I was just a few months shy of my 28th birthday when I first laid eyes on my husband. I had just recently come to the conclusion that I was destined to live and die alone, surrounded by nothing more than my beloved cats and cherished Beatles CD collection. After yet another disastrous date the week before, I had given up. And I was completely fine with it. My cats loved me and I loved John Lennon. Life was good.
Then my co-worker suggested I take another chance (in other words: take another flying leap off the Cliff of Insanity and plummet screaming into the dark abyss of Bad Blind Dates). She suggested a double date with her husband’s friend. “He’s cute! He’s tall! He’s funny!” she assured me while I let out a long sigh. “And he’s a little on the goofy and geeky side. Just like you!” I was intrigued immediately. Tall, dark, handsome and goofy? I thought. Be still my beating heart! Another man existed who was just as endearingly klutzy and socially awkward as me? Get out! I am so there.
So there we were, playing mini-golf and eating fries at Applebee’s on our first double date in August of 1998. He told me his favorite movie was A Christmas Story and he loved to cook. I told him A Christmas Story was also my favorite movie and I hated to cook. But I loved to eat. It was a match made in culinary heaven.
I went back to work the next day a big giddy ball of New Love and proceeded to gush to everyone that “I’m going to marry that man!” (I offer my sincerest apologies to the mailman and my elderly neighbor out walking her dog that fateful day.) I paid no attention to all the eye-rolling and smirking or to the people plugging their ears mumbling “blah blah blah…whatever…love at first sight doesn’t exist.” I had this urge to yell it from the rooftops, just like those romantic movies that used to make me cringe. I was beside myself. I had finally found That Man. And that man was a geeky, klutzy sweetheart who worshipped the Red Wings and secretly wanted to own a lamp shaped like a leg in his living room window someday.
Unfortunately, he didn’t realize it as suddenly and as completely as me. But it only took one dinner. A month after we met, I clipped a recipe out of a magazine for some complicated pasta dish and slaved away over the stove making the sauce and the meatballs (Chef Ragu only helped a little). My husband-to-be sopped up the sauce with his garlic bread and declared: “Damn! Let’s get married!” The rest is history.
Well, “the rest” is close to 13 years since that Applebee’s date. Eleven years of marriage, two beautiful kids, a few lucky bamboo plants and some really fat goldfish.
Granted, there were some who thought our relationship might not last. It was on the fast track from the beginning. He moved into my apartment a mere few weeks after our first mini-golf date; a bit of a shock considering I had lived alone for years. I don’t think my cats approved, but I was floating around in bliss. We were engaged a few months later in November of 1998. We exchanged vows on the only warm and sunny day of that dreary rainy April, the 15th of 2000 (yes, Tax Day—hopefully this will help him to remember our anniversary).
Like any couple, we’ve enjoyed our honeymoon years and endured our dark days. Over the years we’ve weathered the storms of illnesses, surgeries, deaths, infertility, pregnancy, ailing in-laws, relocation, mortgages and unemployment; sometimes all at once. It certainly hasn’t been an easy road. But, we’ve toughed it out and we’re still together. We’re still in love. And besides, I like him, I really like him.
I like how he plays with Hot Wheels cars right alongside our son, making vroom noises and crashing them with abandon. I like how he willingly crams his six foot one inch frame into a tiny pink Princess chair to drink pretend tea with our daughter and several of her baby doll friends with a lovely sparkly tiara atop his head. I like how he brings me a steaming cup of coffee with milk every morning without fail right after I wake up.
I like him in spite of the fact that he hates The Beatles, thinks Eminem is the bomb and watches M*A*S*H reruns ad nauseam (apparently I am the only person in the universe who never warmed up to Alan Alda in a bathrobe slurping martinis). I like him even when he considers a well-spent Saturday watching taped episodes of Norm saw wood on This Old House or Bob Ross paint for hours on PBS (although I admit, those “Happy Trees” are strangely soothing).
And perhaps the most important thing I like about him: I can tell my husband anything. And, unfortunately for him, I do. But, don’t be fooled, this man loves our daily coffee chitchat as much as I do. Usually he prefers to use fewer words than I do, but he listens intently and responds to my concerns with the appropriate “No!” “Really?!” “Get out!” or “Oh, no she didn’t!”
So during my day, I constantly file things in the back of my mind to tell him when he gets home from work. When he arrives home, the kids and I do a happy dance and group hug. As hectic as things can be, we make sure to have the entire family sit together to share our roses (good things) and thorns (not so good things) of the day at dinnertime. There are always more roses and they usually involve the simple and beautiful fact that we are all together in the present moment and love one another.
The other night, the kids were finally asleep and we plunked ourselves down on the couch, exhausted from the day and settled in to watch a Chevy Chase movie together. During one scene, we both started laughing so hard tears were streaming down and I grabbed his hand. We sat there, holding hands and laughing hysterically. And I realized just how damn lucky I am.
So, if you read this, Happy Anniversary to you, honey. Raise your cup of coffee with me while I propose a toast: Here’s to hoping the whining kids, mounting bills and endless laundry fail to conquer us. Here’s to a long life with you, laughing through the tears and holding hands even when we’re rocking together in a nursing home. I love you.
I am so happy I took a chance on tall, dark and goofy.
(This post inspired by: Cowboy Junkies, Anniversary Song)