Dear Hot Firefighter Husband,
Eighteen years ago, we exchanged vows under the gazebo on the tennis courts of my parents’ country home. Dad had installed a ceiling fan because, in his words, “there’s nothing more unattractive than a sweating bride.”
You fretted about how your hair looked; I was afraid I looked fat.
We drank a lot of champagne that night, and danced as the sun set over the pine groves. It was a fairytale wedding.
You had asked me to marry you nearly two years earlier; when I called to tell my parents, Dad said, “Well, the only thing to do is for you to come down here so we can talk about this.”
So we flew to New Orleans, where Dad promptly talked me out of marrying you. We were living together at the time, and he asked me a simple question: Why do you want to get married? And, forgive me, honey, but I couldn’t answer the question. FAIL! I didn’t desert you, though. In general I have a terrible memory, but I remember exactly what I said to him that day: Dad, I’ll put off getting married. But we’re still together. We’re not breaking up. And I’m going to marry him one day. So you need to start being nice to him. Right. Now.
A few months later, we went back to New Orleans for the holidays, and on Christmas Eve we sat around a huge bonfire singing songs. You volunteered to be a human sacrifice and throw yourself into the flames, and Dad was so touched he nearly let you do it. He has adored you ever since.
Soon, the wedding just sort of materialized. My mother did everything, which is why it was so perfect. All I did was fit into the dress.
Why did I want to get married? Honestly, it just seemed like the thing to do. We’d been living together for four years. What else was there to do? Break up? I didn’t want that. The bigger question, I guess, is this: Why you?
That’s simultaneously easy and impossible to answer.
Years earlier, just a few months after that fateful, drunken night at Hathaway’s Pond – WHOOPS! – I drove home from covering a late-night meeting. As I stomped up the stairs to my garage apartment, the most wonderful smell infused me with a calm and contentment I had not known for a long time. I opened my front door, and there you stood with a dish towel in your hand and a smile. You had just taken a homemade apple pie out of my oven. It was the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for me. We ate pie for dinner that night, and afterwards sat watching my tiny television. You sat on the sofa, and I sat on the floor in front of you; you played with my hair. Do you remember? I was so anxious for that moment to last forever that I felt nearly paralyzed.
I loved you then, and I loved you on the day we married, but not nearly as much as I love you now. I know there are lots of reasons why marriages last long, but in my mind, the secret to our success is you.
I married you because weddings are fun, and I really wanted a diamond ring. But I’m with you still because when I’m cranky, you send me off to take a nap. You offer me the best bites out of the ice cream carton. You don’t snore, and you don’t mind if I read with the light on in the middle of the night. You love my body no matter how much I weigh. You clean the kitchen better than any man I know. You think I’m funny. You dance to Rock Lobster just to make the kids laugh. When I’m convinced I’ve failed at everything, you pull me out of the abyss, and when I have appointed myself queen of the world, you point out that my crown is missing some jewels.
One day a long time ago, as I was complaining (again) about whether I was successful enough in my various ventures, you said something I’ve never forgotten: I think the most extraordinary people in the world lead really ordinary lives.
It’s true. Some of them, in fact, make a really mean apple pie.
Love you always, always, forever.