I was up by 7 a.m., as usual. Even on the weekends. Phil slept in as I fed my E2 addiction, went to work out and eventually I made blueberry muffins for breakfast.

While stirring the berry and dough conglomerate, Phil walked in. Hugs and kisses all around. Our main mission that day: to find promise rings.

After we dressed and gathered the main news of the day from the tube, (anthrax peppers the midwest and northeast still; no more toppled buildings) we headed to downtown Athens.

Through the streets, with chai and pumpkin cookies in hand, we pass sundrous shops and wander by John and Derek's place. I felt the impulse to stop by and say hello to Derek, but I suddenly realized that he was no longer there. John kicked him out four days ago on the count of his nasty recurring coke habit.

The coke John could have dealt with- he had been for almost their entire relationsip. He indulged himself sometimes. It was the sudden attack of lying and stealing Derek had developed that forced John to send him packing. John called me the night he kicked him out, at about 12:30 a.m.- I flung my hand towards the phone next to the bed, being raised out of one of my typical nightmares.

"He stole $300 from Tina. I don't know where he's going, but don't let him stay at your place. OK?" Was John's jist. I assented in my weak voice.

"Sorry to wake you," he continued. "I'm just sick of it. He stole money from me, that's one thing. But he stole from one of my friends and if he ever does it again I'm gonna fucking kill him."

This was not your typical John. John, my favorite roommate from two years previous, my gay pal who could help me pick out clothes and guys for both of us to admire. John had never been a "drama queen." He was a pacifist. He loved snakes, Irish landscapes, my ex-boyfriend, and letting things go. He'd been aware of the many times Derek has lied or cheated. He'd always let it go until now. Derek had been a good friend of mine for a while now, but John deserved better.

Derek was a good guy, inherently. Coke can do some pretty messed up shit to a person. It can spoil the Lloyd Dobblers and Sandra Dees everywhere.

I held onto Phil a bit tighter as we passed the place, hoping our future together could amount to more than that. The promise rings would be the tangible symbol of this hope.

After searching several stores, we finally found them. Tasteful thin bands with waves rolling across the silver. Erin, the store clerk, another individual who'd happened to have an obsession for my ex-boyfriend, helped us pick them out.

About an hour ago Phil cooked dinner and over the candlelight we ate, joked about the idea of Bush and Arafat hosting a love-in, and then gave each other words of promise and love as we slipped the rings on our fingers.

Right now, as he rests before we go to see a movie, I have the strong inclination to hum Lou Reed's "Perfect Day."

(Names of friends are changed for sake of their privacy)