yeah, and I totes rocked the sari.

That's right, haterz.

Published by deannapan

I'm a journalist who specializes in education, race and social justice reporting.

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  1. Did I ever mention that I’m wildly in love with you??? Thanks De for the nicest birthday gift ever 😀

  2. OMG, Benny Happy Belated Birthday! I just read this at work and started crying 🙂 You two are truly meant for each other. And, I agree whole-heartedly with Dede’s comment that Ben, you truly are wise beyond your years. I am continuously impressed with your love of life and groundedness. Love you two and am so proud of what both of you are doing! It takes true love to blossom in each other’s absence.


  3. dede i love the breast cancer “bricks” article. I learned and confirmed alot about women and survival. Love you always. Mom

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