When I first saw him, it was only in profile. He was so engaged with his work, he didn’t even turn to see me for many weeks. I was 23 years old, which seems impossibly young now to be making such a large life decision.
He has a wonderful, classical look, a strong brow and straight fine nose. He had jet black hair then, with mustache, and a beautiful, but rare, smile. (He has lovely silver hair now and a wise trimmed beard.) I stole glances at him working across the room for a very long time before we spoke.
On our first date we talked over a modest meal and cheap beer and hours passed in seconds. I reached over touched his leg as he drove me home. He is an excellent driver, I felt totally safe with him. His thigh was all muscle. He was so solid, so strong, such a man's man. I knew from that moment it was serious. I could completely trust him. Which was strange, because he was already over 40 and had never been married and was completely broke with a somewhat strange and speckled history. But somehow, none of that mattered. It just seemed natural and right.
He was great at a party, and could talk to nearly anyone, famous or shy or bizarre. He would let me be myself, a social butterfly around the room, but find me when the time was right, and gently take me home. When we slept together, there was a neon blue energy that passed through both of us. We both say we experienced it. We like each other’s spit.
He asked me to marry him after 3 months. I made him wait 15 more months and follow me to three different cities and until I said "I do." He says I came over to his place one night and never left. Which is also true. I would have split, though, had he not moved along with me. I am a restless soul.
His goals in life have been hard for me to understand: they mostly involve comfort and beauty and order in his daily life: but also the selective accumulation and loving care of fine things. I have always chased long-term windmills—ambitious kites—which often turn into big fat wasteful red herrings. I mean to do great things. He is my safe haven to come home to. I push him to try new things and take some risks. We balance each other out.
He hates it when I’m disappointed or depressed, so I try not to let him see me cry, which I still do too often. He doesn’t always understand that crying feels good and healing sometimes. It’s not always a bad thing. It can be a catharsis, not suffering. When I’m truly suffering, he does reach out to comfort me, and paints the world in a new light that makes the pain somewhat easier to bear.
I hate it when he rants and raves about the problems of the world, which he does in my opinion too frequently, and from too aloof and distant of a vantage point to really make a tangible difference. (Although I pity those who have to deal with him on the phone via customer service!) He's exceedingly private and stubbornly independent. He tries too hard to rationalize his own efforts to make the world behave the way he thinks it should. He believes that if more people would listen to him, the world would be a better place. For the most part, I’m afraid, he is almost always right. But people aren't much for listening. So, I’m the one that takes the lion's share of action in the world, often with his good council, for the whole of us. He's the one who keeps us, and our home, together.
My love for him is not what I thought love was about when I was very young. It’s not about being swept away by excitement or arousal. It’s not about an obessive feeling of connection to each other. It’s a conscious, in-the-moment, living journey, with peaks and valleys of positive and challenging experiences: mostly unpredictable in their outcomes. Like the child we never really believed would come, that has made his new role, to everyone’s delight, an amazing and excellent father. Particularly his parents, who never seemed to appreciate his unique qualities like I do. Unexpected, like the career I fell into that it not exactly what I wanted but affords us our basic needs, with a little extra, like travel to see family and good food and exercise and quality education.
Our marriage is about companionship and compassion. It’s about forgiving and letting go. Sometimes it involves compromise and even actual submission. It often demands focus and responsibility. In special times, it's about discovering new layers of wonder, surprise and joy among the old familiar capstones of comfort and compatibility.
It’s about weathering the storms and knowing the sun will rise; smelling the salt air and hearing the sea birds sing at dawn.
My watchful, steady man takes me all through the night.
(On the occasion of our 20th Wedding Anniversary and convalidation of our marriage in the Catholic Church).