I’m not always completely clear on how exactly I chose her. or maybe she chose me. Nicki. and her sparkler. We’d met freshman year of college and fell in such love that school seemed to hardly matter. Held her on my shoulders as Prince serenaded to her. We’d stolen booze from my parents liquor cabinet and gone drunk camping, laughing into campfire light. So many stories – so many adventures. I’d bought her that ring with money my parents sent me to pay for a quarter of college. A year later I found myself in the U.S. Navy bringing Nicki’s photograph out my wallet — telling our stories. Worst of all was that Nicki didn’t exist. An exaggerated cover for a terrified homosexual at sea with an army of angry heteronormative men. I laugh, now, thirty years later. Because Nicki would cock her said sideways and remind me softly what a horrible liar I had always been.