Cake-day on the 23rd, Thanksgiving on the 26th, and for a change I actually feel like it's worth celebrating. I'm generally not the "spill your life-story" type, but this, I think, calls for it.Life's been pretty rough these past several years. In 2007, I graduated college with an Associate's degree that has basically done sweet FA for me. My grandmother (mother's side) passed away. My then-girlfriend, one of my best and closest friends all through high school, left me that summer. Lacking other options, I moved back in with my parents. Dead-end retail job, severe depression... basically 2007 sucked in every conceivable way and left me an utter wreck of a human being for the next four or so years at least. Held a number of different jobs, none of which I saw any kind of future in. Tried interacting with the opposite sex a few times, and none of them saw any future in me.Then I met Marie. We were playing the same MMO back then (Perfect World International, for the curious, but don't look it up), and I'd seen her artwork posted here and there on the game's forum. Meanwhile, I was making a name for myself doing machinima work in-game, and our paths happened to cross on DA. It amuses and shames me a little to admit the main reason I messaged her, at first, was a sort of self-dare. She's a talented and skilled artist with a gaggle of followers, and could easily make a living on her commission work alone (if her motivation wasn't as bloody fickle as mine, anyway). And I thought to myself, "You don't have a chance in hell of getting her attention, but go ahead and try."Somehow, this girl has managed to be there for me even while being two-thousand miles across the country, and has stuck with me despite time, distance, and all the terrible financial circumstances on both our ends. We only managed to see each other twice a year (and only a week or two tops, at a time), if we were lucky... and yet I couldn't imagine life without her. She's slowly helped me glue all the shattered pieces of my life back together, and given me a reason to keep moving forward.Which brings us to the present: At 32, I finally have a steady job, a place of my own, and perhaps most importantly, some self-respect. I can look in the mirror and not hate the reflection. Best of all, come Dec. 3rd, I will be driving down to Philly International to fetch the woman I love, and we can start living like a proper couple at last - together.First Thanksgiving in eight years that I actually feel thankful for again. Feels pretty good.