Tuesday, February 14, 2012
You were so quiet. So quiet it bothered me. You’d stare at me with your half-amused grin and say nothing whilst I took offense at what appeared to be mockery. Soon, you noticed other boys teasing me, vying for my attention. You were jealous, protective, and completely strategic. Armed with chivalry, you would return my stolen gloves, find my missing name tag, unlock and rescue me from the freezer, and, most importantly, protect the pole I’d named Richard. And I let you, because it made you feel better about the situation somehow. But after a few months I started to like you too. I tried to tease you and you wouldn’t tease back.
I wondered if my playful personality was going to mix well with your serious nature or if they’d repel like water and oil. One day, as I priced loaves of frozen bread and you stocked the shelves I asked you why you wouldn’t bicker with me. You looked up at me with those sincere blue eyes and said, “I never want to fight with you.” You were so different.
The next day I hesitantly left for a family reunion in Illinois, terrified you’d move on to another girl while I was gone. Then the text messages started rolling in, reassuring me you were serious about being my friend or more. As exciting as I was to come home and see you, leaving my extended family is always difficult. That first day back I cried. You showed up at my house, put your arm around my shoulder, and channeled those calming powers I suspect you inherited from your mother.
I was addicted. My uptight and theatrical tendencies were medicated by the sound of your soft voice, and I felt so balanced. I returned the favor by loosening you up a bit. I introduced you to IKEA the amusement park (remember IKEA? ;P), and taught you how to build some really goofy snowmen.
We were ridiculous newlyweds. We made cakes and burnt food and ate homemade pizza while watching the Olympics on one of our only two channels. I use to ask you to play two player games with me and you’d always suggested Strip Othello. Thankfully, that never happened, but nice try. There were some pillow fights, but mostly you'd just steal my pillow while I was praying. When you’d come home from a stressful day of school I’d poke you, make a joke, and ask you to wash dishes with me. It seemed like the kitchen sink was a perfect place for you to unwind. When I faced my own tragedies you always said and did the right thing. When I was throwing up and pregnancy sick for eight weeks you went to the store to buy me ramen whenever I asked.
Remember when Andrea was born? Things got pretty hard for a while. I was too depressed to loosen you up and you were too uptight to calm me. I never told you that part of my depression stemmed from the foreign feeling that settled into our marriage. Perhaps it was unhealthy how I’d come to rely on you so. In June, Andrea slept through the night and things started to change, get better, you know? But it wasn’t until December when I stopped nursing that I started to feel like myself again. Weaned from my dependent, I was entirely my own person. You, rejuvenated by Christmas break, were coming around too. A cleansing rain fell upon our relationship, ending the melancholy drought and transforming you and me into US, new and improved.
I’d almost forgotten how we were before our little addition. The atmosphere of our home changed and smiles returned. We started laughing again-- so hard we had to shush each other afraid we’d wake the baby. The shingles poem? Ha ha! It’s been lovely.
Almost four years ago on a warm June night, sitting on the swing in my parents’ backyard, my logical brain told me there would be hard times, but my heart didn’t believe it. I hoped that if and when trails arose, you’d make them worth going through somehow. I was right, my sous chef, I was right.