Colloquialisms are cool. They’re relaxed, informal forms of language that at times form a level of intimacy in dialogue. They can also be terms of endearment. In Spanish – specifically the Spanish spoken in Venezuela – the word ‘panna’ is a colloquialism. It means friend, but more so in the context of ‘buddy’, and it’s derived from the English word partner.

I was thinking of the word partner this weekend following a wedding my wife and I attended in Puerto Rico. During the ceremony, the minister made the statement, “Don’t try to find the perfect partner for your life. Rather, try to be the perfect partner to someone else.” It’s one of those quotes that made me look at Lee, she at me and forced us both to hold back a tear. I also think it perfectly defines what one should strive for in a marriage. After all, a marriage is, at its core, a partnership.

This quote stuck with me the following day as Lee and I ventured up and down the streets of Old San Juan. If you’ve never been, the best way of describing Old San Juan is New Orleans meets San Francisco meets St. Augustine. The Spanish influenced architecture is prominent and made more stunning by the vibrant, deco colors of the buildings that are set on oftentimes steep hills. The balconies of the buildings are adorned with wrought iron and there’s no escaping the presence of the fort and protective wall that once surrounded the entire city. It’s an enchanting destination with a world of history, and I can’t wait for my next opportunity to return to Puerto Rico. Still, the best part of the trip was being able to share that experience with my wife and my partner. Or should I say panna.

I am so lucky and blessed to have the relationship I do with her, one where the formality of a partnership is purposefully ignored in favor of the comfort and intimacy of a true friendship. At its best, we finish each other’s thoughts and sentences. It’s no longer surprising to either of us when we do, but I will admit it’s still a little freaky.

At its worst, the fights we seldom have are quickly resolved because being mad at each other usually means being apart from each other, and being apart from each other almost always means being alone inside. This is not good for either of us. The relationship Lee and I share is one where we can only achieve together those things we cannot achieve individually. Our marriage is a working example of Aristotle’s concept of holism whereby the whole is more than the sum of its parts. That being said, Lee will tell you that at its worst the ‘hole’ in the equation is 100% me.

As we come off of Thanksgiving and gear up for the holiday season, I am so very thankful for my wife and everything she’s given me in the nearly six years I’ve known her. It’s hard to remember my life before I met Lee. It’s certainly impossible to imagine a life without her. As I think about all the things I want for Christmas, I know I already have the greatest gift of all. I have a panna I get to discover anew and enjoy every day of the year. It’s truly wonderful. Or should I say, colloquially, awesome.

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