Photography by Rob Howard
Ariel, communications director: I was in an electro-queer band called Tayisha Busay, and in September 2010 we opened for MEN in D.C. at this annual festival Phasefest. I’d heard of [Samson’s old group] Le Tigre, but I couldn’t tell you any of their songs. But it was for the better because then I didn’t know who JD was. Nothing happened that day; we just exchanged numbers.
One day she called me and said MEN was looking for opening bands for their tour. We show up at soundcheck the first day in Boston and she sees me and jumps off the stage and runs over to me and gives me a bear hug. That was probably the first time we touched. At that moment I was like, “Oh, that’s what I feel.” We started dating in March 2011 and we’ve talked every day since.
She’s always like, “I’m feel like I’m boring.” I say, “I sometimes wish you were more boring.” JD is a passionate, creative person; it’s new things all the time with her. The second I met her I could tell she wants to have a rich emotional relationship with her family: with me, with children, whatever that means. She’s a heart-on-her-sleeve type of person. That’s part of the excitement: I know I’m never going to be bored. We like leaving love notes for each other. She puts them in the freezer, in boxes of food—places where I’ll find them later. For one of her tours, I gave her this package of notes so that every day she was away she’d have a little thing to open. I put in a ticket stub from a movie we went to, a friendship bracelet… I put my perfume in one. When you have a relationship like we do, where you’re talking a lot via text, you want that real-life connection.
JD, Musician: It’s so good for me—with my crazy, eccentric, creative life—to be with somebody grounded. For our first anniversary, I drew 365 hearts on a piece of paper, one for each day we’d been together. We have that framed. For our second, I put 730 hearts on a T-shirt to signify two years. The gift for a first anniversary is paper, for the second it’s cotton, and the third is leather. We’re coming up on three years in March… so that’s 1,095 hearts I need to put on leather.
I barely call her by her name. I call her “Smash” and I’m “Smush.” We have smash written on a piece of paper on the refrigerator, and underneath it says atwt. I also got a tattoo that says atwt, which stands for “All the Way Thru,” a song I wrote about Ariel. It is my first love song—I was finally able to write one. As soon as I wrote it, we started to say “ATWT” to each other all the time: before one of us is going into a hard meeting, every time we get on an airplane.
When I go out of town, I try to leave notes all over the house so that she finds them. One time I did it on toilet paper. I unrolled it, wrote “All the Way Thru” on it, and then rolled it back up.
“For our first anniversary, I drew 365 hearts on a piece of paper, one for each day we’d been together. We have that framed.”