Jason Gurley

By day, I'm a user experience designer; by evenings/weekends, I write novels from my home in Scappoose, Ore. My newest is Awake in the World, published February 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; my previous novel, Eleanor, was published by Crown in 2016 and has since been translated into German, Portuguese, and Turkish. I’m currently working on a new project.

Five years

We met in San Luis Obispo, California, in 2007. I'd been in California for three years; she'd been there a little longer. At the time, she was a barista at a Starbucks store not far from where I worked. My history of approaching women I was interested in wasn't that great, so I didn't really do anything. By the time we finally talked, six months had passed, and she'd come up with a nickname for me, this crotchety, bearded customer who sometimes came in twice a day when she was working: grumpy hot chocolate guy. 

Our first date was a misunderstanding: I believed it was a date. She told me that we were just hanging out. In retrospect: it was a date. She made lemon squares, and I took her to a local ballgame. The date lasted twelve hours; we watched a movie and just hung out, talking, for awhile after the game. I told her it was the longest first date I'd ever been on; she told me she'd been on longer. (Aha! I remember thinking. So it is a date!)

For her birthday that year, I gave her a pair of cowboy boots. She turned twenty-four; I would be twenty-nine a few months later. I'd been learning to dance in the months before we officially began seeing each other, so I taught her to two-step, and she picked up line dances in a heartbeat that I'd struggled to learn for all those months. We moved in together; rather, she moved into the very small studio I was renting in Morro Bay, and we made it work for nearly two years, I think, before we upgraded to a condo in Arroyo Grande. 

I proposed marriage on a pier jutting into the Pacific. She knew what was going on before it happened; we wandered down the pier in the dark, and when I paused beside the rail and turned to her, she thought nothing of it...until I realized we were standing next to a trash bin, and moved us a little farther away. I looked so serious that she suspected the worst. "Did you kill a cop?" she asked me, just before I went down on one knee.

We were married in a friend's wine bar in Arroyo Grande, by a friend who had been licensed to perform weddings on the internet and had never put his skills to use. We honeymooned in Costa Rica, in perhaps the most harrowing, life-threatening weather either of us had ever witnessed or been subjected to. By early 2011, we decided we were ready to start a family; on April 1, Felicia told me that we were going to be parents. Ever since, there's no such thing as April Fools' Day. 

Emma was born in December of the same year, a weird little bundle of drool and toots who shared her mother's ridiculous sense of humor (almost immediately) and made me feel a little less self-conscious about my recently-discovered bald spot (she was practically bald herself for a year or so, it seems). 

In the earliest days of our relationship, Felicia knew me as a movie nerd, a creative director, a struggling writer, a Jeep enthusiast, a piss-poor line dancer, a terrible joke-teller, a pretty good first baseman; I knew her as a talented knitter, a burst of fireworks in my every day, a bad-movie fanatic, an adventurer, an opera metal aficionado, an amazing best friend. She knew I was the one when I canceled our date night because she was feeling sick and made soup and grilled cheese sandwiches; I knew she was the one because I felt so loved I swear it made me want to cry. 

We live in Oregon now, and have since 2012. Life these days could not be more different than it was before I wandered into a Starbucks in San Luis Obispo for the first time. Since that first date, my life has been full of thousands of new things: yarn, alpacas, spinning wheels, turquoise, looms, rock dust, knitted hats, amazing food, diapers, fart jokes, horror movies, Adventure Time, puppies and kittens, hand-carved wooden spoons, enormous armchairs, etc. We're only eight years into this adventure, five of them married, and goddamn, is this great or what? That's what I keep asking myself every day when I look around at all of the wonderful things that make up my life. Every last one of them is because of this dorky, hilarious, beautiful, whip-smart, kickass woman who I am so damned lucky to call my wife. 

Happy five years, Felicia. I love you all the muches. 

Ramblin' man

Eleanor's new book cover